My first RHoK Brisbane Hackathon

7th July 2015
by Larissa McCollin
Project Manager at G.James Glass & Aluminium, and first time hacker

Brisbane Winter 2015 was my first Random Hacks of Kindness event, as well as the first hackathon I've ever attended. I had been looking for a way of meeting inspired people that are keen to make a difference.  I had no idea how I was going to contribute as I don't have a strong IT background, but was told that there was plenty of ways to make a difference - and were they right.  I started by making a coffee-run list, and ended up helping present the results to be judged! Everyone played an active role adding to the greater success of the team.  It was a fantastic thing to be a part of, especially seeing how much we all had contributed to the realization of someone's idea. Definitely an uplifting experience I would recommend.

Here's some descriptions of the projects that were worked on for the weekend. 

Project: Gifts4Good
Changemaker: Alison

Alison is working on a fantastic addition to Australian online shopping culture with a fund raising aspect that doesn't impact on the shopper. A referral fee, that the shop pays to Gifts4Good for promotion, is split it between a good cause and further development of the service.  Its an idea based on concepts used overseas with a lot of success.  Alison's RHoK team didn't waste time splitting into two groups - the non tech group worked on checking for solutions that was in keeping with Australian standards and codes.  The technical team developed a method to remind people of the sites that are affiliated with Gifts4Good, and register them with minimal impact to the shopper.  

The results worked wonderfully - with only a few tweaks left to finalise, and some permissions to get before it can be used, it should be up and running in the coming months.  We hope to have an update available before the next Brisbane RHoK. When asked about her team, Alison mentioned how everyone came away excited that they all learned something new with their time together.  A great job was done by everyone.

Project: ThankBank
Changemaker: Sam

This team were the winners of the RHoK Brisbane award for their concept to provide a way of continually acknowledging and thanking people for their good deeds with an app that links to social networks.  The idea is being developed for people that donate blood, with the long term vision to expand to any organisation where ongoing praise is merited.  The team had clear goals and got stuck straight in - they did an amazing job graphic designing and developing a working ap based on Sam's vision.  Others in the team developed an accompanying website that explains the concept to users, and will be a great tool for promotion.  

Sam is still in the development phase of his goal, but the work done went much further than he anticipated and you couldn't wipe the smile off his face at the end of the day.  Before he can launch his new business, he needs to raise the finance to start, and is currently running a crowd funding campaign.  If you would like to help, any contribution would be much appreciated:

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Project: Crisis Mapping
Changemakers: Rowan and Stratos

Working with teams all over the world, Crisis Mappers provide a vital service by detailing navigation tools for the Red Cross and other aid organization helping with remote urgent situations and grief stricken areas globally.  The idea is to provide visual clues to maps helping team maneuver on the ground finding isolated areas and locate places to land helicopters or set up aide camps.  It is a well organised exercise, but still a time consuming process so the Brisbane RHoK team worked on making it better.  The tech team did an awesome job at this - improving software to increase speed and accuracy for crisis mapping everywhere.  Their efforts have been sent for approval and to be incorporated in the software in the U.S.  

The other half of the team contributed to the existing map data.  This team included a RHoK newby, who mapped areas of Tanzania, where Medicines' Sans Frontiers are working to stem the spread of cholera.  The results are tangible - to see a map at the end with roads, buildings and fields were there was seemingly nothing.  The term for mappers is HOT O.S.M. which stands for Humanitarian Open Street Map team, but the Brisbane RHoK team changed it to HOTOSM, pronounced hot-awesome.  Anyone is invited to join the HOTOSM team and assist crisis mappers at RHoK's everywhere.

Project: Concierge
Changemaker: John

Team Concierge looked at solutions for people needing health and medical support services in remote areas, in particular palliative care.  The needs of Australians requiring palliative care, especially in remote areas, provided a unique situation to develop an open source geotagging search tool that any medical profession can adopt and specialize to their requirements. The technical team used databases and tagged them to respond to related searches. Then geotagging linked the info to maps used as the interface to locate services quickly.  

The other half of the team developed a user friendly guidance system that helps people navigate quickly, even in times of stress and high emotion.  The result was a time line with flowing dialogues to help the user through the information finding process.  The open source website works, but there is a bit of information to be added before it is ready for Palliative Care Queensland to assist its patients. The aim is that this concept can be adopted and used by all Australia's states.  The quote of the day that brought smiles of relief, "Thats ahhhh, not terrible!"