Hacking for Humanity
08 June 2011
Goodwill was on display in Melbourne recently when subject matter experts from around the country, including those from Geoscience Australia, joined with computer programmers to create software solutions for humanitarian problems of national importance.
The collaboration titled Random Hacks of Kindness is a global initiative by Google, Microsoft, NASA, Yahoo and the World Bank and involves participants volunteering their time to solve problems using new technologies. Beginning in the USA in 2009, the initiative is now hosted in 26 cities around the world with nearly 2000 volunteers and 120 projects so far.
At the Australian meeting held in Melbourne on 3-5 June, Geoscience Australia experts put forward two problem statements addressing disaster risk reduction in communities. The first is the Quake Felt Report application (App), which will allow users of smartphones to submit earthquake felt reports via their mobile phone for use by emergency managers and seismologists. The second is the Disaster Safe App which is a smartphone or tablet application that provides users with information on how to prepare, respond and recover from natural disasters.
Computer programmers worked together over a two day period to develop these Apps and others like them before presenting their prototypes, and outlining the approach and technology used. Prizes were awarded under various categories with Quake Felt recognised for user design, and Disaster Safe (renamed to MyPlan) for its focus on preparedness.
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