Washington D.C. Hosts Global Random Hacks of Kindness Hackathon

Forty-Eight Hours of RHoK Hacking to Begin on June 4

Jun 02, 2010, 19:50 ET from SecondMuse

WASHINGTON, June 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Google, Microsoft, NASA, the World Bank and Yahoo! are unlikely partners in a progressive initiative called Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) with the mission to mobilize a global community of technologists to solve real-world problems through technology.  RHoK collaborates with subject matter experts to define problems and then sets loose the best and brightest hackers to solve them over the course of a single weekend.  RHoK's second Hackathon will be international in scope and take place the weekend of June 4 through 6 in Washington D.C. with simultaneous events in Nairobi, Sydney, Jakarta and Sao Paolo.  The U.S. event will begin with a reception at the State Department, keynoted by Vint Cerf, often referred to as the "Father of the Internet," and will be followed by 48 hours of competitive hacking at Microsoft's Washington D.C. offices, concluding with an awards ceremony showcasing the winning hacks in the Microsoft Atrium.  

Collaborating with subject matter experts in disaster response and humanitarian relief, RHoK will engage volunteer software engineers from around the world in a marathon weekend event of competitive coding to develop software solutions to problems posed by subject matter experts.  RHoK's first Hackathon was held in November 2009 in Mountain View, California, and resulted in software solutions that were later implemented in Haiti and Chile following the devastating earthquakes there in early 2010.  

"We are really trying to use technology to make the world a better place," said Todd Khozein from SecondMuse, RHoK's operational lead.  "The event gives hackers the opportunity to use their skills for a noble cause with the guidance of experts who understand the real world challenges.  Even after our first Hackathon last November, we saw incredible creativity in solving a struggle identified by the director of FEMA.  He said that there was a need to communicate effectively through data channels to let friends and family know that you're OK when disaster strikes.  Within the span of the weekend there were several applications prototyped.  The winning one was then developed further, adopted by the World Bank, and implemented in the field just a couple months later in Haiti.  I think we're still learning a lot about how to proceed effectively, and we certainly have a ways to go, but we've clearly had proof of concept and the support from the hacking community has been incredible."

"NASA is happy to support Random Hacks of Kindness to promote greater usage of NASA's open data and forge unique partnerships with industry and the World Bank to create a globally conscious community of technologists to solve some of Earth's greatest challenges," said Chris C. Kemp, NASA's Chief Technology Officer for IT. "This collaboration supports NASA's Open Government Plan by promoting open data and open source while forging partnerships to address global needs."

"Having supported the Random Hacks of Kindness initiative from the start, for me it is a natural development to see this effort go global," said Pamela Cox, World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean. "We express our ongoing support to the new global community of hackers who volunteer their time to solve disaster risk management problems in real time, as was the case recently in Haiti and Chile, proving how technology and development go hand in hand."

"Google is excited to sponsor an event that brings coders together to collaborate and produce important solutions for disaster relief," said Jeff Martin, from the Google Crisis Response team.  

"We look forward to June 4 to see what the hacker community can do for good again," said Khozein.  "These participants are very talented and their critical contributions to help solve the world's problems are long overdue."

Random Hacks of Kindness is a non-profit initiative dedicated to mobilizing a global community of technologists to solve real-world problems through technology.  www.rhok.org.

SOURCE SecondMuse