If you’re like me, the first few words that entered your mind aren’t publishable on such a mild-mannered blog, and the subsequent words mostly started with evil.
According to the slick press release I received, Random Hacks of Kindness is a global community of innovation focused on developing practical open source solutions to disaster risk management and climate change adaptation challenges. The initiative began as a collaboration between all the organizations listed above, aimed at solving humanitarian issues through technology (and no-doubt with a secondary aim of looking less evil).
As part of hacking competition events across the world, coders from various organizations, industries and backgrounds work directly with subject matter experts from the emergency management sector to find solutions to ‘problem areas’ in disaster management technology.
When I did a bit of research into Random Hacks of Kindness I quickly realized that some of the solutions that have come from past hack-a-thon events have been good. Seriously good.
Last year, Random Hacks of Kindness was responsible for the refinement of the Google PersonFinder app that ended up being used extensively in both the Japan and New Zealand earthquakes, and was also behind the development of FoodMovr – a geo-location app that connects businesses that have excess food with organizations that help feed the needy.
As part of the Random Hacks of Kindness Melbourne event that I was lucky enough to attend, coders worked on everything from an app that allows users to create customized disaster plans, through to the development a unified platform for aggregating public alerts from all emergency services in Australia.
This event not only gave the Melbourne developer community a chance to give back and work on rewarding projects, it also provided much-needed innovation for the Australian disaster management sector, which is notoriously behind the eight ball when it comes to technological innovation.
In a year when stories of hackers stealing credit card numbers and crashing websites are abundant, it was pretty amazing to see some of Melbourne’s best IT minds working together on projects that directly benefit the community in some incredible ways.
And it made me hate Google a little bit less. Just a little bit though.