Though "hackers" and "World Bank" in the same sentence might look like odd bedfellows, the term "hack" originally indicated a clever solution to a technical problem. Hackathons are becoming an increasingly popular way for organizations with a public remit to crowdsource the solution to technical problems that they might not be equipped to solve internally. My favourite example is the UK’s National Hack the Government Day: in 8 hours, 3 developers created "a much better website that cost the government over £5m to build, and added accessibility and mobile support" - and much more.
Not to be left behind, The World Bank, together with powerhouses Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, and Nasa will sponsor the Random Hacks of Kindness hackathon on November 12-14. The event will gather 150 top volunteer programmers from Silicon Valley and around the globe. For 2-3 days they will develop software solutions to the various challenges of natural disaster response. Technologists and disaster relief workers will jointly develop technologies that enable disaster victims to help themselves and help first responders/aid workers help victims--to reduce loss of life and to speed recovery. A long time dream of mine come true – kudos to the colleagues who made this happen!
A preparatory workshop for the hackathon is going to take place at the World Bank later this week. If you are interested in taking part (to help refine the challenges the event is meant to solve), or have suggestions for developers who might be interested in getting involved, follow this link. Also, if you are interested in becoming part of a permanent community of practitioners and receiving notifications about follow-up events, you can contact Stuart Gill (firstname.lastname@example.org).