Thursday, November 1, 2012

#NYTechResponds Day 3 Wrap-Up: Hackthon, New Sites/Apps

Another productive day. Here are some updates.

We have received a number of e-mails, tweets, etc. expressing enthusiasm for a hackathon. 48 hours ago we targeted a Saturday event; yesterday we discussed a date in the middle of next week. As we've been thinking today about the hackathon timing and location, a number of concerns have come up about doing a hackathon even a week out from today. These concerns can be summarized as:
  • Planning efforts for a hackathon may take away from time and cycles that should be spent on direct action and immediate aid
  • Primary aid (food, shelter, basic supplies, first aid, essential connectivity) is still the more pressing need right now over technology; significant portions of the population will still be struggling for the basics come next week
  • Transportation may still be a problem next week
  • Current bootstrapped processes such as those being employed by groups like Hurricane Hackers are producing concerte results -- code is shipping (e.g.,
  • We're still not clear on what the exact nature and priority of the needs are that should be the focus for the technical community to address - we should look to build platforms and tools that both help in Sandy recover as well as become durable platforms for future responses
  • The city agencies we'd like to work with are buried and are not in a position to focus on a hackathon; not having their participation would be a big gap as their involvement allows us access to a whole host of tools, data, and expertise that would make what is developed at the hackathon much more useful
This is mind, the current thinking amongst those of us who have been considering a hackathon, in particular the leadership of NYTM as well as some of the lead volunteers, is as follows:
  • Continue to maximize the use of the various co-working spaces that have opened their doors to members of the technology community. These co-working spaces can be found using the tool
  • Consider working with several planned upcoming hackathons; encourage them to focus on Sandy related relief projects
  • Plan for a #NYTechResponds hackathon for later in the month when needs are better understood and transit is better recovered; this will also give us time to better plan for the fundraising angles we'd like to tie into this event
  • Hold a hackathon that emphasizes getting bright, talented people from different organizations and background in a room to crowdsolve problems in working groups based on expertise and experience.
What do you think? Check out the Google Doc about the hackathon we've created and share your thoughts there around the where, when, how, why, and what of the hackathon. The will help us to maximize the hackathon's utility to Sandy and applicability to future responses.

Hurricane Hackers
Our friends at Hurricane Hackers have made a lot of progress today. Two particularly notable developments:

Tools and Key Links
Here are some helpful links and URLs right now as the response continues:

"Sponsor a volunteer" fundraising platform
As we were thinking about the hackathon, we also discussed doing a "sponsor a volunteer" pledge drive whereby donors could give money to charities by pledging money per hour of volunteer work -- essentially a way of "double dipping" whereby each hour of volunteer work produces both concerte action and new dollars to support relief. Take a look at the basic spec we put together for the idea here - Let us know what you think and if you might like to help build this idea out.

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