New Space and Tech

Random Hacks of Kindness Announces Its Third Global Hackathon

By Keith Cowing
April 8, 2013
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On December 4 and 5, in over twenty locations around the world, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, NASA and The World Bank will host the third Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK), their progressive initiative that brings together volunteer software developers and experts in disaster risk management for a weekend-long “hackathon” to create software solutions that can help mitigate or respond to disasters around the world and help save lives.
This RHoK will see events being hosted in locations including Atlanta, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Seattle, in the United States and internationally in Toronto, Canada; Aarhus, Denmark; Berlin, Germany; Bangalore, India; Birmingham, UK; Jakarta, Indonesia; Nairobi, Kenya; Lusaka, Zambia; Mexico City, Mexico; Bogota, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Singapore; Tel Aviv, Israel and Sao Paolo, Brazil.

“Microsoft is honored to support this global community of developers committed to making a difference,” said Curt Kolcun, Vice President, Microsoft U.S. Public Sector. “While Microsoft has a tenured global crisis management team focused on accelerating the impact technology can have, it’s fantastic to see a complimentary effort like Random Hacks of Kindness performing this kind of sustainable development work while at the same time connecting developer communities with disaster risk experts around the world.”

“Random Hacks of Kindness goes to the heart of what we believe at Google; that the creative and cooperative use of technology can help make the world a better place and that collective intelligence is strength,” said Vint Cerf, Google Chief Internet Evangelist and popularly known as the “Father of the Internet.”

The first RHoK event was held in Mountain View, California in November 2009 and resulted in applications that were later used on the ground during the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. The second RHoK hackathon was held simultaneously in six countries around the world in June 2010 and one of the winning applications from the Washington D.C. event – a tool that allows engineers to easily visualize landslide risk to help guide urban and rural development and building planning – is already being piloted by the World Bank in the Caribbean.

“We’re trying to use technology to make the world a better place,” said Todd Khozein from SecondMuse, RHoK’s operational lead. “The event gives hackers the opportunity to use their skills for a noble cause with the guidance of experts who understand the real world challenges.”

“Yahoo! is proud to be a part of the Random Hack of Kindness effort and draw upon our history and knowledge in fostering collaboration and technological innovation among developers,” said Raymie Stata Chief Technology Officer, Yahoo!. “We are looking forward to seeing how technology can give people and organizations the tools to improve disaster relief efforts and help save lives.” “NASA is proud to be supporting Random Hacks of Kindness and promote wider usage of our open data to solve the world’s greatest challenges,” said NASA CIO Linda Cureton.

“We are glad to support the growth of this dedicated community of volunteers using their skills to tackle disaster risk management challenges,” said Inger Andersen, World Bank Vice President of Sustainable Development. “That is why we are working closely with the hackers so they continue to develop practical applications such as the landslide risk reduction tool ‘Chasm’, one of the winners of the last event. We’re excited to see how this volunteer community evolves and what software solutions it will come up with in the future.”

For more details, see the Random Hacks of Kindness website at

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.