In 2014, a group of 15 like-minded individuals decided to put in a team (the Nature Ninjas) to compete in the GovHACK SA competition. The challenge of the competition was to come up with a use for previously unseen open data that had been provided by state and commonwealth government departments, local councils, media agencies and universities.

The team accessed data from the State Flora Catalogue and mashed it up with Waite Arboretum Spatial Data and added lookups to the Atlas of Living Australia to develop a prototype application titled ‘What grows here?’. This mobile application can be used to identify flora that is indigenous to any particular geographical location using the GPS function on smart phones. Furthermore, the list of native plants that is displayed can be filtered and selected for certain features such as height, colour and purpose, which makes the application equally useful to either the home gardener or land managers.

The collective skills, commitment and passions of the team were rewarded by winning two state awards and one national award in the following categories: Unleashed Premier’s Award ($30,000); Building on Science, Research &Environmental Data ($2,500); and the People’s Choice Award ($2000).

This prize money was used to establish the Growing Data Foundation (incorporated in January 2015), to promote the development of open projects and systems that support the development of sustainable solutions to environmental, economic and social problems. The Growing Data Foundation is one of the very few, if not the only, project that was initiated during the GovHACK SA in 2014 that is still in existence and continuing to do great work.

For example, in 2016 the Growing Data Foundation founded The Things Network (TTN) Adelaide and currently facilitates the Adelaide OpenData and IoT Meetup that has over 900 subscribers.

In 2019, the Growing Data Foundation was awarded the sole rights to conduct The Things Network Asia Pacific On Tour Conference that was attended by over 150 people and very well-received by a diverse range of stakeholders. In lieu of a large physical conference due to COVID-19, the Growing Data Foundation is planning a range of smaller educational activities over the next 12 months featuring industry experts from across the globe in five key streams – Technical, Environmental, AgTech, Education and Smart Cities.

In June 2020, the Growing Data Foundation was invited by the District Council of Loxton Waikerie located in the Riverland region of South Australian to lead a Riverland Schools IoT Project. The aim of this project is to get staff and students in the four Riverland high schools involved in curriculum-based activities that use open, real-time data collected via sensors and LoRaWAN infrastructure recently installed across the Riverland to solve social, economic or environmental problems.

From Friday 14 – Sunday 16, 2020 members of the Growing Data Foundation will be joined by a team of other interested individuals to compete in the GovHack Competition which will be held simultaneously across Australia and New Zealand. During the 46-hour period the team will be required to create concepts, mashups and models with open government data, to examine the challenges facing government and communities in new and innovative ways.

Once again the Growing Data Foundation has an exciting and innovative project idea that it aims to bring to fruition over the weekend. Watch this space to find out what the Growing Data Foundation ‘Water Warriors’ have been able to achieve in this latest Govhack Competition!