GovHack kicks off tonight, Friday July 29, and is offering winners $3000 in prizes.
GovHack kicks off tonight, Friday July 29, and is offering winners $3000 in prizes.

$3000 in prizes up for grabs at Ocean St event

A SHARED prize of $3000 is up for grabs at GovHack 2016, which kicks off tonight.

Everyone is welcome - from geeks to digital creators, entrepreneurs, civic society enthusiasts and technology wizards.

Starting at 6pm, GovHack is an annual hack-a-thon competition that aims to uncover new digital products and services that can benefit the community.

This year's event will take place simultaneously in 39 locations across Australia and New Zealand over this weekend, with the Sunshine Coast headquarters at Spark Bureau.

Sunshine Coast Council's economic development portfolio councillor Stephen Robinson said there were some "terrific” incentives for our region's brightest digital technology sparks to let their creative talents run free in the council-supported, two-day event.

"The GovHack competition is unique in nature as participants are required to use open data provided by local, state and federal governments and other collaborators to drive their innovative ideas,” Cr Robinson said.

"There's no limit to the scope of ideas that can be submitted. It's a 46-hour challenge to see who can come up with new products and services that will explore new ways of using government data.”

Local winners will share in more than $3000 of cash prizes.

"The competition is open to students, local business owners, designers, software developers - our youngest competitor last year was eight years old - and local business owners are also invited to attend to share their own success stories and help spark innovative ideas,” Cr Robinson said.

Previous winning GovHack entries within Australia include a smart energy meter 'app', a device that estimates train passenger counts in real-time and an interactive application that pays tribute to indigenous community members who served during the First and Second World Wars.

Inaugural Hackfest winner Sean Bannister said participating in events like GovHack could unlock a host of future opportunities in the digital world for participants.

"In Hackfest, Jordan Josic and I teamed up to develop an app to help motorists find free available car parks and then remind them when they need to move their cars - so essentially this is something that can turn our car parks into smart car parks,” Mr Bannister said.

"Council has since worked with us to further develop our idea and these are the sort of doorways that can be opened by participating in events like GovHack.

"The Sunshine Coast is becoming a real hub for digital startup businesses and entrepreneurs and there are so many fantastic competitions, events and community groups within our region to encourage and enable local people to explore their digital technology skills and work towards a career in this exciting industry.”

GovHack 2016 will kick off with an official opening ceremony on Friday evening at 6pm at Spark Bureau in Maroochydore. Participants will then be encouraged to brainstorm and form teams around the best ideas.

All participants are required to complete their entry by 5pm on Sunday, July 31.

For more information about the Sunshine Coast GovHack event, click here.

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