GovHack 2012 – an eye opening experience for the Archives


GovHack 2012 was probably the best way for the National Archives of Australia to kick off our new Labs Blog. GovHack 2012 embodies what the new Archives’ labs environment will be all about, finding creative solutions to encourage greater use and access of Government data. We think @dfflanders said it best, ‘the coolest thing to do with your data will be thought of by someone else’ and there were definitely some cool solutions created. Seeing the enthusiasm that people had for our datasets has given us extra motivation to investigate how we can experiment and expose even more of the collection. We are extremely interested to hear your comments on the competitor’s entries and ideas for what we could integrate into our own Archives Labs Environment when it is launched. On to the GovHack goodness.

Digital Humanities – Overall prize

The overall winners (The Outsiders) of the Digital Humanities theme created A Day in the Life. The site provides its users which a snap shot of what Australia looked like on a particular day, including photographs (from the Archives), what the weather was like, the events which took place on that day, the government of the time, and what the population count was. A ‘Day in the Life’ took out the overall prize because it provides an opportunity to take a sneak peak at Australia throughout our history and provides an opportunity to understand what was impacting the country at that point in time. Have you ever wondered how much a loaf of bread cost on a particular day? Check it out on the site. See: A Day in the Life

Best use of Archives’ data – Canberra

Best use of the Archives’ data for Canberra was taken out by the History in Action team who created a site for the Canberra Centenary. This team caused a huge round of applause when they delivered their presentation and it was obvious the site created a buzz. The site gives Canberrans and visitors the opportunity to create their own personalised bus tour exploring Canberra’s rich history. See: History in Action

Best use of Archives’ data – Sydney

The Double Rainbows team took out the best use of Archives’ data prize in Sydney. The team delivered a super-fast replacement option for the Archives’ current PhotoSearch utility. The site lets users scroll past hundreds of images, without ever having to click ‘next’. It dynamically filters results on the fly by state and year and has an intuitive interface which returns search results immediately. It also lets users Tweet gems to their friends and followers and is fully accessible via mobile devices anywhere, anytime. See: PhotoSearch – Super-fast

And still more

The judge’s decision was not an easy one, especially considering the intense competition around the dataset which referenced our PhotoSearch database including:

An insight into our data

GovHack 2012 gave the Archives an invaluable opportunity to understand how our data would be used in a co-creation environment between government and the developer community. Some of the solutions were extremely unique, and others provided great ideas for how we could improve access to our collection. GovHack also gave us feedback and an understanding of the difficulties people face when using our data in its current structure, and the issues they face when using information which is captured for one purpose but actually needs to be captured for many purposes. Let us know your thoughts. Cheers, Geoff Mason

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