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GovHack 2012

Climate Vis Jewellery - Marble Bar, Canberra, Perth, Melbourne and Darwin

What happens when you let loose 140 hackers on Government open datasets over a 48 hour period? Totally awesome mashups and visualisations at GovHack, that’s what! On 1st to 3rd of June 2012, my hubby and I took part in GovHack 2012. GovHack is one of a series of events happening as part of Inspire Innovation (part of Innovation Week). I was involved as a mentor but, despite feeling the challenge of being a designer in a room full of great developers, decided to get involved as a husband and wife team called CrankyBot (based on my laser cutting design line). I was a bit intimidated by the amount of great hacking that was happening (you could feel the room buzzing with energy) but we had a couple of questions that we wanted to solve.

What & why?

How do we raise awareness of the awesomeness of science? What does temperature in your local area actually feel like? Can we make it wearable? What does Data Driven Jewellery look like? Our Govhack submission, Climate Vis Jewellery, was the intersection of science and art – a physical, wearable visualisation of the ACORN-SAT data provided by the Bureau of Meteorology.

Laser cutter cutting our one of our Climate Vis Jewellery pieces

  •  Despite loving all things digital, we still love the tangibility of being able to see and feel temperature changes through physical representations.
  • We want to help raise awareness of science. By making physical visualisations of the temperature, we want to get people interested in the impact and usefulness of science in our lives, particularly in the global context of climate change.
  • And finally, well, because science and lasers are cool! (hot?)

 Make your own

In the spirit of GovHack, we’re made this available from the thing on Thingiverse so everyone can make their own! If you don’t have access to a laser, I’ll be refining this and making more over the next few weeks through my CrankyBot store.

Other cool stuff from GovHack

There were so many fantastic projects that resulted from GovHack. Check out the full list of projects from eGov. I had so many favourites, some of which included:

  • WeatheredOak by NullReference (Adam is also a member of our Canberra hackerspace, Make Hack Void) – because APIs are cool and allow people to do even cooler stuff
  • Walk My Way by Lonesome Dove as I like the idea of exercising while waiting for Action buses (Canberra’s public transport)
  • The OpenBudget by 2 Guys 1 App as it has a lovely visualisation of very important stuff (money!)
  • Route me by Timeless traveller – using twitter to help find bus routes in Canberra
  • History in ACTION by History in ACTION  – getting a random ‘tour’ of Canberra using National Archives data, based on bus routes
  • Is your Polly smarter than a 5th grader? by MovingForward – cute user interface
  • 100 Years by Code Cadets (Lochie is also a member of Make Hack Void)
  • A day in the Life by The Outsiders – lovely mashups of every day life

 Pics and stuff

Thanks to Gavin Tapp for these great photos that captured our weekend. You can view the rest of his lovely GovHack photos.

The room full of busy hackers
The innovation/hacking room
Alastair adding the finishing touches
Alastair adding the finishing touches to our data visualisations
Photo taken from the top floor, over looking the crowd at GovHack Canberra
GovHack Canberra presentations
Alastair & Ruth - photo by Gavin Tapp
Hubby and I on stage during our 3 minute pitch
Judge from the National Archives
The judge from the National Archives checking out one of our physical data visualisation piecesThe Marble Bar visualisation about to get painted - it's one of my favourite pieces as it shows such a diversity of temperaturesAdelaide temperature visualisations in earring format

Thank you

A big thank you to the organisers of GovHack. I’ve taken part in organising a few events so I understand the stress and exhaustion that goes with it, but the organising team has done such a wonderful job keeping everything running smoothly and keeping us all very well fed! A big thank you to them, to the sponsors and to the Government agencies who have kindly opened up their data to let us play with it.

Over this weekend, I learned the importance of open datasets, particularly when you have a bunch of passionate people who can do some awesome things. And most importantly, I learned that it’s important to get involved and get making!

Published inDesignGovernmentLasers


  1. I totally love that you turned data into jewelry! Also psst your etsy store link is broken – I still found it though ;)

  2. y6byr0 Im grateful for the article post.Much thanks again. Will read on…

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