Report on GovCamp & GovHack

The GovCamp and GovHack team is extremely happy to report that the events went really well with excellent outcomes, inspiring ideas and amazing people all coming together and connecting. Below is a brief report on each event, associated video, photos and social media along with some thanks. Both events had interest from around Australia and internationally, with several Open Government and Gov 2.0 types around the world participating in the conversations.

You can click straight to each of the reports below:

We encourage you to click through to the content of each event for details about what was covered.

Some key themes that emerged from both events included the importance of open data for innovation and a citizen-centric approach to government service delivery, the changing nature of innovation, the importance of people within the public service being encouraged or at the very least given permission to innovate and take risks, the importance of collaboration for innovation, and collaboration both within and across agencies as well as collaboration with industry, academia, NGOs and (the usually forgotten) civil society. Also discussed was the need for government to engage in a collaborative way in order to respond effectively to new challenges.

We are in the process of writing up the outcomes from the participant contributions from GovCamp for the record, and we hope this will provide some input the APS in planning innovation over the coming year. We’ll be reviewing this input against the outcomes of the coming year for Innovation Week 2013.

We are looking forward to doing both events again in 2013! A GovCamp Canberra event for Innovation Week and a GovHack that we are considering making national if there is demand and if we can scale it appropriately :)

Please leave your comments below and thank you again to all the participants, mentors, speakers, supporters and especially the government agencies and representatives who really got behind this initiative.

GovCamp

GovCamp saw an incredible line up of people from government, industry, academia, NGOs, the media and of course from civil society. It featured big hitters like Information Commissioner John McMillan AO, the Gartner’s Andrea Di Maio, Helen Owens the GM of the Office of Spatial Policy, a panel of bleeding edge innovators in government, and much more. The fascinating Leadership Panel from the afternoon was particularly great to hear, it included:

  • Ann Steward – Australian Government Chief Information Officer
  • Michael Chisnall– Executive Director, ACT Government Information Office
  • Anne-Marie Schwirtlich – Director-General of the National Library of Australia
  • Ken Pettifer – Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research
  • Drew Clarke – Secretary of the Department of Resources, Energy & Tourism
  • David Fricker – Director General of the National Archive of Australia

We have embedded videos of most of the footage into the GovCamp schedule page so please check out the videos of the talks as there is some great stuff there!

We had about 160 attendees throughout the day (we packed Inspire to capacity) from all walks of life, and attendees all contributed their thoughts, stories and ideas to the discussion and to the many whiteboard walls around the venue. We are collating the feedback and will publish the collective “roadmap for innovation” here in the coming week.

Many thanks to Gavin Tapp for taking beautiful photographs that captured the day. Our wonderful cartoonist also captured the ideas from the day with his reporting, some of which was captured by Gavin, some by Craig Thomler in his photos from the day. When Gav from FeverPicture sends us his photos of the cartoons, we’ll publish them :)

Below are some blogs and social media from the day:

Followup

Below are some things you can do to followup if you are interested in this space:

  • Join the Australian Gov 2.0 Community mailing list – https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/gov20canberra or if you are in government, join the Government 2.0 group on GovDex.
  • Check out the Gov 2.0 Primer by AGIMO http://webguide.gov.au/web-2-0/gov-2-0-primer/ which includes tools, lists of existing Government initiatives in this space, helpful guidance.
  • You might find Pia’s guide to Gov 2.0 useful or the interview she did with Vivek Kundra (ex CIO of US Federal Government) about innovation in the US government

Also, check out the upcoming GovCamp NSW events – http://govcampnsw.net/

GovHack

GovHack was a 48 hour event where challenges were put to the community to come up with inventive ways to use government data. The core themes were digital humanities, science and open government, and over the weekend, over 40 individual projects were made and presented to judges who awarded over $40,000 in prize money in 22 categories. The weekend happened in two locations (Canberra and Sydney) with over 150 hackers (in the true sense of the word) register and participate with around 50 additional supporters including mentors, organisers and speakers and another 50 or so people wandering in and out throughout the weekend to see what was happening.

Many people who didn’t self identify as hackers or developers got in and got involved in projects with great outcomes. GovHack needs all kinds of hackers, code, visualisation, user experience, mobile, story tellers, artists, so next year make sure you get involved too :)

We really loved how GovHack demonstrated that innovation isn’t about flowcharts, or reform agendas or standardised definitions. It is about passionate people being supported and encouraged to collaborate and be awesome.

You can look through the winners, highly commended and all other projects along with videos and links on the Winners page and below is a youtube playlist of screencasts and some short interviews of the winners. If you have a video to add to the playlist please let us know.

GovHack had a diverse group of participants, from government, academia, industry, NGOs and civil society (the final vital ingredient often overlooked). The weather in Canberra was miserable but still people turned up and did amazing stuff. We had people fly to Canberra and Sydney from Perth, Brisbane, Tasmania and more, and we’ve had requests to open up next years event as a national competition, which we will likely do :) There has also been interest in doing local hack events from governments around Australia and overseas, as well as universities, companies, and schools. I think the buzz around this years GovHack may have helped build more momentum for a new approach to innovation, collaboration, open government and bridging the divide between the different segments of our community.

We were hopeful of having at least 100 developers actually doing stuff, as we knew a large number of the 300 odd people who registered were interested in coming along to watch. As such we were pleased to get about 160 people developing throughout the weekend. Next year we’ll more clearly have participant versus observer registration just so we can get better developer numbers. Regardless we ended up with over 40 projects from the weekend. An epic effort, and our early very optimistic hopes were for around 30 projects.

The quality and creativity that went into all projects was astounding. A small number of teams got very competitive, but most participants were collaborative and genuinely appreciative of great hacks by other teams. It was the sense of camaraderie that really made the event, so thank you to everyone who participated! Thanks also to the sponsors (see sidebar) and particularly to the clever and visionary folk from all the Government supporters who provided some amazing data sets (a whole step above what has come before in several cases), as well as technical support with mentors and workshops, documentation and of course for participating as judges and with funding support for the event.

You can see the video content of the weekend, including the team presentations and prize announcements as well as workshops which you can find on the GovHack Schedule page.

Gavin Tapp (one of our talented team) who took some great photos throughout the weekend! Please find and tag yourself if you attended :)

There wasn’t a lot of social media chatter throughout the 48 hours, (to be expected when people are working hard) but during the team presentations and awards there was a lot of discussion and appreciation from around Australia and across the world about the fantastic projects developed! We also had excellent media coverage (see below the GovCamp report).

Below are some related blog posts, again please let us know about any more we can add to the list:

Media coverage and social media

Media coverage from both events:

Salesforce produced a short report of the event, which you can download as a PDF here. You can clearly see in the graph below the buzz around the three events.

Another company, Optimice did some interesting graphs of GovCamp, GovHack andthe third event, GovJam, which was a service delivery design event run by the Dept of Innovation and associated with our events. Thanks to Cai from Optimice for making these graphs and for giving permission for us to include in this report. You can see further Optimice reporting details of the events here where you can click through to each event.

GovCamp social graph

GovCamp Twitter graph

GovHack Twitter graph

GovHack Twitter graph

GovJam Twitter graph

GovJam Twitter graph

Enormous Thanks

A huge thank you to:

  • All the attendees who made both events so enjoyable to run, and so positive and constructive!
  • The whole team: Pia WaughGeoff Mason (G+), Gavin TappAlex SadleirSteve DaviesClare PaineNerida HartTom Worthington and Michelle Carden. Everyone put in an epic effort and we made something truly awesome!
  • The amazing support we had from Damien Maher from Newcast who did the seamless and professional video recording and streaming for both events, Steve De Costa from Link Digital who did both websites, including the team registration and forums support for GovHack, and Rob Fitzgerald, Danny Munnerley and the INSPIRE Learning Centre team, who were all fabulous. They really went above and beyond the status of “sponsors” and we particularly acknowledge their contribution.
  • The eGovernment Technology Cluster who provided logistical support throughout both events.
  • The sponsors who contributed both financially and in kind support. Particularly
    • Data & Priize Contributors: National Archives of Australia, Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia, the Australian Government Information Management Office, the Office for Spatial Policy, the ACT Government, AusGOAL
      Gold Sponsors: Adobe, MailChimp, Palantir
      Silver Sponsors: Cisco, Google, Ninefold, CSIRO, eGovernment Technology Cluster
      (Please see the side bar for the full list including all our in kind sponsors)
  • The Sydney GovHack organisers who overcame many challenges to bring the Sydney event together Steve King, Jessica Allan, Dhyana Scarano, Mark Green
  • All the speakers and mentors who contributed to both events! Some truly excellent content and thought provoking ideas!
  • The Dept of Innovation people involved including Chris Nedin, Tricia Berman, Mikaela Griffiths, Ruth Mirams and Wayne Larkin. They can be found on Twitter at @psinnovate.

Lessons learnt

The team really tried to make sure GovHack in particular had in place ways to mitigate some of the community concerns about hack events by encouraging the data sponsors to a) improve the data quality for the event (raise all boats) and b) engage with useful projects for implementation beyond the day. But we also required that all contributions (to be eligible for the contest) be open source or released under an appropriately permissible license. We hope this helps others build on top of govhack outcomes, which are, indirectly, publicly funded projects.

Some lessons we want to improve upon next year are below.

GovCamp:

  • Ensure enough sleep beforehand!
  • Ensure the venue has enough chairs.
  • Ensure all attendees get the same message and preparation beforehand.
  • Help attendees capture content from unconference sessions.
  • Ensure all content is streamed live, so more resources for video.
  • Ensure someone is in charge of transcoding the whiteboard content from meatspace to digital.

GovHack:

  • Perhaps have GovCamp run first, then GovJam (or something similar) and then GovHack, so it goes 1) big ideas, 2) design projects and then 3) implementation projects (for at least some competition goals). This would help produce GovHack outcomes that match current government needs as well as the usual awesome stuff.
  • Differentiate between hackers and observers – helps with catering, and helps get minimum amount of hackers
  • Ensure food is awesome (generally we did well, but we can improve)
  • Streamline the judging process. Perhaps have teams submit a 3 minute video pitch as part of the process so videos can be rapidly played, but also allow more time between team presentations and judging. If we are to go national, perhaps a two pass process for team videos as there may be hundreds. Definitely requires consideration to scale up from this event.
  • The team rego system was good, but we did have to make small tweaks throughout the weekend. Next time we’ll know from the start what we need from teams to deal with judging logistics.

We have a survey up and would love you to fill it out, or add your thoughts below in the comments so we can make next year even better :)

Comments

  1. Steven Lopez

    June 21, 2012

    Good job to all those who participated, contributed and turned up! – especially Pia and all the volunteers!

    I flew in to the Canberra one myself and it was an amazing event, really one of the better ones I’ve ever been to. Lots of great ideas being tossed about and some amazing things being developed right through the night and day!

    Here’s hoping you guys do go national, I’ll be the first one registered to attend – in QLD (Warm plz!)

    Steven Lopez
    GovHack Mentor from Ninefold | http://twitter.com/augrunt

  2. linkadmin

    June 21, 2012

    Email comment, published with permission:

    Thanks for this report.

    One unsung highlight was the remarkable quality of the webstreams. I wish Parliament House’s webstream was as easy on the eye and ear.

    Another was the workshops. Though there was uneven attendance the workshops I attended were diverting and helpful. The more conventional GovCamp was interesting and rewarding as well.

    John Hilvert
    ITnews.com.au

  3. Pia Waugh

    June 27, 2012

    Some good recommendations from one of the teams for opening government data.

    RecommendationsToGovernment
     
    In trying to build this App we discovered several problems which we have provided recommendations to government on how they could improve

    Recommendations
    Dear Government, if you would be so kind as to consider the following recommendations. More than the app we built this past weekend, is the conversations with the other competitors about the hurdles standing in their way of doing even cooler things. We feel these recommendations would benefit any organisation or company looking to leverage open government data for value-add, resulting in better psychological trust of ‘the system’ by the individual (as our App demonstrates) as well as providing new innovation and business opportunities helping capital growth:

    Recommendation no.1: standard data formats – Governments’ could easily enable new businesses and innovations (like our OkCapital App), by coordinating (or requiring) government agencies to make data available in common formats like CSV, Microdata and/or RDF. e.g. trying to something as simple as a ‘Quality of Air Index’ number from each state was very difficult because of the various formats the number was provided in, e.g. some had buried it in a spreadsheet, some had it available via a pop-up or ASP wrapper that we couldn’t easily scrape the data. In short, make your data available so machines can easily read it (not just humans; PDF is bad for the environment!).

    Recommendation no.2 – easy to use by common hacker tools – Get more hackers together to recommend common tool sets for accessing and reusing the data (#GovHack is brilliant). All to often government gets some ‘advisor’ who claims to be the world expert in this or that, the trouble with that is the expert is not aware of how the average programmer (aka ‘hacker’) wants to quickly and easily work with the data, e.g. if you are going to say that RDF and SPARQL are the official government recommended tools then make sure you go the extra distance and make those (not very common hacker tools) work for the common hacker. It is the average sixteen year old Ruby or PHP hacker who this data must be available to use! Note: it is easy enough to create canned SPARQL queries that pull out the most commons requested CSV datasets so we are not saying which data formats should get use (we wouldn’t pretend to be the world experts), but we do know what it is like to be frustrated by trying to get the data in PDF or complicated Triplestores when writing a scraper over HTML or XPath or CSV would be so much easier!

    Recommendation no.3 – do it better than other global governments – One of the advantages Australia has over other G8 countries is that it has naturally formed into a grouping of sight major cities. These cities act as a natural meme by which Australia can demonstrate the coordination of open government data. For example both the UK and US while pouring millions into their data.gov websites are stretched to model their data in neat and clean ways (America is too large and the UK has too much history). Australia has the very real potential to ‘punch above its weight’ by being a world leader in government data management. Just as our coastline geography has resulted in some of the best swimmers in the world, so can our grouping of cities result in our data being world class in management!

  4. Donal

    July 1, 2012

    What was the WiFi like and how many hackers came?

Add a comment

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