Meet the Locals: Henare Degan working to make Australia more open
Henare Degan, OpenAustralia
1. Describe yourself (work, attitude, world view & suburb you live in)
I've worked in the IT industry for over a decade and during that time I've worked for a diverse range of organisations from start-up companies to small business and large corporations. I'm now working on my own Internet startup called Bleeply and I work on this from my home office in Newtown in the inner west of Sydney.
2. What is Planning Alerts / OpenAustralia and why are they important?
The OpenAustralia foundation is Australia's open government, open data and civic hacking charity. This basically means we create and run digital projects in the public interest; we try to create projects that take boring government data and make it relevant and useful for everyday Australians.
PlanningAlerts is a great example of this - we gather development applications from council websites and email them to you. This means you can find out when that beautiful old building down the road is about to be knocked down or if there's a large block of apartments about to go up by your house. We also provide a super-simple way to comment on planning applications so that you can have a say about what's happening in your community.
4. How can locals get Planning Alerts? Are Councils embracing Planning Alerts? Which Sydney Councils are currently covered for Planning Alerts?
Simply visit www.planningalerts.org.au, enter your street address and your email address and you'll start getting PlanningAlerts directly to your inbox.
Councils have been surprisingly positive about PlanningAlerts, a lot of councils even use PlanningAlerts to embed a map of planning applications on their own website.
We cover most of Sydney at the moment and we're adding more councils all the time. You can check to see if your council is covered on our website (http://www.planningalerts.org.au/authori...) or just sign up and you'll start getting alerts as soon as we cover your local council.
5. Can other people get involved in Planning Alerts / Open Australia? (explain what skills you need & how they can get involved, get in contact etc)
All of the OpenAustralia Foundation's projects are open source and anyone can get involved. If you've got programming experience then it's really easy to make a difference but even if you're not a programmer we're always looking for keen volunteers, just email us email@example.com
6. What kind project would you like to see Open Australia do next?
There are lots and lots of projects we'd love to do if we had the resources but we're 100% volunteer powered and rely on donations. One of the most obvious projects would be bringing FixMyStreet to Australia, which would allow anyone to report and see issues in their local area and get them fixed, e.g. broken pavements or street lights.
7. What local issues are you passionate about?
I live very close to St Peters which has been the site of a number of protests about coal seam gas exploration and I'm glad that those people are fighting on behalf of our community. However I try to make a difference with things I've got more experience with so I publicise new PlanningAlerts that are interesting to our local community.
8. What are your favourite haunts? Please support local business by sharing your fav cafes, shops and restaurants etc.
I guess I've got to give a shout out to my local pub - the Sydney Park Hotel :) My favourite cafe is South End Cafe, good coffee and breakfasts. My favourite restaurant is New in Town which is a Polish restaurant, definitely worth checking out.