A team from the West Australian has won Australia’s first Editors Lab hackathon after two days of intense competition at Macleay College Sydney.
Teams were asked to devise practical apps that use advanced computer technology to locate and interpret data, using innovative display and presentation software to deliver data-driven news to consumers.
West Australian team members Ben Martin, Joe Hardy and Sophia Lewis won an all-expenses paid trip to Vienna in June to compete against the world’s best media innovators in the final of the Global Editors Network hackathon at GEN’s 2016 summit.
Their app, BEAT, generates a real-time visualisation of breaking news events that helps editors assess the gravity and character of the events, and the availability of news teams to cover them.
In their four-minute pitch, summarising two day’s work, they said: “BEAT puts live information from the police despatch system in an easy-to-understand, usable, graphical interface… MatCAD, the Western Australian police computer aided despatch system, is made available to newsrooms … [but] it’s hard to read and there’s too much data. Beat polls MatCAD for new data … categorises each event by urgency, seriousness and newsworthiness [displayed on a screen to be] accessible to anyone in the newsroom at a glance. Beat can identify trends by plotting incidents by type, area and time.”
The app was so well advanced the team is confident it can be deployed by their newsroom on Monday. It was also the runaway winner of the People’s Choice award voted by peers and observers.
The hackathon attracted teams from around Australia, including representatives of News Corp, Fairfax Media, SBS, the ABC and The Guardian, and leading journalism schools including Macleay College, UTS, The University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne.
Judge Jonathan Richards of Google Creative Lab said the judges were looking for an idea that was well designed, innovative and broadly viable. They were impressed with the high standard from all teams, but he made special mention of the Macleay team – Newsroom editor Jake Nelson, 2015 graduate and AAP staffer Andrew Leeson and data journalism lecturer Enrico Gaoni – for the quality of its ideas and invited all teams to apply for seed money to further develop their concepts. The runners up were the teams from The Guardian and The Age.
The event was delivered by The Walkley Foundation and the Global Editors Network (GEN), sponsored and supported by tech groups Google and Tableau Public and hosted by Macleay College. – The Newsroom Team