Government 2.0 Taskforce » Mashup Australia http://gov2.net.au Design by Ben Crothers of Catch Media Tue, 04 May 2010 23:55:29 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.8.6 en hourly 1 And the Mashie Goes To…[drum roll] http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/14/and-the-mashie-goes-to/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/14/and-the-mashie-goes-to/#comments Mon, 14 Dec 2009 02:24:47 +0000 Mia Garlick http://gov2.net.au/?p=1453 Mashie

It gives us great pleasure to announce that the winners of the MashupAustralia contest have now been announced.

In case you have missed it, here is some background about the contest – from launch and initial response to a final wrap-up.

We’ve also tried to follow the conversation that you have been having elsewhere about the contest. Most recently, we came across this interesting four part discussion on the All Things Spatial blog about some of the contest entries (see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

All that remains is to know who will go home with the coveted Mashie (see image (yes, the trophy is a potato masher)) and, of course, the prize money. Our esteemed judging panel have deliberated and considered all of the entries against the rules. As we indicated might happen, more than one prize per category has been awarded because there were so many high quality entries.

For Excellence in Mashing, the Mashies go to:

  • Surburban Trends a mashup of different types of crime and census data that allows you compare and contrast suburbs by a range of economic, education, safety and socio-economic indicators. The judges thought the ability to compare suburbs visually combined with the selective choice of statistics was excellent especially in a field dominated by many entries using similar datasets.
  • Know Where You Live which bills itself as a prototype of a mashup of a range of open access government data based on postcodes so that you can truly know where you live. The judges loved the very citizen-centric “common questions” user experience of this app and the groovy, and again, selective repackaging of what could otherwise be considered (we’ll be honest here) slightly boring data. The integration of publicly-held historical photographs and rental price data was a nice touch as was the use of Google’s satellite images in the header. Judges were disappointed that some of the data for states other than NSW wasn’t available for inclusion. The focus on compliance only with the most modern standards compliant browsers was not seen as detrimental to this mashup.

The Highly Commendable Mashups were:

  • geo2gov which serves an excellent example of what can be possible with open government data. This entry provided an online service that will take a location description in a wide range of formats, and map that location to the government. The testament to its utility was demonstrated by the fact that several other entries used geo2gov. Contest judge Mark Pesce said that this app that was such an impressive prototype of what was possible with government data that it made his geeky pants wet.
  • Firemash a timely entry that analyses notices from the state of New South Wales’ Rural Fire Service and sends you a tweet if you are at risk. The judges were particularly impressed with this entry’s use of different services and its real time web goodness. The ability for citizens to submit fire information and be notified of nearby fires was quite unique. The dual purpose – citizen to Government and Government to citizen – possibilities with this site made it one of the few submitted mashups to explore data in this way.

And the Notable Mashing Achievements were:

  • In Their Honour which brings together service records, maps and photographs for each of the service men and women who have died for Australia. The judging panel felt that although a similar service already exists provided by the Australian War Memorial,  this entry explored the data in a noticeably different way attracting the opportunity for a different kind of engagement with the same datasets.
  • LobbyLens shows connections relevant to government business (e.g., government suppliers, government agencies, politician responsibilities, lobbyists etc.). For the judging panel, the relationship visualizations that this entry gave aligned well with much of purpose of Government 2.0 even if its usability needs a lot of work.
  • FlipExplorer this entry combines an interactive online search interface, 3D tagcloud, and timeline widget, which allows you to browse through the Powerhouse Museum’s Collection as you would any physical book. Although not truly a mashup of more than one data source, the judges felt that this was an impressive use of a visual interface.

For the People’s Choice Award, once we adjusted for the malicious voting up and voting down (shame on you who partook), the clear winner was In Their Honour — which is consistent with the judge’s thoughts on its usability. As commenter Nerida Deane said “I just looked up my Great Uncle Al and found the site easy to use and I liked the information it gave me. Maybe one day I’ll have a chance to visit his memorial.”

The Student Prize goes to Suburban Trends (obviously) and to Suburban Matchmaker, which the judges felt was a clever idea (albeit potentially raising some interesting questions for future ethics classes). Because rewarding and encouraging our students can never be a bad thing, the judges also agreed to award both Earth:Australia and Community Rivers each a partial student prize for a commendable effort in student mashing.

Finally, the Transformation Challenge for entries that enhance and/or make datasets available for re-use programmatically – the bonus prizes are awarded to geo2gov (see above), Neogopher (judges’ comment: this provides a pretty comprehensive set of transformation and API access to many of the data.australia.gov.au datasets in one place) and absxml (judges’ comment: a nice conversion idea that needs a bit of work to make it more usable.).

Finally, as part of any awards ceremony some thank-yous are required. A repeated big thank you to all of those involved in organizing the hackfests, to those who participated in the events and everyone who submitted entries or provided comments and feedback. Many thanks are due to our esteemed judging panel for their time and attention to all 82 entries. Thanks also to the Federal, State and Territory government agencies who provided datasets for the contest. And to the teams on the Taskforce Secretariat at the Australian Government Information Management Office and at the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy who provided the project support. This has been a collaboration in every sense of the word and hopefully demonstrated its purpose namely, to show what is possible when agencies liberate their data…

[cue the music to cut the presenter short and get them off the stage]

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Australia, You Have Been Mashed http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/11/18/australia-you-have-been-mashed/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/11/18/australia-you-have-been-mashed/#comments Wed, 18 Nov 2009 05:32:56 +0000 Mia Garlick http://gov2.net.au/?p=1353
OpenAustralia Hackfest, Halans CC BY-NC-SA

OpenAustralia Hackfest, Halans CC BY-NC-SA

Last Friday November 13, 2009 saw the close of the entry period for our Mashup Australia contest. While our esteemed judging panel is now hard at work assessing the entries, it’s timely to pause and consider how it has gone so far….in word: wow!! The response has been fantastic.

As you may recall, the contest was designed to provide a practical demonstration of the benefits that open access to public sector information can provide. We asked you – the community – to help us with this. We released some datasets on terms and in formats that enable reuse and asked you to help us show the benefit that can result. And show us you did.

We have had 81 entries — a huge result that positions this contest on par with similar contests held in other jurisdictions (or possibly even with greater impact if you pro rata entries per head of the population ☺). The entries are diverse in their focus – from Australia’s world heritage listed areas, to a Darwin bus map, to “Know Where You Live” (a visualization of Australian Government data based on your geographic location with accompanying images relevant photo).

Without doubt, considerable momentum for the contest was generated by the hackfests that were organized to get people together, sharing skills and ideas and building things. One of these – GovHack (see this report back) – was supported by the Taskforce but four others – the GoogleHackNights #1 and #2, the Melhack and the OpenAustralia Google Hackfest (see this report back) – were self-organised. All of them were huge successes.

All in all, I think its fair to say that you have definitely helped us demonstrate the innovative potential that can be unlocked when government information itself is unlocked, both via the hackfests but also via the blog posts explaining how you created your mashups (see e.g. “Building mashups for the society (Mashup Australia”) and “In Their Honour – Mapping Anzac Graves”). You have also helped us better understand how government data can be improved with your feedback about your experiences in trying to use the data (thanks, for example, to pamelafox and Jo Decker).

A big thank you to all of those involved in organizing the hackfests, to those who participated in the events and everyone who submitted entries or provided comments and feedback.

Don’t forget, we are keeping public voting open until 4pm this Friday November 20th and don’t worry geo2gov, we’re on those attempts at vote rigging.

Stay tuned to find out who the Mashies go to….. ]]> http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/11/18/australia-you-have-been-mashed/feed/ 3 GovHack: govt data + hackers + caffeine == good times http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/11/05/govhack/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/11/05/govhack/#comments Thu, 05 Nov 2009 00:53:24 +0000 John Allsopp http://gov2.net.au/?p=1297 John Allsopp from Web Directions was an organiser of GovHack, an event sponsored by the Taskforce. It was held on the 30th and 31st of October 2009 to encourage greater use and availability of government data in support of the MashupAustralia contest.

Govhack

For those who’ve not heard of them, the rather ominously sounding “hack days” are events that have been gaining popularity with developers around the world. They bring together web focussed designers, developers and other experts to build web applications and mashups in a 24 hour period.

As far as I’ve been able to determine, no Government at any level anywhere in the world has been willing to not only open up their data for people to “hack” but actually host a “hack day” to bring people together to do so.

At least not until last Friday and Saturday, when GovHack, an initiative of the Australian Government 2.0 Taskforce was held at the ANU in CSIRO’s ICT Lab and the ANU’s Computer Science department. Around 150 “hackers” (hacking, btw, is a typically positive term among developers, it’s only in mainstream usage that it tends to have negative connotations) from all over Australia came together and built numerous incredibly sophisticated web applications and mashups, some, like the Judge’s overall winners “Lobby Clue” by teams of people who’d never even met before the day.

Govhack kicked off with an hour or so of short sharp presentations, by members of the Government 2.0 Taskforce, and the developer community, along with “data owners”, both in Government and commercial, spruiking their data wares to the assembled hacker community.

Teams then got down to business, exploring the growing number of government data sets available online, “speed dating” to find hackers in search of teams with skills they needed, and planning their hacks.

Throughout the night, teams coded away, fuelled by caffeine (and it must be said excellent food, fruit, juices, and camaraderie.) Even well after midnight, a couple of dozen remained working, with a palpable buzz in the air, while Taskforce chair Dr Nicholas Gruen was still to be found discussing the merit of various sites and hacks at 2am. A dozen or so hardy souls even managed to hack all night.

Saturday morning saw new teams arrive, and the less hardy return from hotel rooms and home to restart their development. Senator Kate Lundy, now dubbed the “Patron Senator of Geeks” spent quite some time interviewing various participants, with the video hopefully available soon. As the 4pm deadline loomed, frantic (geek speak alert) XML to JSON conversions, JavaScript debugging and API reverse engineering were occurring throughout the CSIT Building on the ANU Campus.

Just what was achieved for all the effort? Before turning to some of the genuinely outstanding projects, a few outcomes from the event illustrate the breadth of the achievements. A few teams found themselves in need of postcode to Local Government Authority conversions, but while the data was sort of available, it was far from easily usable. Stephen Lead from LPMA in NSW took the less than ideal data and transformed it into a far more usable format. Then Mark Mansour from Sensis created a database and API (an Application Programming Interface is a standardized way of applications talking to one another) for the data, to make it much easier for anyone to use. Within an hour or two, two teams at GovHack were actually using this API. In a similar vein, Rob Manson, from MOB created a single JSON API to many of the disparate data sources available on data.australia.gov.au. Meanwhile, the NSW State Government launched their new data catalogue to make sure the data was available for GovHack.

So what exactly did people build? In all there were around 20 projects presented at the end of the 24 hours, almost all of which were conceived and built at the event itself. Many were geo/mapping focussed, but others focussed on data visualisation and exploration, the next wave of web applications in many people’s opinion. The level of complexity, sophistication, and novelty of many of the projects was extraordinary, given the tight time constraints. Projects that you can actually use right now included (keep in mind their alpha state)

  • The overall winners LobbyClue, by a team comprising members many of whom had never met before the event. LobbyClue is an in-depth visualisation of lobbying groups’ relations to government agencies, including tenders awarded, links between the various agencies, and physical office locations
  • Know where you live, a stylish presentation of ABS data (along with Flickr Geocoded photos), pulling in relevant information for a particular postcode: rental rates, average income, crime rates, and more. Built by a team of developers who work at News Digital Media.
  • What the Federal Government Does, an enormous tag cloud of the different functions of government, combined with visualisations of government functions shared between departments.
  • Rate A Loo demonstrates a community engagement idea, seeded with government provided data. Allows users to locate and then rate the condition of public toilets.
  • It’s buggered, mate, In true Australian style, allows you to report buggered toilets, roads, etc, with an easy-to-use graphical interface overlayed on a map. Their idea was to combine this with local government services to fix issues in the community. Built by a team of developers from Lonely Planet.
  • Many more fantastic projects can be found at the GovHack site.

A huge thanks to AGIMO and the Taskforce for enabling it all, CISRO’s ICT Lab and the ANU Computer Science Department for providing a venue and network facilities, to Microsoft, whose Project Fund helped make GovHack a reality. Numerous volunteers from AGIMO and the web developer community helped ensure the success of GovHack, and a big thanks to them as well. And of course the participation of so many developers from all over the country ensured that the event produced lasting value. Hopefully more than a few of the 24 hour hacks turn into applications we’ll be using for years to come. Above all thanks to you.

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Making Government Data More “Hack”able http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/10/28/making-government-data-more-hackable/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/10/28/making-government-data-more-hackable/#comments Wed, 28 Oct 2009 04:56:18 +0000 Pamela Fox http://gov2.net.au/?p=1262 At Google, we think it’s pretty awesome that the government is holding a contest to mash government data. As a company with a lot of APIs, we love when people use them to make mashups, and as a company with a mission of making data universally accessible and useful, we love to see governments opening up their data. So we’ve arranged a couple of events in support of the contest. We held a 3-hour “MashupAustralia HackNight” on October 14th, we’re holding another one tonight, and we’re hosting the OpenAustralia HackFest from Nov 7-8. At our first hack night, we started off with talks on the contest, mashups and APIs, and putting data on maps. Then, since we conveniently had a representative from data.australia.gov.au at the event, we took the opportunity to search through their database and find useful datasets. We found a couple really good ones — the NSW Crime set and the Victoria Internet locations set — but we also found a lot of really hard to use sets. Since part of the goal of this contest is to figure out what characters define a useful dataset, and to encourage governments to adopt those, I thought I’d take this opportunity to give a few basic tips:

  • Format: Generally not a good idea to share data in a binary format. It is more compact, but it is less accessible to developers. The best format is an API (REST or XML-RPC) or more simply, an RSS feed with all the entries. The next-best format is a well-structured CSV or spreadsheet, as many database systems can easily input those. If you are going to use a more obscure format, provide tips on how to use it. (This is something that the data.australia.gov.au site could also provide).
  • Size: Some data sources provided zip files that were around 300 megabytes. Most developers aren’t going to download 300 megabytes if they don’t know what the data looks like, and what makes up that size. If you are going to provide a large file, I suggest also providing a preview file.
  • Geo data: The vast majority of the data sources are related to geographic regions or points, but the vast majority also didn’t provide enough geographic data. If possible, you should provide the address and the latitude/longitude coordinate. If the data describes a region, provide an array of coordinates. A great example of this is the NSW fire feed – it provides an address, a point, and a polygon.

These are simple suggestions, but they can make a world of difference in terms of making data useful. We hope to see more government agencies opening up their data for developers and evaluating how they’re doing so. But we also hope to see developers using the current data as much as possible, and coming up with more ideas. Please join us at one of our future events!

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Mashup Australia – Start Sending in Your Entries http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/10/07/mashup-australia-%e2%80%93-start-sending-in-your-entries/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/10/07/mashup-australia-%e2%80%93-start-sending-in-your-entries/#comments Wed, 07 Oct 2009 04:15:57 +0000 Mia Garlick http://gov2.net.au/?p=1149

Today, the Mashup Australia contest starts officially accepting entries – here is the form – so start sending ‘em in.

Remember, you can enter as an individual and/or as a team. Given this Taskforce was created in the context of reform of freedom of information laws, we hope to see entries from media organisations and journalists as well as technologists, hackers and activists.

A week is a long time in mashup land, it seems, and there are a bunch of announcements, feedback and other developments that have happened since we announced the launch of the contest last week.

Most importantly, we have decided to extend the contest deadline by one week. We have been delighted to see the flurry of self-organising activity around hackfests and mashup camps (more on this below) and want to ensure that everyone has enough time to host them. We felt that extending the original deadline from November 6th to November 13th would give everyone enough time to plan and organise.

The other key aspect of the contest…… which we need to draw your attention to, is the addition of Richard Allan to our judging panel. As the former Chair of the UK’s Power of Information Taskforce which hosted the Show Us a Better Way contest and the current Director of Policy at Facebook, Richard will round out our talented pool of judges with some excellent hands-on experience.

Via the “twitterverse”, we learnt that Google (thanks pamelafox) will be hosting a “Mashup Australia Hacking Session” in Sydney on October 14, 2009 (more details are available on Google’s site), which should give Sydney mashers and hackers a great focal point to develop contest entries. In hopeful anticipation of other events being organised, we have created a new events page. Feel free to let us know if and when you organise something so that we can add it to the list.

We are also thinking of challenges that we could hold during the contests lifetime — for example, for the agency or person that secures the releases the most data or specific mashup or data challenges…if you have ideas or suggestions about additional challenges, please let us know.

The feedback to date has been positive and productive. We waded into a debate about the best way to engage in open data licensing (thanks Cameron who kicked it off) and received some useful feedback about the nature of the information that had been made available (thanks S Wan, we’ve passed on your comment).

Internationally, the open access to public sector information trend continues to gather steam. The UK Government opened up its data catalog site to developers. In California, a DataSF Data Camp and App Contest was announced. And we became aware of the Vancouver Open Data Catalogue.

So now it’s over to you – send in your entries before November 13th and continue to help us learn about open access to public sector information. And if someone can assist cofiem that would be great… ]]> http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/10/07/mashup-australia-%e2%80%93-start-sending-in-your-entries/feed/ 3 Your Invitation to MashUpAustralia http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/09/30/your-invitation-to-mashupaustralia/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/09/30/your-invitation-to-mashupaustralia/#comments Wed, 30 Sep 2009 06:09:56 +0000 Mia Garlick http://gov2.net.au/?p=1113

Today the Government 2.0 Taskforce is launching its MashupAustralia contest that we blogged about earlier here and here. To fuel your innovative mashup juices, around 59 datasets from the Australian and State and Territory Governments have been released at data.australia.gov.au on license terms and in formats that permit and enable mashup. The contest will begin accepting entries next week on 7 October 2009 and close on 6 November 2009.

You can enter as an individual or as a team. Anyone who is an Australian resident/citizen is eligible for prizes (teams must have at least one Australian resident/citizen as a member).

Over 15 Australian Government agencies have released data as diverse as Australian Federal Electoral Boundaries, Location of Centrelink Offices and World Heritage Areas in Australia. Through the Online Communications Council’s Digital Economy Group, State and Territory Governments have released datasets such as Surface Water Gauging Stations Queensland, South Australian Boat Ramp Locator and ACT – Barbecue (BBQ) Locations. There are cultural collections and plenty of quirky datasets too!

All datasets are released on license terms that permit and enable mashup (e.g., Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Attribution license) and in formats such as CSV and XML.

Prizes include:
• $10,000 for Excellence in Mashing category
• $5,000 for Highly Commendable Mashups
• $2,500 for Notable Mashing Achievements

In addition, we are also offering some additional prizes for the following categories:
• $2,000 for the People’s Choice Mashup prize
• $2,000 for the Best Student entry
• $1,000 bonuses awarded for the data transformations

We may even award more than one prize for each category if we are overwhelmed by quality mashups.

We are thrilled to have a starting panel of expert judges including Mark Pesce, Futurist/Author/Judge of ABC’s “New Inventors”; Nathan Yergler, Creative Commons Chief Technology Officer; Abigail Thomas, Head of Strategic Development, ABC Innovation, ABC; Regina Kraayenbrink, Web Futures Strategy Team, Australian Bureau of Statistics; and Seb Chan Head of Digital, Social and Emerging Technologies at the Powerhouse Museum (and Taskforce member).

More information about the contest can be found on the About page and in the Contest Rules.

Remember, this is a prototype in many ways for Australian governments to do this type of thing and we are looking forward to learning as we go. We welcome your feedback either through the blog or via the contest site or wherever you choose to share your views. We do hope, however, that your use of the data, your feedback and nature of community engagement will be in keeping with the spirit of the contest, namely to showcase the benefits of open access to public sector information.

In the meantime, happy mashing and we can’t wait to see what you create…

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