Tasmania GovHack 2017 awards showcase local IT talent

HACKATHON: IT Minister Michael Ferguson, Simon Cozens, Declan Rixon, Grifin Brooks and event organiser James Riggal. Picture: Stefan Boscia

HACKATHON: IT Minister Michael Ferguson, Simon Cozens, Declan Rixon, Grifin Brooks and event organiser James Riggal. Picture: Stefan Boscia

The award ceremony for GovHack Tasmania 2017 on Friday saw winners recognised in eight award categories at Enterprize Launceston.

The aim of the three-day IT competition is to make local and state government provided data-sets, such as public toilet locations or births and deaths archives, into an understandable format for the general public to use through apps, games or infographics.

Two teams from Launceston managed to take out two of the eight prizes.

Winner of the Most Outstanding Benefit of Tasmania Award was Simon Cozens – a lecturer at Worldview Centre for Intercultural Studies. 

“The project is a family history search engine,” he said.

“It takes data from the state archives about births, marriages, deaths and convict information. It puts them all together so you can search for people and tell their stories.

Another standout was the high-school team of Declan Rixon and Grifin Brooks. 

The 18-year-old pair won the Encouragement Award for their project that used census data to create demographic maps based on people’s responses to various questions.

AWARD WINNERS: Grifin Brooks and Declan Rixon won the Encouragement Award at the Tasmanian GovHack awards. Picture: Stefan Boscia

AWARD WINNERS: Grifin Brooks and Declan Rixon won the Encouragement Award at the Tasmanian GovHack awards. Picture: Stefan Boscia

According to the Australian Computer Society’s 2017 Digital Pulse report, the national IT sector will gain 80,000 jobs over the next five years – a rate that dwarfs the predicted overall job growth inthis period. 

However, based on rates of enrollment in IT university courses, there will be an increase of just 30,000 locally qualified IT workers prepared to enter the sector’s growing workforce in this period.

Tasmanian IT and Innovation Minister Michael Ferguson said that competitions like GovHack will help boost awareness about opportunities in the IT sector.

“[The competition] is new and interesting for young people, in particular. It’s encouraging them to look at the IT industry as a career path,” he said.

“My message to young people is if you’re interested in this, have a very close look at it, because it’s a growing industry, it’s not going away, and it’s a well paid and rewarding job to get in to.”

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