And what a hackfest it was

September 15th is The International Day of Democracy and this year also marked the start of the Global Legislative Openness Week (GLOW). GLOW is a week of openness activities around the world, with events hosted by the Legislative Openness Working Group of the Open Government Partnership and members of the parliamentary openness community. To celebrate GLOW, the OpenAustralia Foundation ran one of our legendary hackfests on the weekend of the 20th and 21st.

And what a hackfest it was. Our most successful ever – if the number of code contributions is anything to go by. 18 pull requests from over half a dozen different authors in just one weekend is a excellent achievement. These contributions have made valuable and tangible improvements to a number of our civic projects.

We started the weekend with an introduction to parliamentary and legislative openness and an exciting new project we’re soon to launch. This progressed into a discussion with participants about what challenges they want to use civic tech to address and what everyone wanted to work on over the weekend. Matthew set the scene for the weekend:

“Let’s make stuff. What will you make?”

Over the weekend participants were encouraged to run breakout sessions on topic or projects that interested them. Nick explored political donation data, Luke gave us a detailed look at our soon-to-be-released parliamentary vote tracker project and Matthew provided an introduction to web scraping on our platform.

We were very pleased to have representatives from the Australian Federal Parliamentary Library attend our hackfest. To our knowledge this was the first time staff from any of Australia’s parliaments have attended a hackfest in an official capacity. They quickly discovered that we share many of the same interests in parliamentary data and Hannah generously shared her knowledge of parliamentary procedure in another exciting and informative breakout session.

When the dust settled Sunday afternoon our show and tell revealed the impressive results of a fun weekend hacking parliamentary, legislative and democratic data. In addition to the many pull requests, Sash had created a beautiful new rich email template for, Matthew had used MapIt to finally solve the problem of easily mapping your location to electorates, Alex added great new Parliamentary Bills data to the scraper, and Tracy developed much improved forms with Luke on our soon to be released parliamentary voting project.

Thank you to everyone that participated, you made it the amazing weekend that it was. Thanks to Googlers Tim and Jack for volunteering all weekend and thanks once again to our hosts Google for their continued support.

See you at the next pub meet or hackfest,


P.S. Check out more great photos of the hackfest by Lisa Cross.

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