This past weekend, the first ever Hacking for Humanity event jointly organized by Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Google happened at the Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, CA. Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) is an initiative to bring together experts and software engineers to identify key challenges and develop solutions on various humanitarian and crisis response projects.
The idea for RHoK was born at CrisisCamp June 12th-14th 2009 in Washington, DC where an industry panel with representatives from Yahoo!, Google, and Microsoft recognized that certain matters, such as crisis response, superseded competitive concerns. During CrisisCamp, one big issue that was identified was the finite resources available, even within large corporations and government agencies. By building a development community focused on disaster response, hopefully we can all do our part to save lives. Over the past six months following CrisisCamp – in partnership with World Bank, NASA, and SecondMuse – the group has forged ahead to make this Hack Day a reality.
The first RHoK event started last Thursday with a mixer event. On Friday, the day was kicked off with a keynote from Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator. Craig filled the crowd with excitement and motivation, while humoring us with stories like the telling of his "Waffle House" postulate. Following Craig's keynote, the day continued with lightening talks, five minute rapid presentations on existing technologies and solutions, and continued in the afternoon with BarCamp style hour long breakout sessions.
During the night and following morning, hackers developed technology solutions to solve real-world problems. We had over a dozen hackers working late into the night and a handful who stayed overnight. Saturday afternoon, 11 hacks were presented. They ranged from people finder portals, to arial maps related hacks, to disaster communication tools. The winners were:
FEMA Prize - Break Glass
1st Prize - I'm OK
Runner Up - Tweak the Tweet
Honorable Mentions - Disaster Mesh and Blue Team
Overall the event was a great success and we hope to have additional events in 2010. Keep an eye out on the official RHoK website for news and more information. We want to extend a huge thanks to the other founding partners, Google, Microsoft, NASA, Worldbank, and SecondMuse. Without all of us working together, this event wouldn't have happened. Internally, Yahoo! Developer Network and Yahoo! For Good were instrumental in our efforts to make this happen. Last but definitely not least, all participants at the event deserve the biggest thanks. It's YOU! who really makes the difference!