Government hacking prize offered

2012-08-02 14:04

Cape Town - The Open Data and Democracy Initiative is offering web gurus R25 000 in prizes to write software that will make government officials more accountable.

The Code4Democracy event kicks off in Cape Town on Friday and runs for the weekend.

"Participants will get access to previously difficult to find databases, including the national and Cape Town budgets, salary scales for politicians, health data, and contact information for constituency representatives to use as 'feedstock' for their hackathon ideas," organiser Justin Arenstein said.

The event is open to developers, designers, activists and journalists and the idea is to create a more transparent government by empowering ordinary citizens with web tools.

This programme mirrors the Ushahidi crowd-sourcing platform in Kenya that created to map the reported incidents of violence happening during the post-election crisis in the country.

Founder Eric Hersman said that crowd-sourcing platforms had the ability to hold governments accountable.

"As the web expands with these tools, states start losing power and depending on the country you're in, when the operator in the pocket of the government, you in trouble," he told News24.

Participants for the Code4Democracy event can register on the website and attendees are able to submit or view data prior to the occasion.

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  • philani.goba - 2012-08-02 14:47

    A very good initiative..they gonna try and throw everything at it..and pass bills t*hs..just wait and see

  • Tony Lapson - 2012-08-02 14:48

    I think it's a good idea, however I can't help but think that this cash prize is just too small. I mean, is it a way for them to avoid paying R1000000 for a proper company to do the same thing? It is a hell of a lot of work for one person to do with the motivation of such a small amount of money.

      teere.veve - 2012-08-02 15:02

      I think the general idea behind this is not to save money but to make the process and, possibly, implemented measures completely open to public scrutiny. If they had paid a "proper company" accusations of misinformation and hushing up could still be levelled by Joe Public. A savvy move in my opinion though I doubt that they'll implement anything major

      kevin.pitzer - 2012-08-02 15:05

      Agreed where billions are unaccounted in a fiscal year and peanuts are offered to those who can assist in slowing a raging current down.....They are not serious !

      stephen.reeves.908 - 2012-08-02 15:20

      I dont know how this is going, to work, there is little to know info in the report, but the headline says "Prize". Maybe its an invitation for applications? Bait lots of amazing programmers to come share ideas, and then get a bigger pay check after implementation.

      sgrussell87 - 2012-08-03 11:48

      Firstly the article is misleading. Secondly if you go to the website you will find that it is not too much work for one person. Thirdly as a South African we would encourage people to things for the good of the country, not just for monetary incentives. Fourthly, your reward amount of R1 000 000 is absolutely ridiculous if you look at what apps people are needing.

      Tony Lapson - 2012-08-03 14:53

      Sgrussel, I was saying that an operation like this would easily cost R1mil if they got professional programmers to do the work. My point was that R25000 is really nothing. If you think of the work that had to be done, you need to be a programmer, accountant, consultant to many officials... You would need a full crew. One person might be able to do the coding and programming, but this task extends way beyond that. I would say that you would need at least a 5 man crew. R25 000 split between 5 men = an awful lot of work which would take months, for a months low paying salary.

  • TheReasonableMan - 2012-08-02 14:48

    Gotta love this... hit them where it hurts :)

  • john.dorian.1042 - 2012-08-02 15:22

    What the hell did I just read??

  • Billy - 2012-08-02 15:28

    hmm nice idea. but... so you get an application designed for R25k. i notice you said governments, plural. are you going to sell this off again with a 1000% markup or something? the people that you need to have desinging this will not be interested for 25k in prizes. LOL! unless they leave themselves a backdoor to make it more "worthwhile" at a later stage.

  • khuliso.ratshinanga - 2012-08-02 15:58

    good initiative that will assist the public in understanding what really happened in the awarding of the cape town advertising tender and the rest of the country. i think they should also create a software to track those who use front companies

  • thatom3 - 2012-08-02 16:01

    I want R250k :D,

  • zweli.sikhakhane - 2012-08-02 16:03

    25k? they must be joking, i'll stick to developing sites

  • jeffrey.mnisi - 2012-08-02 16:11

    if the ANC cannot participate in a tender (due to incompetence), they make it cheap. they think developing a programme is like baking fat cakes or brew umtomboti

  • arthur.hugh - 2012-08-02 16:14

    25K?! Are you people insane? That's small change you cheap skates! Not a chance will any developer waste their time with this.

  • ngoako.mathekga - 2012-08-02 16:16

    Who will risk his career for 25k?

  • TshilidziPhuravhathu - 2012-08-02 16:34

    wow! 25k for a solution that will save Gov 25bn of tax payers cash, now thats attractive... (sic)

  • brand0nbradley - 2012-08-02 16:51

    Apart from the kudos I can't see R25,000 'in prizes' being much of a motivation. Most capable software programmers and web developers, in South Africa, charge at least half a gorilla per hour.

  • San.shaba - 2012-08-02 19:56

    Actually the R25K will be in prizes shared among the winners. Its not a winner takes all!

  • peter.vandermerwe3 - 2012-08-03 11:15

    Flippin Good...I should've studied IT.EISH

  • adi.eyal.5 - 2012-08-03 12:27

    The comments here are a little confusing. A group of civic-minded activists are trying to kick-start an initiative to promote greater access to information and government accountability in South Africa. A modest prize is offered as a small token reward participants for taking part. The real incentive in my opinion is taking part in a fun activity with a bunch of other really smart people and producing something that can produce a social good. You also get to work with tons of interesting datasets and perhaps improve your skills and your network. I can't see anything in the above that would attract a negative comment.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-08-14 14:13

      I don't see anything about it being a non-profit organisation, I don't see any reference to section 21, so there's nothing to say there's no private profiteering going on. Secondly, what's to say there isn't some deal already in place, and this is the best way to test for vulnerabilities without paying a bunch of people what they're worth?

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