GovHack is about getting our best and brightest around the country working with government data to innovate and create. It’s about encouraging and celebrating our technical and creative capacity, connecting citizens with government for great outcomes, and building on the social and economic value of open data published by government.

Watch/listen to Mike Riversdale of Hack Miramar talk about GovHack at the recent Open Data Showcase at Parliament.

The event requires small teams of competitors to produce any kind of “hack” using government data in 46 hours, from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. The format of a “hack” is unspecified, but the most common are web applications, mobile applications, or visualisations.



The 2016 Nationwide GovHack NZ EXPLAINED

Thanks to @YayNickQ, Comissioner, Major League Hacking

We’ve found that many people haven’t heard of hackathons, particularly those who work in government. Our conversations with Council Executives tend to go like this:

GovHack NZ: We love holding hackathons.

Council Exec: You what?!!

GovHack NZ: We love holding hackathons. They’re one of the most fun things we do! Seeing people in our community hack on things with developers, designers and entrepreneurs is rewarding and we always see something new.

Council Exec: But, hacking is illegal, and we don’t want to be part of that!

GovHack NZ: It’s not that kind of hacking. The term hacking comes from the early days of computers; it just means working with and creating cool code and apps. At some point, it came to mean breaking into systems. Today, it really has two meanings: (1) coding and loving it and (2) breaking into things. When we say hackathon, we’re referring to the first definition.

Council Exec: Alright, so what are those hackathons, then anyway?

GovHack NZ: Hackathons are events put together to bring the coding community together. They’re typically over a weekend. “Hackers” get together and pitch ideas. People then split into teams and work on turning the ideas into apps. At the end of the weekend, every team presents their apps. There’s usually some judging and prizes too.

Council Exec: What good are these apps?

GovHack NZ: That’s actually a really good question! Most of the time, they’re pretty useful, because someone had a problem and made a solution at the hackathon. Sometimes, hackathons are organized to solve a problem, and better society. The apps that come out of those are fantastic as they usually help solve larger problems.

Council Exec: Are hackathons something we should get involved in then?

GovHackNZ: Absolutely you should! Governments are a really important part of the hackathon scene for lots of reasons. They hold lots of data that can be used to make peoples’ lives better. By making this available to developers, designers, and entrepreneurs, they can discover completely new ways to deliver public services to their community. But most importantly, they are a lot of FUN!