GovHack 2012, crowdsourced crisis mapping, and other news

Local news

  • GovHack 2012
  • Crowdsourced crisis mapping

Global news

  • World Bank Open Access event
  • Visualisations of Shakespeare plays
  • CODATA conference

GovHack 2012

GovHack 2012 challenges teams of programmers and designers to develop solutions to the problem of how government data can be better used to benefit the Australian public. There are prizes and grants worth over $30 000 to be won.

The GovHack 2012 website recognises that governments collect huge amounts of data but often fail to release that data in an engaging and useable form. GovHack is designed to bring together people from government, industry, academia, and the general public to remix government data. Data from sites including and Australian Bureau of Statistics can be used to make apps, data mash-ups, and data visualisations. Some new data sets have been released for the event including environment and weather data from the Bureau of Meteorology and data about history and citizens from the National Archives.

Chief organiser Pia Waugh notes that GovHack is a unique opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of open data and generate ideas for how government can improve access to and better use the wealth of information it has. Terms of the event include that the resulting content must be licensed under CC BY and the resulting code must be made available under an open license that allows reuse, commercial use, and redistribution. Waugh promises that the output of GovHack will be used to improve government services and government management of data. Waugh states that supporters (which include Google and Adobe) have contributed funding on the expectation that there will be ongoing outcomes from the ideas generated and works produced at this event.

GovHack will be held in Canberra and Sydney from 1-3 June and is a part of APS Innovation Week, which will take place from 2-8 June supported by the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science, and Research. Teams should register at the GovHack 2012 website.

Mashups from previous GovHack events can be viewed at Mash Up Australia. Winning entries in the past have included Know Where You Live and Suburban Trends, which provide different demographic information and apparent safety levels for Australian suburbs; geo2gov, which maps Australian locations to government jurisdictions, electorates, representatives, and location definitions for census purposes; and In Their Honour, which is a searchable database of 100,000 service men and women who fought and died for Australia including service records, burial locations, and a Timemap of WWI photographs.

You can share your thoughts on GovHack on Twitter (#govhack), Flickr (tagged govhack), and on the govcampau wiki.

Crowdsourced crisis mapping

Dr Marta Poblet and Professor Pompeu Casanovas have written a news article on how crowdsourced crisis mapping works and why it is important. Crisis mapping provides geolocated visualisations of data and allows filtering, categorisation, and analysis of the information. Crowdsourced crisis mapping uses the flows of information through social media to provide real-time, open access, geolocated data. The Standby Task Force, with which Dr Poblet is involved, monitors social media for information on specific crises, categorises and verifies this information, then collates and maps it.

Dr Poblet and Professor Casanovas from Spain’s Autonomous University of Barcelona are currently working with Professor John Zeleznikow at Victoria University on further uses of this crowdsourcing technology.

World Bank Open Access event

The World Bank is hosting an event in Washington DC on Monday 21 May to discuss their new Open Access policy as well as their new Open Knowledge Repository and their adoption of Creative Commons licences. Topics will include how Open Access can contribute to eliminating poverty and how the World Bank’s policy and repository will benefit users. Special guests include Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Open Access Project, and Professor Michael Carroll, a founding board member of Creative Commons. The event will be broadcast live in English, Spanish, and French. It is also possible submit questions now by following this link.

Visualisations of Shakespeare plays

The Science of Shakespeare (created by Pat Lockley) is a collection of computer-generated images based on different ways of analysing Shakespeare’s plays. These provide new perspectives on the plays by showing, for example, who interacts with whom over the course of a particular play.

Blog posts about these visualisations and the process of producing them can be viewed at Open Shakespeare. Open Shakespeare also provides Shakespeare’s plays and annotations of them, which are free to reuse and redistribute.

CODATA Conference

The 23rd International CODATA ConferenceOpen Data and Information for a Changing Planet will be held in Taipei from 28-31 October. The conference will look at the importance of open data for disseminating research, particularly in data-intensive scientific fields, and for providing solutions to pressing global problems such as climate change and population pressure. Calls for abstracts and sessions close on 15 June. You can also keep up with news about this event on Twitter.

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