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Programmers Write Code for Social Good


October 9, 2013

Geeklist sponsored a 48-hour coding marathon known as #hack4good aimed at helping solve some of the world’s major problems and assisting key charities.

More than 2,000 developers in 21 cities from New York to New Delhi joined forces on the weekend of Oct. 4 to Oct. 6 in a 48-hour marathon coding event to support disaster relief, climate change, conservation, energy and learning, with leading charities such as UNICEF UK, Macmillan, Friends of the Earth, International Medical Corps and Amnesty International all involved.

Geeklist is a San Francisco-based social networking site for developers. Cities taking part include New York, London, Kathmandu, Minsk, Toronto, Tel Aviv and San Francisco. New Delhi looks set to be the most well-attended event with more than 200 registered hackers, while San Francisco with more than 160 and Paris with more than 150 are close behind.

The coders worked on problems, including disaster communication, learning issues, hunger, earthquake emergency solutions and other challenges facing major charities dealing with big issues. Indeed, #hack4good is a hack for social good.

Other areas of focus included b uilding tools for disaster and emergency response scenarios, like Person Finder and Crisis Map, built by the Crisis Response Team at Google, which is supporting #hack4good globally. Also, harnessing open data sets to focus public and non-profit efforts where they will have the greatest impact and effectiveness was a project.

In addition, the teams worked on developing innovative ways to connect supporters of causes with the people they are helping, and lowering the barrier to entry of technology for smaller nonprofits by making tools that are cheap and simple to use.

Other projects included building mobile-friendly and accessible tools to achieve universal access to service and tools offered by public and non-profit organizations, combining local and global problem-solving abilities to overcome environmental and conservation challenges, and creating new local and global networks for civic action.

“Every aspect of our lives is touched somehow by software engineering—whether it’s the media we read or the fruit we eat—and there’s huge potential to work globally to better manage the problems we face. Solutions have to solve actual problems, be they logistical, communicative or data-oriented,” said Reuben Katz, founder and CEO of Geeklist. “But we plan to unite NGOs [non-governmental organizations], charities and organizations that deal with humanitarian issues, disaster and environmental relief, and think there is real scope to effect change.”

Katz also said he wants to create a permanent community of experts who can be on hand during global disasters to help solve problems in real time. The company is launching The Geeklist Corps of Developers—creating a corps of tech leaders, trained and prepared to be the first technical responders to problems, disaster relief initiatives, humanitarian relief and wildlife relief solutions—all to be hosted in the to-be-announced Geeklist Git Repositories for free.

“Technology is our greatest problem-solving tool, capable of connecting us globally, putting information at the hands of everyone equally, and empowering individuals and communities to become self-resilient,” said Dan Cunningham, a user-experience designer and entrepreneur who organized the London event. Only about 30 percent of the global population is using the Internet right now. We're very excited about what can be done as the next 4.5 billion people come online.”

Katz added, “The vision is to unite the world’s software developers and tech industry leaders to find technical solutions to the world’s greatest social challenges. A place where software engineers and hackers, UI/UX designers, product developers and managers, founders, leaders, thinkers and civic -minded companies can be called upon at the drop of a hat to respond to emergencies both immediate and long-term, humanitarian and environmental. A way to hack a better world.”

Geeklist has developed a rewards policy, which allows only for equal rewards to participants and no monetary rewards.

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