GovHack the Olympic Trials of Developer Events?

DISCLAIMER: I’m quite sure my analysis has errors / and that my opinions are odd / but that’s what the comments section is for – hoorah!

It has been over three weeks since GovHack and I’ve only just now had a minute to stop and write some quick thoughts down.  To say the least, Govhack was an incredible achievement.  The team in Canberra, lead by Pia Waugh, has taken an event that was a very good event and turned it into a world leading data event <–  it is this potential which has me truly excited.  This post explains why.

GovHack Olympiad Champions: Team Unlockd

Let me explain: being a citizen of the US & UK [1] means I’ve seen my fair share of developer events over the past decade in all three countries, however nothing has topped this event.  “Why?” might you ask: quite simply because Australia has once again punched above its weight in terms of per population developer talent.  The small population of this country, means that Govhack as an idea has spread further and faster than anyone of us could imagine.  Give this event another two years with this amount of success and you’ll be able to ask the average person on the street if they know about GovHack and the answer will be “yes”.  As evidence to this, let me quickly list some of the coverage this event received from the media:


 So why is the nation interested in GovHack and what makes it a worthwhile story?

  • First off, GovHack is the friendly competition among talented, smart & creative people.  This event (with a little more crafting + fan base) will be as enjoyable to watch/participate in as is going to a football match on the weekend.  In fact, I think this competition is so interesting it could and should be an Olympic sport[3] <– I’m actually quite serious, imagine some of the great code-sporting events that could be created, e.g. the developer decathalon, the code high jump, the data greco-roman wrestling… etc.

  • The second reason (which I’ll cover over on the OKFN blog) is that this event represents a growing community that will be heard by politicians, academics, corporations and anyone else who believes in a better Australia.  This event is far more than just a competition, it is changing the way we think about how we live our civil lives.  See the OKFN-au blog for more.

For the purposes of this post, let’s pretend that GovHack *is* a series of Olympic events, imagine how much more exciting we could make this event to the rest of Australia! 

The GovHack Medals Table:

Let’s look at the big winners this year.  Here is the medal table for national prizes[2]:

  1. Perth: 11 x Gold (33) + 2 x Silver (4) + 4 x Bronze (4) = 41 points

  2. Sydney: 4 x Gold (12), 4 x Silver (8), 1 x Bronze (1) = 21 points

  3. Canberra: 3 x Gold (9) + 4 x Silver (8) + ,2 x Bronze (2) = 19 points

  4. Brisbane/ Goldcoast: 4 x Gold (12), 1 x Silver (2), 2 x Bronze (2) = 16 points

  5. Melbourne: 3 x Gold = 9 points

  6. Adelaide: 3 x Gold = 9 points

  7. Tasmania: 2 x Gold = 6 points

  8. South Australia: 1 x Gold = 3 points

Side note: like the Olympics there is always one event that everyone watches (i.e. the 4×100 medal relay).  IMHO the event at GovHack to watch is the prize at the top of the list: ‘Best Open Government Project’.  As you all know the Gold medal was a tie! ← shocking!!! A tie between the Unlockd team from Melbourne and TheOpenGuys in Canberra means we’ll have to watch closely next year to see who finally is the top of the podium.  A rivalry begins 😉

Overall the national prize winners were:

GovHack Medals Table: 1st: Perth, 2nd: Sydney, 3rd: Canberra

GovHack Medals Table: 1st: Perth, 2nd: Sydney, 3rd: Canberra

Congratulations one and all, just know Melbourne will be back next year more beautiful and brilliant than ever.

The GovHack Money Table:

The above ‘medals table’ is only half the story. Another way to look at the winners is the amount of prize money that each state gave away locally.  Which States were the big winners in terms of their State Government, Companies & Sponsors supporting transparent and open government data?

  1. South Australia (Adelaide): $1000*+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+800+1000+2000+$2000+$40,000+$10,000+$4000+$2000 = TOTAL: $98,800
  2. Queensland (Brisbane+Gold Coast) ← Multiple cities for GovHack (the way forward!): $2600+$1000+$500+$385+$5000+$6500+$6500 = TOTAL: $22,485
  3. Western Australia (Perth): $500+$1000+1000+1000+~$6500 = TOTAL: $10,000
  4. New South Wales (Sydney): $1000*+$1000*+$5000*+$3000+$1000 = TOTAL: $11,000
  5. Australian Capital Territory (Canberra): $1000*+$1000+$5000 = TOTAL: $7,000
  6. Tasmania (Hobart): $1000+$500+$500+~$500 = TOTAL: $2,500
  7. Victoria (Melbourne): $1000+$1000 = TOTAL: $2000

Despite Melbourne coming last this year, we were still the most beautiful 😉  I’d also extend a hand out to my favorite island in the world Tasmania – let us commiserate together in being the most beautiful of Australian locations! Tasmania really did a wonderful job organising, especially given the actual fire they had to fight off!!!

*= these were prizes listed as national prizes put up by states, and won by local teams.

In short, to stick with this Olympics analogy, the winners are….

GovHack Melbourne- Beautiful hacks (1)

  1. Gold goes to South Australia, far and away the winner this year! This level of local support is something for the rest of us to aspire to!

  2. Silver goes to Queensland, who should also get credit for being the first multi-city event, something we in Melbourne are hoping to achieve next year with our bay-sister-city Geelong.

  3. Bronze goes to Western Australia who IMHO have proved to be just amazing this year and deserve a virtual round of applause from all of us for being the champions they are in both the money and medals table!

Closing Ceremony

In closing, I can only express how wonderful it was to be part of this event.  For me the competition is wonderful, and the talent that everyone brought to the table was world class – as country we would have won an international GovHack Olympics.  Next year is going to even be better.

But more than the competition is the community.  Even in the Olympics, the thing that people walk away with is not a memory of all the individual winners but how the event brings people together in new ways.  For me, win or lose, GovHack is just a wonderful, creative, energised group of people who want a better world – I look forward to seeing all my fellow Melbourne GovHack-ers soon, and see the rest of your next year (if not sooner).

May the odds be ever in your favour 😉 ← please do note the irony in this post, as the one thing GovHack demonstrates is that data is something you can tell stories with, as I have done above 🙂

Thanks once again to our  local Melbourne sponsors, please follow their twitter accounts to show your appreciation:

@ M e l b I T S R e s e a r c h



[1]= and hopefully I’ll be an Australian citizen soon as well 🙂

[2]= While some purists may think the Olympics is only a bron and not a brain event, see the 1948 Summer Olympics.

[3]= Please note national prizes which were location specific (NSW & Canberra) were not included in the table as the prizes primarily went to local winners.  I’ve included these prizes in the money league table instead.

[3]= Teams I’ll be cheering for next year include:


~ by dfflanders on June 21, 2013.

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