Random Hacks of Kindness: software developers create and share code to tackle disaster relief

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ImageA bunch of software programmers get together, listen to a list of desired projects formulated by aid, emergency, and development experts that would help tackle issues related to disaster relief, work for two days and the result is eleven applications that will allow users to easily report their status in the event of a disaster, locate family, provide data needed by emergency responders, or that will automatically process aerial images taken by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), among others.

Presentation of the microUAV image registration system (photo courtesy of Todd Huffman under a Creative Commons license).

This is what happened at the first "Random Hacks of Kindness" event in San Francisco, a hackathon that served as the basis of a global community of developers and subject matter experts that will work on development and reconstruction issues. The idea originated at a Crisis Camp barcamp held at the World Bank in Washington DC last May, when representatives from Google, Microsoft and Yahoo agreed that some matters supersede competitive concerns and decided to cooperate and mobilize developer communities to create software that is openly shared with the international community to have a real impact on the field. The Bank led the partnership and it now includes NASA and SecondMuse as well.

Take a look at the list of winning hacks (= clever solution to a technical problem), which will continue to be developed at upcoming events --the next Random Hacks of Kindness event will take place in the U.S. East Coast and will focus on disaster risk management issues at large. Until then, check out the official site and its online community.


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