GovHack ACT Winners Giving Data a Voice

GovHack is a hackathon to create solutions focused on making life better through open data. The competition sees over 1500 participants, 240 pitched projects and is held over 26 locations across Australia.

GovHack was created as a ‘challenge’ to the public with the objective of raising the profile and showing the value of open government data. This year marks the 10th of building partnerships with governments and industry.

The winners of the ACT event was VOX DATA, a collaborative effort by local Canberra entrepreneurs Shooby Kandel of MUDE Creative, Myles Terry and Bart Badalassi of BBMT Consulting, and Nash Khanal of Webtec Solutions.

We spoke to Myles and Shooby about winning GovHack ACT and the collaboration behind it.

What was your entry all about?

S: The project is called VOX Data – Vox meaning voice, we are giving data a voice.

M: The challenge was ‘using past data to predict a better future’, so we thought that since we all love Canberra, we should do Quality of Life (QOL) measures. We wanted to make a platform to visualize what the data currently says about the quality of life in Canberra, to make predictions about where those numbers are going. The whole time keeping in mind that open data is hard to use, we had to consolidate the data into visually appealing graphics that are simple to communicate. We created a place where anyone can see the QOL measures in a way that is easy to interpret and make future predictions from.

S: It is a number and a chart: anyone can see the data and understand it, anyone can make predictions from it, and people can rank things they believe are most important.

How did this collaboration come about?

M: I knew someone who runs GovHack and he was explaining the competition to me. I thought how good this would be to have a crack at the challenge, and get our names out there as data problem solvers. I had a concept to work on and knew I needed a creative touch, so I called on Shooby at MUDE to join the team.

S: Myles and I have known each other for a few years through networking events and coworking, since we knew each other’s backgrounds and strengths the collaboration came pretty naturally. We are both in the coworking space at the Canberra Innovation Network and know what everyone is good at, so we came in with a strong skillset as a team.

What does winning GovHack mean to you?

S: We really did this to network and meet like-minded individuals and show the government what we can do – our aim wasn’t to win although we are glad that happened.

M: We all are from Canberra and love Canberra, so being able to be a part of the change in society is important to us.

What’s next for VOX Data?

S: The ACT Government has a project on Quality of Life indicators which has a March 2020 deadline and they have reached out to us as they are interested in the application which is pretty exciting.

M: I have a meeting with the Chief Information Officer at ACT Health based on the same thing – learning about VOX Data. The ball is really rolling on this idea since winning GovHack, it’s all happening!

To learn more about VOX Data you can visit their GovHack entry page, as well as their website.

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