Over the weekend of 14-15 June 2014, Project Nuevo Mundo was proud to participate as a “problem sponsor” in the HackSummit – a hackathon to support social enterprises and non-profits, hosted by DevNetwork.
A hackathon is a new type event, generally taking place over a few days, in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming, organically forming teams and developing a prototype of a project to completion. The Hacksummit is special because it is meant to help non-profits and social enterprises solve real problems.
The event was hosted at Change.org HQ in San Francisco, an appropriate venue to host a hackathon targeted at social change. The organizers, DevNetwork, are a conference production company that runs tech conferences for developers. They are prototyping a new type of hackathon, and applying their learning experience over the weekend towards a larger endeavor next February dubbed AccelerateSF. This will also serve as a “social network” for hackers to discuss projects with each other. The HackSummit was sponsored by Omidyar, a social impact investment firm, and Autodesk, a 3D modeling and design software firm.
The “problem sponsors” were non-profit and social enterprise organizations presenting social impact problems for the San Francisco Bay Area. Project Nuevo Mundo was a problem sponsor that proposed the idea of an creating an app to connect people to local resources in their area such as community gardens, makerspaces, hackerspaces, and various alternative education centers. Throughout the process, the developer that chose our project to work on was coming up with innovative ways to display information that hadn’t ever occurred to me. After 30 hours of almost round-the-clock hacking, the 19 teams presented their projects to the audience. The panel of judges consisted of representatives from some of the sponsoring organizations.
- My favorite project was Re-Volv, a crowd-financed revolving “solar seed” fund to finance solar energy installations on community centers, where they are most visible and likely to contagiously spread throughout a neighborhood.
- An Inconvenient App, came up with a “Choose your own adventure” game to sensitize people to climate change and environmental issues, and allow them to see how climate change will affect costs of living. Their premise was that data alone does not change peoples’ behavior. People empowered through stories create the change they want to see in the world.
- Re-Volv’s problem came up with an app to visualize the impact of donations to fund solar installations to help donors track the impact of their contributions through reduced carbon footprint and other metrics .
- The Socrates team proposed a platform to connect underprivileged youth to mentors.
- CoRiders proposed a ridesharing app for co-workers to save money and network with each other.
- Kiva’ s team tackled challenge to create a social recommendation engine to direct lenders towards projects they’d be interested in supporting, based on a lender’s travel habits and interests.
- WaterWatch provided a brilliant visual display of data on the current drought affecting California to help our public understand the situation.
- Housetaurant proposed turning your home into a “private restaurant” to raise funds for charities, exploiting a loophole in current law that allows charities to host fundraisers at private homes.
- Simple Group created an app to help you find local events based on how you’re feeling at the moment, your “instantaneous interests.”
- Local Search worked with Project Nuevo Mundo’s idea of connecting people to resource centers based on their queries and interests. They created an app that allows the user to ask a question, and receive valuable information that will help to solve their problem, whether it’s how to fix their bike, where to learn about gardening, or the closest hackerspace community. They took data from Instructibles to provide DIY manuals. They plan to make an event display as well to connect you to events nearby you related to you search, sourced from Meetup.com, Eventbrite, and Facebook events. Project Nuevo Mundo plans on sharing this custom-built application with you all!
- GrowSF won the best overall app, with promising prospects to become a very useful service to the citizens of San Francisco. They proposed a platform to connect you to resources and people in sustainable urban agriculture. In the proposed platform were curated resources for growing food, ways to give back to the community, and locations to purchase locally grown food.
A common thread was the fact that so much data is available to us today, but it’s either not easily accessible. There is so much irrelevant data to sift through to get to what is important, and data is often not presented visually in a way that is easy to understand. Another common theme was the issue of engaging and attracting users.
The HackSummit was a noble convergence of developers, non-profits, and corporations donating time and money towards creating an organic space where solutions to real problems could emerge. Hats off to Geoff Domoracki and Ric Victores of Developer’s Network, and all others who contributed to making the HackSummit a success.