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GovHack 2015 – Innovating with government data

29 Jun 2015

What do Twitter, GroupMeet and Facebook’s Like button all have in common? They all were invented at a hackathon.

If you’re familiar with the world of hacking, you may already be aware of GovHack, an upcoming national event to be held across New Zealand on 3-5 July 2015 that will see New Zealand’s best and brightest pitting against each other to innovate and create with government data.

GovHack has a simple premise. Over 46 hours, small teams collaborate by accessing open central, local and regional data to create something valuable. The aim is to celebrate and build the technology sector’s technical and creative capacity, connecting citizens with government for great outcomes, and building upon the social and economic value of open data published by government.

Teams submit their creative "hacks" at the end of the weekend to be judged by a competition panel and the public. The most common creations are web applications, mobile applications, or visualisations.

The Wellington GovHack event is to be hosted by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Hack Miramar, a company that specialises in organising technology events and advocating for more adoption, education and investment in technology.

“When we found out GovHack was going to be held in New Zealand, we jumped at the opportunity to get involved and showcase what can be done when government data is set free,” says Mike Riversdale, Co-founder of Hack Miramar.

HP New Zealand is this year's Titanium sponsor for GovHack New Zealand and Mika Joronen, HP Account Executive for Government, says HP is proud to be part of an event that supports innovation and creativity.

“The beauty of GovHack is that it demonstrates the endless potential of what can be created when people are given access to Big Data and resources, and put their minds to creating a solution.

“We are excited to be involved with the event and look forward to seeing what creative ideas come through. People from all areas – government, private sector and the hacker community – coming together in this context, enable innovation to thrive.”

Riversdale agrees, and emphasises the importance of community and working together. “GovHack isn’t just a competition; it’s an opportunity to show off the community and its innovative skills. There is so much data out there that isn’t being utilised to its full potential, this event allows people to collaborate and work together to create something new.”

The government holds a lot of data, but security and privacy of individuals during GovHack is always protected.

“Hacking is about building something as opposed to breaking-in to something. It’s creative rather than destructive,” says Riversdale.

“There is already a huge amount of government data available through as well as local and regional council data. GovHack highlights that this data is out there, and shows what can happen if we bring people together with particular problems or challenges to solve,” Riversdale explains.

Riversdale also urges potential participants to not be put off by the technical nature of the events.

“The best teams are those that are not just made up of tech geeks and hackathons often live or die by the people who have a problem, view point or solution in mind but don’t have the capability to go and solve it. It’s often the ‘non-geeks’ who drive the vision.”

Recently a team at a Hack Miramar event devised an app called TaxiPool, which allows people to share taxis with people going to the same place as them, instead of having several different taxis driving to fundamentally the same place.

“The idea behind this app was to allow Government agencies to save money, and more importantly have only one cab on the road instead of three. At GovHack we hope we will be able to see similar types of creativity and innovation using technology in action,” says Riversdale.

GovHack NZ events will be held between Fri 3rd – Sun 5th July in various locations around NZ.  To find out more, visit