GovHack: Government Data & the Acquia Drupal 8 Hackerspace

GovHack is an annual hackathon that runs in Australia and New Zealand, where participants have 46 hours to create innovative new products using the open data published by government bodies. It started in 2007 with a single event held in Canberra, and has now grown to more than 40 locations and 3,000 participants.

Acquia was thrilled to provide support to GovHack for a 2nd year in 2017.

GovHack provides an important opportunity for the community to interact with government data - with the support and encouragement of the publishing agencies. For almost a decade now, government agencies have been making an increasing amount of data available for anyone to use - but doing so is not always easy. And making something relatable with this data requires a mix of different skills. It's not all about programmers. Effectively using data also needs story tellers, graphic designers, and scientists. Connecting teams with problems where understanding data can help is a key aspect.

GovHack is an important part of the open government ecosystem. Each year it provides a focal-point for government agencies to release and refresh their data - and find ways to make it easier to utilise. And each year, new people enter the GovHack community and get their hands dirty with data for the first time. Hopefully coming away from the event with an expanded understanding of the data available and the methods available to use it.

Which makes GovHack part of a cycle that encourages the continual release of new data, and its increasing use.

GovHack photos by Gavin Tapp:

This year, Acquia again provided hosting for the Drupal 8 hackerspace used by teams to access essential information about the competition and submit their entries. The hackerspace ran on Drupal 8 + php7.1. This configuration was more than adequate to cope with up to two-hundred concurrent authenticated users rushing to add their project info in a brief period of time on Sunday evening - while also able to support general web traffic from a much larger number of visitors.

GovHack photos by Gavin Tapp:

This is the second year that Acquia has provided this support - and we are pleased to report that the hosting environment coped very well with some periods of high demand. Next year we hope to provide more help toward the design and structure of the hackerspace to improve the experience.

Acquia is committed to supporting the public sector innovation community. We love that each project created over the GovHack weekend is released under an open source or creative commons license. Open source is at the heart of the work we do at Acquia and we love seeing its wider adoption within government.

Judging of all the projects is currently underway, with representatives from sponsors and government agencies taking a close look at what has been produced. The main category winners will be announced at the very fancy Red Carpet Awards to be held in Brisbane on October 14. Tune in to the live video stream available at if you are keen to see the winners.