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  • Writer's pictureMonika Lionaite

History of empowering hackers for humanitarian impact

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

An overview of Openhack #10 held in Stockholm, Sweden - Coding for Humanity hackathon - by the project manager Monika Lionaite:

On November 1-3 2019 Openhack - Coding for Humanity community celebrated its 10th hackathon with 101 hackers joining the weekend marathon in Stockholm at the social innovation hub Norrsken House. This time it included solving real-life global challenges provided by Engineers Without Borders, UNHCR (United Nations Agency for Refugees), The Red Cross, Naturvårdsverket (The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency), Arbetsförmedlingen (The Swedish Public Employment Service) and SIDA (Swedish International Cooperation Development Agency) together for sustainable development. All cases were based on real-life challenges which had to be solved in order to reach sustainable development goals. Topics that were solved include environmental impact, corruption, human rights violation, crisis management, fake news and more.

This hackathon is 10th Openhack hackathon and commemorates a milestone in creating social impact hackathons that are based on open data and have global impact by the solutions created and further implemented.

We decided to celebrate it with openness, inclusion, and diversity. In fact, starting off with a diverse project team and volunteers, and taking a look at the hackers,

the overall hackathon targeted gender balance with 43% females, and included 60% IT professionals and 40% other experts, including a retired person joining as a hacker as well which reflect the openness for all age groups to join and see this as an opportunity to get connected for a good cause and encouraging lifelong learning. In total, there were 32 countries represented, stretching outside Europe to Asia and the Americas.

Out of the 18 teams formed, three winner teams in different categories were announced based on the selection criterias for each category. The Jury consisted of four experts that shown their engagement and commitment for contributing with their insights. We were grateful to have the program manager at the Swedish Innovation Agency Vinnova Adrian Solitander, Ericsson Group Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility Alejandra Levinas Asplund, our partner Sandvik Simon Whelan and Openhack chairman Jan Byfors.

The People's Choice Award was given to team 'Alexa' that

solved the challenge of crisis management for The Red Cross. According to the team leader Liu Minghao “The challenge we took on was by the Swedish Red Cross, to create a solution allowing the officers to be proactive in terms of crisis response. The solution we came up with consist of an application that utilized data scraping tools to pick up key words in news and social media outlets and also allow the live reporting of cases by the public and volunteers.”. This solution was voted by everybody in the room as Openhack community’s favorite. Check out their solution: (demo)

The Best Technical Solution Award went to Mjukisarna (the Red Cross), and their team leader Kim Säther describes it, they have created a base for an automated system for social media monitoring and reports managing. Server sides collect interesting mentions in the media, sends them to volunteers, who are able to check information and report incidents. All reports are gathered in the admin center, where next steps could be organized.

Finally, the Changemaker Award was given out for the first time ever in Openhack history for a truly impactful solution to the team V16 with team leader Marta Trusohamn. V16 came up with a solution which encountered the corruption case provided by SIDA while creating a visual tool to identify the risk levels in the foreign investments done by SIDA in order to allocate the funds better - for more social impact. The links to their solution can be found here: (github)

All winning teams were invited to elaborate their proposals and present these in the case provider’s offices to start implementing these solutions.

Our team’s dedicated efforts were focused on making sure that this hackathon will be remembered by the engaging global challenges that provide endless opportunities to give it back to the society for the greater good. In fact, the main focus of this hackathon was on inclusion, diversity and equality. We succeeded to attract and maintain very engaged hackers throughout the weekend, creating solutions to trigger and solve the global challenges by using a multidisciplinary approach, collaboration and technology in order to achieve it. Such type of hackathons is a great example of how innovation can be created by bringing together the local community for collaboration.

A special thanks to our partners, sponsors, and supporters Sandvik, Xylem, Student Node and Vinnova. We are grateful for all our community friends, coaches and volunteers that joined Openhack to make this hackathon the best experience it can be - together we make social impact scale up from local to global!

Project Team Openhack-C4H #10 2019, Stockholm, Sweden.

This hackathon was a part of a pilot study for research done by Monika Lionaite at Stockholm University on the research topic of using hackathons for creation of UNESCO learning cities and development of digital competence, digital literacy and ICT skills. More details about the research:

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