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By Christiaan Adams, Google.org Crisis Response Team

Every year, coders and designers have been gathering to meet with experts in disaster response and international development, to spend a weekend designing tools and hacking code for the public good. This weekend, December 3-4, 2011, the next Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) hackathons will be taking place in cities around the world, with the simple idea that technology can and should be used for good.


Led by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Hewlett-Packard, NASA, and the World Bank, RHoK brings together hackers of all stripes to create open source software solutions that address issues of global interest and assist the organizations working on those issues. The fourth round of global RHoK events will be taking place in more than 30 cities on December 3-4, 2011, and you are invited and encouraged to attend.

Some of the interesting solutions that have been developed at past events include I’mOK, a mobile app that was used after the Haiti and Chile earthquakes, CHASM, a visualization tool for mapping landslide risk which is being used by the World Bank around the Caribbean, and Bushfire Connect, an online service for real-time information on fires in Australia. Hackers have also helped develop features for Person Finder, a tool created by the Google.org Crisis Response Team to help people find friends and loved ones after disasters.

We’re inviting all developers, designers, and anyone else who wants to help “hack for humanity” to attend one of the local events this weekend, December 3-4. You’ll have a chance to meet other open source developers, work with experts in disasters and international development, and contribute code to exciting projects that make a difference. Googlers will be attending several events, including those in San Francisco, New York, London, and others. We look forward to meeting you there!

And if you’re part of an organization that works in the fields of crisis response, climate change, or international development, you can submit a problem definition online, so that developers and volunteers can work on technology to address the challenge.

Visit http://www.rhok.org/ for more information and to sign up for your local event, and get set to put your hacking skills to good use.


Christiaan Adams is a developer advocate with the Google Earth Outreach Team and Google.org’s Crisis Response Team, where he helps nonprofits and disaster response organizations to use online mapping tools. When he’s not at work, he likes to go hiking or mountain biking, using Google Maps, of course.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor