City hackers get gong

WINNERS: Lewis Lakerink, Brett Jeffreson (hidden), Asher Leslie, James Lewis, Luoxi Pan, and Jesmigel Cantos.
WINNERS: Lewis Lakerink, Brett Jeffreson (hidden), Asher Leslie, James Lewis, Luoxi Pan, and Jesmigel Cantos.

A team of Ballarat hackers have won a Victorian award for their work revamping the Royal Commission into Family Violence website.

Brett Jeffreson, Asher Leslie, Lewis Lakerink, Luoxi Pan, Jesmigel Cantos and James Lewis designed a much improved version of the website in just two days as part of the annual GovHack competition in Australia and New Zealand. 

The team took out the prestigious Victorian Government’s ‘Faces of Domestic Violence’ award’.

Their entry provides a new way of accessing and visualising the fast amount of information the Royal Commission into Family Violence has attracted through submissions. 

The theoretical upgrade saw the submissions section, comprising of more than 25,000 pdf pages, fitted with a new keyword search to allow for easier access to cases, as opposed to the current title only search. 

The adjustment  allowed people to see specific themes in the 828 submissions and meant the hackers were able to create a geographical map to pinpoint where submissions came from based on text analysis.

GovHack is an international competition where individuals and teams use government datasets to create new digital products which have potential to generate public and private benefit. 

Criminal Statistics Data Agency tables documenting the reported instances of family violence were were also included in the map. Ballarat Co-ordinator George Fong said the city was leading the way in terms of revolutionising the digital world and how people access information.  

“We’re over the moon,” Mr Fong said. “In the last three years, Ballarat has achieved a significant number of state and national awards for the field which is a very good outcome for the city.” 

Closer to home, a smart phone app advising motorists where to best park in the city won the 2016 GovHack Ballarat Awards. Using the City of Ballarat’s parking data, the  ‘One Big Mess’  team developed an app that shows the best places to park in the CBD. A team of Ballarat Grammar School students mentored by local resident Scott Weston were also awarded a national ‘Spirit of GovHack’ award for their ‘Parko’ smart phone app.