Suburban Trends

Published Feb-03-10

A web-based application created through an open innovation mashup competition that allows users to graphically compare and contrast Australian suburbs.

The Australian Government, Australia

The Story:

Suburban Trends One of the most successful and powerful trends in open innovation is the concept of mashups – where a new innovative web-based service or application is created from the combination of the data or functionality of two or more sources.

Open Innovation Mashups

There are an ever increasing number of companies and government organizations around the world developing platforms to profit from this kind of open innovation. Mashups offer are a large base of ideas for new products, concepts, and technologies and swifter implementation to market.

Mashup Australia was an open innovation contest held by the Australian government to demonstrate how open access public sector information, for example something as simple as the location of government services or census data could be used to deliver benefits to the research, commercial, and community sectors.

Global Competition

The competition was open for one month in 2009 to members of the public from all over the world, although to be eligible for prizes entrants had to be either Australian residents or Australian citizens. To get the creative juices flowing the government released 59 datasets from more than 15 government bodies.

"This contest allows government to tap into the wealth of ideas and experience in Australia’s online community," said Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner.

"At the same time it provides an opportunity for innovators to showcase their ideas and potentially be rewarded for their efforts."

Mashup Australia was inspired by similar competitions in other countries, particularly Apps for America which produced such democracy tools as Filibusted that tracks the frequency with which senators try to block and stall legislation through seemingly endless debates and parliamentary procedures.

Overall 82 submissions were received covering a range of new and innovative applications from government data.

Contest Winners

There were two joint contest winners who won the Excellence in Mashing Prize. ‘Suburban Trends’ was created by Alejandro Metke and Michael Henderson. The application is a combination of different types of crime and census data that compares and contrasts Australian suburbs by a host of economic, education, safety and socio-economic indicators. What impressed the judges so much was the use of graphical indicators so that users can compare each suburb visually.

‘Know Where You Live’ created by Eric Auld, David Lewis, and Simon Wright, is a prototype of a mashup of a range of open access government data. It is based on postcodes, Google satellite maps, and historical photographs. Users just type in their postcode and a wealth of easy-to-read information comes up about their locale.

Both teams were awarded checks of AUD $10,000 for their innovations.

The open innovation mashup competition was viewed as a great success and is likely to be repeated. Dr Nicholas Gruen, who is chairman of the government taskforce that organized the mashup, commented that the number and quality of proposals had been fabulous and that it showed that “enthusiasm is the engine of reform”.

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