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And the Mashie Goes To…[drum roll]

2009 December 14


It gives us great pleasure to announce that the winners of the MashupAustralia contest have now been announced.

In case you have missed it, here is some background about the contest – from launch and initial response to a final wrap-up.

We’ve also tried to follow the conversation that you have been having elsewhere about the contest. Most recently, we came across this interesting four part discussion on the All Things Spatial blog about some of the contest entries (see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

All that remains is to know who will go home with the coveted Mashie (see image (yes, the trophy is a potato masher)) and, of course, the prize money. Our esteemed judging panel have deliberated and considered all of the entries against the rules. As we indicated might happen, more than one prize per category has been awarded because there were so many high quality entries.

For Excellence in Mashing, the Mashies go to:

  • Surburban Trends a mashup of different types of crime and census data that allows you compare and contrast suburbs by a range of economic, education, safety and socio-economic indicators. The judges thought the ability to compare suburbs visually combined with the selective choice of statistics was excellent especially in a field dominated by many entries using similar datasets.
  • Know Where You Live which bills itself as a prototype of a mashup of a range of open access government data based on postcodes so that you can truly know where you live. The judges loved the very citizen-centric “common questions” user experience of this app and the groovy, and again, selective repackaging of what could otherwise be considered (we’ll be honest here) slightly boring data. The integration of publicly-held historical photographs and rental price data was a nice touch as was the use of Google’s satellite images in the header. Judges were disappointed that some of the data for states other than NSW wasn’t available for inclusion. The focus on compliance only with the most modern standards compliant browsers was not seen as detrimental to this mashup.

The Highly Commendable Mashups were:

  • geo2gov which serves an excellent example of what can be possible with open government data. This entry provided an online service that will take a location description in a wide range of formats, and map that location to the government. The testament to its utility was demonstrated by the fact that several other entries used geo2gov. Contest judge Mark Pesce said that this app that was such an impressive prototype of what was possible with government data that it made his geeky pants wet.
  • Firemash a timely entry that analyses notices from the state of New South Wales’ Rural Fire Service and sends you a tweet if you are at risk. The judges were particularly impressed with this entry’s use of different services and its real time web goodness. The ability for citizens to submit fire information and be notified of nearby fires was quite unique. The dual purpose – citizen to Government and Government to citizen – possibilities with this site made it one of the few submitted mashups to explore data in this way.

And the Notable Mashing Achievements were:

  • In Their Honour which brings together service records, maps and photographs for each of the service men and women who have died for Australia. The judging panel felt that although a similar service already exists provided by the Australian War Memorial,  this entry explored the data in a noticeably different way attracting the opportunity for a different kind of engagement with the same datasets.
  • LobbyLens shows connections relevant to government business (e.g., government suppliers, government agencies, politician responsibilities, lobbyists etc.). For the judging panel, the relationship visualizations that this entry gave aligned well with much of purpose of Government 2.0 even if its usability needs a lot of work.
  • FlipExplorer this entry combines an interactive online search interface, 3D tagcloud, and timeline widget, which allows you to browse through the Powerhouse Museum’s Collection as you would any physical book. Although not truly a mashup of more than one data source, the judges felt that this was an impressive use of a visual interface.

For the People’s Choice Award, once we adjusted for the malicious voting up and voting down (shame on you who partook), the clear winner was In Their Honour — which is consistent with the judge’s thoughts on its usability. As commenter Nerida Deane said “I just looked up my Great Uncle Al and found the site easy to use and I liked the information it gave me. Maybe one day I’ll have a chance to visit his memorial.”

The Student Prize goes to Suburban Trends (obviously) and to Suburban Matchmaker, which the judges felt was a clever idea (albeit potentially raising some interesting questions for future ethics classes). Because rewarding and encouraging our students can never be a bad thing, the judges also agreed to award both Earth:Australia and Community Rivers each a partial student prize for a commendable effort in student mashing.

Finally, the Transformation Challenge for entries that enhance and/or make datasets available for re-use programmatically – the bonus prizes are awarded to geo2gov (see above), Neogopher (judges’ comment: this provides a pretty comprehensive set of transformation and API access to many of the datasets in one place) and absxml (judges’ comment: a nice conversion idea that needs a bit of work to make it more usable.).

Finally, as part of any awards ceremony some thank-yous are required. A repeated big thank you to all of those involved in organizing the hackfests, to those who participated in the events and everyone who submitted entries or provided comments and feedback. Many thanks are due to our esteemed judging panel for their time and attention to all 82 entries. Thanks also to the Federal, State and Territory government agencies who provided datasets for the contest. And to the teams on the Taskforce Secretariat at the Australian Government Information Management Office and at the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy who provided the project support. This has been a collaboration in every sense of the word and hopefully demonstrated its purpose namely, to show what is possible when agencies liberate their data…

[cue the music to cut the presenter short and get them off the stage]

7 Responses
  1. 2009 December 14


  2. 2010 April 4
    Madeleine Kingston permalink

    This innovative online facility should be enthusiastically embraced by all who are seeking simplified and interactive communication and active participation in public policy, stakeholder input and business reporting.

    The potential for enhanced communication is enormous as people become more familiar with SBR sites and options and as software developments continue to keep up with 21st century demands for simplified and hopefully more productive communication.

    Sharing of ideas and expectations through e-Gov communications in this way should catch on and fill one of the many voids that have existed in effective dialogue.

    Whilst there is certainly a place for more formal consultative processes there is plenty of room for more immediate chunked dialogue as-it-happens.

    At the same time ideas should be sought as to how formal consultation can be enhanced all round, particularly with regard to timetabling to minimize consultation overload and fatigue

    Australians seek not only to know that there is a place to express their concerns but also some evidence that their views are heard and taken into account in the public policy debate and communication enhancements.

    The general community always values simpler methods and enhanced accessibility to its elected government and other bodies appointed to serve a public duty.

    There is room for breaking down the conceptual and attitudinal barriers to a more modern and accessible approach to stakeholder involvement and reporting. It should always be possible for citizens and businesses to directly approach government and other bodies fulfilling a government duty outside of formal consultative processes. I look forward to improvements in accessibility and communication in a very real sense.

    These initiatives to enhance community engagement are just what the doctor ordered, so bring it on.

    Individual Stakeholder

  3. 2010 April 6
    Madeleine Kingston permalink

    Just to follow up on my comments above, I note with some concern that those bodies that are appointed to fulfill a public role (regardless of funding sources), but set up as corporations under Corporations Law, albeit normally as companies limited by guarantee but without share portfolio often have policies in place that may be seen to hinder rather than enhance the principles of accessibility, transparency and enhanced stakeholder engagement.

    Some examples include the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC), which may embrace corporate policies and cultures that preclude direct approaches from stakeholders outside formalized consultative dialogue. The same may apply to the Ministerial Council on Energy and other such bodies.

    Many organizations afforded incorporation but fulfilling a public duty should be required to comply with government policies regarding accessibility, transparency and accountability. Some of these include industry-specific complaints schemes, who often regard themselves as unaccountable except to their Boards of Governance.

    By contrast, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) is more transparent in its operations and transparently admits that despite its incorporation and role, it is an integral part of the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC). This makes it much easier for the public to see who they are dealing with and how expectations of accessibility and transparency can be pursued.

    I refer to the brilliant submission by Andrae Muys Senior Software Engineer in Metadata and Informatics to the Government 2.0 Taskforce in which he refers to the policy stance of Gov2 as follows quoting from page 3 of the Issues Paper:

    “The Taskforce is charged with finding ways of accelerating the development of Government 2.0 to help government consult, and where possible actively collaborate with the community, to open up government and to maximise access to publicly funded information through the use of Web 2.0 techniques.
    (Towards Government 2.0: An Issues Paper, Page 3).

    Muys discusses Web 2.0 view of even traditional documents as dynamic “living records” with a transparent revision history and ” the need for a re-evaluation of the legislative, regulatory, and cultural norms relating to the participation of public servants in the public sphere. Specifically a need to alleviate the unreasonable level of jeopardy they face though participation with Web 2.0.”

    In particular Muys suggests that: “We need to change our perception of the drafting process from a process of drafting and subsequent publication to a process of curation and moderation.”

    Muys recognizes that fear of public criticism may hamper transparency and other Gov2 goals, and recommends that “public servants need to be provided room to fail, if they are not to be forced into paralysis or subversion of the access policy. To operate successfully Gov 2.0 must accept the existence of errors and implement tight corrective feedback loops seeking a trajectory of increasing accuracy.”

    I could not agree more wholeheartedly with Muys’ opinion and expert technical and other advice.

    Let us not forget that this is the 21st century. Stakeholders are more sophisticated and enquiring and seek improved real seek consultation, transparency and governance, with realistic coordinated deadlines and inter-body consultation when policy is formed. I have discussed some of these issues in my two-part submission to the Productivity Commission’s Review of Performance Benchmarking for Australian Businesses (2009), substantially reproduced in a similar two-part submission to the MCE’s NECF2 Consultation RIS, as well as submissions to the PC’s Consumer Policy Review (2008).

    Individual Stakeholder

  4. 2010 April 6
    Madeleine Kingston permalink

    On a practical note I refer to and discuss the objects of the Objects of the (Victorian) Public Administration Act 2004 (s3)

    (a) to ensure the maintenance of an apolitical public sector
    (b) to foster a public sector that—
    (i) responds to government priorities in a manner that is consistent with public sector values
    (ii) provides effective, efficient and integrated service delivery;

    Includes inter-body collaboration in policy-making noting that policy effectiveness is diluted when complex inter-related decisions are made and regulation adopted in one arena without due regard for another.
    One current pertinent example is the pending AEMC’s Rule Change Determination (due by 22Apr10) for the Provision of Metering Data Services and Clarification of Existing Metrology Requirements Rule Change. (sought by the MCE) – which has implications for the AER’s consultation (due date 28 Apr10) on Revised Proposal by Jemena Gas Networks (NSW) Ltd (due date 29Apr10, with particular ref to the competition matters; metering remote functions, billing, outsourcing issues – all with implication for smart metering and smart grid policies being handled separately by the MCE and the new Dept of Climate Change, Energy and Efficiency and Water; bldg codes, infrastructure upgrades; water policies; trade measurement practices – all of which have implications for revised metrology processes and regulations under National measurement provisions (fully effective from 1 Jul10) and for many of the provisions of the revised Australian Consumer Law (exit TPA) Senate enquiry (2) due date 16 March; as well as for building codes, energy and safety provisions and a host of other matters, each apparently being considered in isolation from the other.

    Other Public Sector values:
    (iii) is accountable for its performance
    The public would like to see enhanced accountability (including through online accessible means) for all bodies fulfilling a public role however structured, including incorporated regulators and rule-makers, and not-for-profit bodies

    (c) to establish values and principles to guide conduct and performance within the public sector
    This should be across the board and consistent with careful monitoring of compliance and education to impact on corporate cultural barriers

    (d) to ensure that employment decisions in the public sector are based on merit;
    (e) to promote the highest standards of governance in the public sector;

    (f) to promote the highest standards of integrity and conduct for persons employed within the public sector;
    (g) to strengthen the professionalism and adaptability of the public sector;

    (h) to promote knowledge and understanding of good public administration within the Victorian community.

  5. 2010 April 7
    Madeleine Kingston permalink

    Whilst on a roll, by way of endorsement, I further highlight public accountability, transparency and benchmarking issues already enshrined in some laws (in this case the Victorian Public Administration Act 2004.

    I hope that the core values embraced in the latter of this enactment will represent guiding principles for all initiatives and future legislation at all levels, including the engagement strategies being considered by the admirable goals of the Gov2 Project.

    I also refer to the powerful speech delivered by Dr. Peter Shergold, Secretary, Department of Primary Minister and Cabinet till February 2008, (p4) “At Least Every Three Decades – Acknowledging the Beneficial Role of the Commonwealth Ombudsman” 30th Anniversary of the Commonwealth Ombudsman, c/f Field, C (2007)

    “The Westminster system as the APS values make explicit requirements for public servants to be responsive to elected governments.”

    Yet there are significant constraints on the avowed obeisance and fealty that journalists imagine epitomizes the contemporary relationship between secretaries and the ministers they serve. Rather I talk here not of the robust policy advice that is provided quite appropriately behind closed doors. Rather I talk of the necessity to ensure that neither executive power nor administrative authority are overstepped.”

    7. Public sector values
    (1) The following are the public sector values—
    (a) responsiveness—public officials should demonstrate responsiveness by—

    (i) providing frank, impartial and timely advice to the Government; and

    (ii) providing high quality services to the Victorian community; and

    (iii) identifying and promoting best practice;

    (b) integrity—public officials should demonstrate integrity by—

    (i) being honest, open and transparent in their dealings; and

    (ii) using powers responsibly; and

    (iii) reporting improper conduct; and

    (iv) avoiding any real or apparent conflicts of interest; and

    (v) striving to earn and sustain public trust of a high level;

    (c) impartiality—public officials should demonstrate impartiality by—

    (i) making decisions and providing advice on merit and without bias, caprice, favouritism or self-interest; and

    (ii) acting fairly by objectively considering all relevant facts and fair criteria; and

    (iii) implementing Government policies and programs equitably;

    (d) accountability—public officials should demonstrate accountability by—

    (i) working to clear objectives in a transparent manner; and

    (ii) accepting responsibility for their decisions and actions; and

    (iii) seeking to achieve best use of resources; and
    (iv submitting themselves to appropriate scrutiny;
    (e) respect—public officials should demonstrate

    respect for colleagues, other public officials and members of the Victorian community by—

    (i) treating them fairly and objectively; and
    (ii) ensuring freedom from discrimination, harassment and bullying; and

    (iii) using their views to improve outcomes on an ongoing basis;

    (f) leadership—public officials should demonstrate leadership by actively implementing, promoting and supporting these values.

    (2) Subject to sub-section (3), a public sector body Head must promote the public sector values to public officials employed by or in the body and ensure that any statement of values adopted or applied by the body is consistent with the public sector values.

    Individual Stakeholder

  6. 2010 April 28
    Madeleine Kingston permalink

    Well guys

    I am sorry to say disillusionment is setting in. Most decisions are pre-empted after all. The consultative process means nothing. Basic public service values need to be reinforced. In practice not theory.

    Who will see to it that entrenched and seemingly irresolvable issues are dug up, addressed and it straight?

    What will it take? If mud-raking is the answer I will bring my own spade. Wish it were that simple.



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