“It's not just a way to develop their
skills, but also to learn to work
in the community.”


Each year, the Government runs an open programming event called

to challenge

coders from many different backgrounds. Pia Waugh says she has the coolest job ever. As director of Gov 2.0 in the Federal Government Department of Finance, Pia describes herself as “open data ninja” and “head cat-herder” for one of Australia’s biggest open programming events, a 48-hour ‘hackathon’ called


In 2014, more than 1300 people in 200 teams from 11 cities across Australia met up at various sites on a weekend in July. Their mission: To create great new applications using freely available public information and government data. Oh, and to compete for around $70,000 in prize money.


The teams start on a Friday night and have 48 hours to create a solution and produce a short video summary and ‘pitch’. In the following month, it’s up to a public vote to decide the winner. Some of the 2014 projects include: Rain Parrot, which uses GPS and the Bureau of Meteorology rain radar to send you an alert when rain is 15 minutes away; CancerMash, which summarises trends in cancer statistics; and Project Moneyball, which makes political donations public info. Pia says even high school students participate in


“It’s not just a way to develop their skills, but also to learn to work in the community, to work with code, and it gives them a chance to create a portfolio.” Pia adds that, in the past three years, some have gone on to apply these skills at uni and in business. Plus, the creations at

show potential beyond the competition. “One team created a game called AussieMon – it’s like Pokémon but

uses Australian animals. Kids love those battle card games, so it was a real hit!”

- Article by Fran Molloy

Participate in

Check out the 2015 winnes