Hackers a cut above

By David Kavanagh | posted on October 31, 2019

IT WAS an app made in the span of just two days that snagged a Great Southern Grammar team top prizes at last week’s Govhack WA awards.

The GSG Govhackers were presented three accolades at the award ceremony live-streamed from Perth, including for Most Creative Use of WA Data.

The tech-minded troupe created their winning InstaPlace web app during the annual Govhack Albany event at the Public Library in September.

There they were tasked alongside six other teams and more than 30 people with using open government data to come up with creative solutions for local issues over a single weekend.

Year 10 student Kelvin Hands said the team’s creation focused on developing “a sense of place” for the region’s young people.

“The whole idea of InstaPlace was that a teenager like me or a tourist could go on there, look up places to visit and look at reviews and that sort of stuff,” he said.

“The goal was to engage local youth by having them produce media and videos [to be displayed on the app] which would give them something to do and get them moving around our city.”

Kelvin worked with Year 10 student Ben Terry, Year 7 students Owen Baxter-Holland and Joe Hawke and GSG staff members Kieran Bailey, Matt Beamish and Elinor Couper on the app.

They utilised open street map data, animal and government service databases and even information from the Heritage Council of WA to bring their design to life.

Mr Bailey, heading the school’s IT department, said the hackathon was a great opportunity for the students.

“From a teacher’s point of view, it really ticked off a lot of those STEM learning areas,” he said.

“We were able to extend ourselves and it was fantastic. We’re hoping for bigger and better things next year.”

The GSG Govhackers said they were eager to continue work on the app and were considering adding a bike-sharing function for youth without driver’s licences.

Govhack Albany has been coordinated for the past three years by Creative Albany.

The organisation’s Leon Delpech said the event provided a chance for people of all ages and from various disciplines to network and work together.

“It’s great to see these young people talking to each other, discussing stuff and hacking something like that together,” he said.

“It’s the reason we run it, to give people that don’t have the chances or access or abilities to do projects like this.”

He encouraged interested schools or groups to consider taking part in 2020.