Success Stories – Rita Arrigo’s GovHack Story

Rita Arrigo’s team “AuZero” were prize winners in the 2022 GovHack in Victoria.
Rita Arrigo's team "AuZero" were prize winners in the 2022 GovHack in Victoria.
Rita Arrigo’s team “AuZero” were prize winners in the 2022 GovHack in Victoria.

Rita Arrigo’s team “AuZero” were prize winners in the 2022 GovHack in Victoria. They wanted to generate clean energy by using public spaces to host solar panels, kinetic paving, wind turbines and more.

The problem

Wanted to leverage public spaces to generate clean energy solutions like solar panels, kinetic bikes, kinetic paving blocks, wind turbines. All these sources will generate clean energy which can be used to charge EVs, light up public spaces and power public utilities.

Also by hydrophonic framing, we can sequestrate Co2 emissions.

Over a period over 25 years we can save 6.1million ton CO2 using these practices.

The solution

The team used AI to generate understanding of all the different public spaces that exist in Australia to put together a portfolio of energy generating biophylic products that would reduce the carbon footprint in those areas. 

(Biophylic design is an approach to design that uses the natural environment in building). 

An example used by the team was a bus stop that is covered in plants. The bus stop would do soil sequestation while keeping users cool, rather than being a tin shed as we often see today.

Data was pulled in from the various sources linked by GovHack and imported in to a DataBricks cloud data warehouse resulting in a prediction model to estimate the business case of different options.

The team

The team met at GovHack on the Friday night. “It was really exciting as we just connected and got on really well”. Rita was there with her husband who is a web developer who wanted to find out more about databases. Rita wanted to make connections with people from Government. They sat next to others who joined the team. They talked about what they were interested in and the combination was good.

Rita brought sales skills, Aman was good with data manipulation. Aman’s wife was brought in to help with the video but it turned out she was a mobile developer and was able to build an app. 

“It became a family affair”.

“The venue was beautiful, we were very comfortable, it made it feel like fun rather than work”.


Friday night was finding the team and listening to presentations on the data and challenges. 

Saturday started early, at about 10am, it was a rainy day – really boring – a perfect day for hacking!

It was a lovely atmosphere, people had their kids there. Saturday was devoted to data transformation.

On Sunday the app was created and the video was produced. 

The approach to the video was to do screen recordings. Rita is very good at telling stories.

Lessons from GovHack

Networking at a hackathon is a great opportunity combined with “getting your hands dirty” by being able to think about a project in a way that’s real. Rita had not been able to do her own machine learning project leading to predictions so found it great to learn to talk to a data scientist about a problem.

Advice for first timers

“Bring your A game, your open mind, a computer that’s not locked down, and get ready to meet new people and think about things in a different way”.

National AI Centre at CSIRO

Rita now works at the National AI centre which is hosted at CSIRO. It is there to help “uplift” AI capability in Australia by educating the community, building a directory of AI companies, and promoting responsible AI practice.

AI is much more transformative than digital transformation and it does need executives to be involved. “We could be in a Napster moment, with ChatGPT”.

GovHack teaches us how to tell a story about what a technology does. “GovHack is a fantastic opportunity, that you don’t get at work, to think outside the box, work with new people, and solve challenges that you’re passionate about”.

Story by Peter Marks

Thank you Rita Arrigo for participating in our Success Stories feature!