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“Random Hacks of Kindness” Hartford Hackathon to be Held at Trinity


HARTFORD, CT, May 26, 2011 – HFOSS@Trinity College will be one of 15 global sites to sponsor a Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) gathering of volunteer software developers on June 4 and 5, an initiative designed to help find technology solutions for natural and man-made disaster response.

To register for the Hartford event, please visit: http://rhokhartford.eventbrite.com.

Category: announcement
Posted by: Trishan

Volunteer Software Developers to gather at 15 Global Sites​

​HARTFORD, CT, May 26, 2011 – Trinity College will be one of 15 global sites to sponsor a Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) gathering of volunteer software developers on June 4 and 5, an initiative designed to help find technology solutions for natural and man-made disaster response.

RHoK is a unique collaboration between Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, NASA and the World Bank, and is dedicated to using technology to make the world a better place by building a volunteer community of innovation. This is the fourth RHoK event the partners have hosted since 2009.

Participants come together for a weekend-long hackathon to create open source software solutions that can save lives and alleviate suffering. That’s accomplished by defining issues involving disaster risk management and climate change challenges and harnessing the brainpower of the global technology community to devise solutions that can have an immediate impact.

At Trinity, the initiative will be co-sponsored by the Humanitarian Free and Open Software (HFOSS) project led by Ralph Morelli, professor of computer science and principal investigator, and Trishan de Lanerolle, HFOSS project director. This marks the first time that Trinity or the city of Hartford will be a host site.

“We met with Microsoft Director Patrick Svenburg, ‘founding partner’ of RHoK, and he encouraged us to apply because [the collaborative] wants to get more academic involvement,” said de Lanerolle.

Other locations where simultaneous hackathons will take place include Philadelphia and Seattle in the United States, as well as Toronto, Canada; Aarhus, Denmark; Basel, Switzerland; Berlin, Germany; Bangalore, India, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Jakarta, Indonesia; Lusaka, Zambia; Melbourne, Australia; Nairobi, Kenya, Trento, Italy; and Santiago, Chile.

The goal is to bring together experts with field experience in the area of disaster risk management and the development of humanitarian responses. Participants will be given problem statements that replicate real-life scenarios and be asked to devise solutions to global challenges and crises. Prizes will be given for the best or most innovative “hacks of the day.”

It’s hoped that the gathering of domain specialists, programmers and technicians will come up with solutions to problems that they wouldn’t think about normally, and that will help spark new ideas, said de Lanerolle.

“A volunteer technical community like Random Hacks of Kindness is an incredible resource,” said Elizabeth Sabet from SecondMuse, RHok’s operational leader. “Through RHoK, development experts can draw on a wealth of creativity and brainpower in responding to real-world challenges, while hackers have a chance to put their considerable skills to work for the greater good.”

Prior RHoK hackathons have resulted in applications that are already having an impact. Applications from the first RHoK event were used during the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile in 2010. The winning solution at RHoK’s second event, a visual tool to assess landslide risk, was picked up by the World Bank and is being piloted in the Caribbean.

Right now, a group of firefighters in New Jersey are testing a prototype that Morelli and de Lanerolle helped develop during RHoK #2 in New York City, lead by John Reilly, from Google. Called “First Responder,” it’s a mobile app for Android phones. When there is a fire, a message is sent to a volunteer firefighter on his phone and it asks whether the firefighter is going to be able to get to the fire. The firefighter’s response is sent to a central location, whereupon the firefighter is told whether he should go to the firehouse or directly to the location of the fire.

Students from the HFOSS program at Trinity and St. John’s University will be working to refine the First Responder app this summer.

Trinity’s hackathon will take place in the Washington Room of Mather Hall on the Trinity campus, 300 Summit Street, Hartford. (8:30 a.m. Saturday, June 4, through to Sunday, June 5, 6 p.m.) Participants should have a laptop computer and power cables with them. The event is free.

For more information about RHoK, please visit: www.rhok.org or HFOSS project visit www.hfoss.org To register for the Hartford event, please visit: http://rhokhartford.eventbrite.com.