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GovHack and HERE help developers solve commercial and social challenges

On the weekend of 28-30 July, HERE sponsored GovHack, the largest open data/open government/civic tech hackathon in the Southern Hemisphere. The event saw over 2,300 participants in 36 locations around Australia and New Zealand, and 74 teams used HERE APIs or SDKs to create some truly innovative projects.

Since 2009, this international competition has enabled teams to use open government data to come up with solutions to different social challenges and issues. It's a project that's close to HERE's heart, and Lucy Lin, Data Acquisition and Community Manager at HERE Oceania, explains why it made sense for us to get involved.

"As a location data company, HERE Technologies is proud to be associated with this event to enable visualisation of open data on a mapping platform and further encourage increased amounts of government open data that would influence the quality of our maps."

Because GovHack is all about open data, which when used in mobile apps or website projects, can provide social and economic benefits, 254 government datasets were made available for public use over the weekend. Open data also ties in with HERE's agenda, by helping to ensure that the HERE map is as up to date as possible. Accurate maps will benefit the wider community, the economy and improve daily life within smart cities.

"In a 46-hour weekend, participants form teams, collaborate on solving problems, build prototypes, publish code and make a video to demonstrate what the team has created," explains Lucy. "It brings together government workers, professionals, students, coders, storytellers, observers, creatives, innovators from the private, government, not-for-profit and academic sectors which makes it an incredibly creative and fun atmosphere."

The event is open to anybody, and this year it was held in 36 different locations across Australia and New Zealand. It's the second time HERE has sponsored the event; this year as a Gold National Sponsor for GovHack New Zealand, and a Bronze NSW State sponsor for GovHack Australia.

Using HERE data to create a diverse range of projects

The 74 teams using HERE APIs and SDKs were competing for three different prizes, including: 'Most innovative use of open government data with HERE capabilities', 'Most innovative tourism solution with HERE capabilities', and 'Most innovative use of HERE location capabilities'.

The choice of categories planted the seeds for some amazing projects, with solutions that highlighted the benefits of open government data by offering greater opportunities across different industries, and potentially even saving lives.

Lucy was particularly impressed by projects that revolved around emergency, disaster relief, and search and rescue, explaining: "New Zealand has been through many natural disasters recently, including earthquakes and flooding. How to react better and faster during disasters was a hot topic over the weekend, and I think it's an area where we could play a much bigger role in terms of giving something back to society, literally saving lives by using features like HERE's offline capabilities."

Travel and tourism proved another popular area for developers, and other entries focussed on asset management including locating stolen vehicles. Some projects were based around data visualisation, with hackers looking at how we can visualise data on biodiversity, crime, jobs, demographics, housing, childcare and other areas. The sheer variety of ideas to come out of GovHack and the availability of open government data is nothing short of astonishing for a weekend’s effort.

The imagination and talent on show in Australia and New Zealand at GovHack last month is deeply impressive, but you don't have to be a talented developer to make a contribution to a smarter future.

On the contrary, you can contribute to the HERE map by using the online HERE Map Creator tool. "HERE is an integral part of the autonomous driving and smart cities conversation," adds Lucy, "and if you want to contribute and help us to build a brighter future, you can head to mapcreator.here.com and edit roads, house numbers and points of interest of your local neighbourhood which will help to improve the HERE map and help build a better map of the world."

What happens next?

In the meantime, the winners from GovHack will be announced throughout September and October, with state, national and regional award ceremonies taking place throughout September and October.

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