Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.
Nearly 50 developers and subject matter experts convened in Philadelphia at Drexel University’s Computer Science labs this morning to kick off their second RHoK event in 7 months.
Their portfolio of 6 projects impressively address diverse subjects and geographies, from local to regional to global, homelessness and hunger to political ad analysis to climate data visualization:
In many cities, there is no centralized information repository to serve the immediate needs of the homeless and hungry. In Philadelphia, for example, there are 40 shelters and 4 intake centers, and an unknown number of organizations that provide food – and real-time communication between them is minimal to non-existent. As a consequence, there is no easy and accurate way to guide people in need to available shelters and meals.
To quickly and accurately guide persons in need to closest available and open food and shelter resources.
A mobile friendly web app that provides information to guide individuals to an intake center, a place where meal can be accessed and a place to sleep for the night.
The app is targeted towards agencies, individuals serving people in need and the public. Shelters often cater to specific demographic groups: 1- single men; 2- single women; 3- families; and 4 – those with special needs (ex. physical abuse, substance abuse, mental health illness). Currently there is no way to gauge real-time availability of food and shelter services for these disparate groups. The Philly Sheltr Project is establishes consolidated baseline information (service availability), contact for intake centers and specific instructions to access resources.
2. Daily Global Climate Data Processing and Visualization Interface
There is a wealth of climate data (16 billion data points) that is fragmented into a variety of incompatible formats and lacking a consistent interface. This is problematic for individuals who run hydrological models such as soil water assessment tool (s.w.a.t.) and wish to easily visualize the data.
To bring this important data into a consistent format that can be imported into different tools and used to create easily utilized visualizations.
A web-based tool will allow the user to tabulate and generate outputs in Excel or DBF file from the Japanese Daily Global Gridded Climate Dataset available daily for Max. Temperature, Min. Temperature and Precipitation globally at half-degree resolution from 1948-2006. The tool then will perform matrix calculations and data extraction based on user input choices. Resulting output will be an Excel or a DBF file. The secondary component is a Python based web-interface to do the above mentioned process in a user-friendly manner. A tertiary optional component will involve data visualization based on aggregation of output data.
3. Truth Detector for Political Ads
Political ads are often misleading or false.
To empower the voter to quickly and accurately understand the context and facts of a particular ad.
An Android app that performs real-time audio analysis of a political ad, identifies the ad, its creator and content, and gives the listener access to journalistic resources and analyses by which by which to evaluate the ad.
4. Voter ID: The High Costs of a Free Photo ID
13 states require a photo ID for a citizen to vote. At least 30 additional states are considering such a requirement. There are cost and other obstacles to acquiring a photo ID that may prevent eligible citizens from being able to vote.
To help citizens understand what they need to vote: the voter ID requirements for their state, how obtain an ID, and any costs or obstacles associated with it.
A mobile friendly web application where an individual can type in their address and find out the answers to these questions. If an ID is required, the app also provides information about how to acquire a free ID and the necessary paperwork to acquire it, such as a birth certificate – as well as the costs associated with these requirements.
5. N-Vox: Neighborhood Voice
It is hard for the public to know its options regarding all forms of civic matters including city projects, transportation problems, housing arrangements, and more. There is no easy way for the public to collectively voice its preferences to decision makers.
To: 1- inform the public of its options on a variety of civic matters; 2- facilitate process by which public voices/votes their preferences; 3- inform decision makers of public opinion and desire; and 4- in principle, hold decision makers accountable for actions they take on behalf of the public.
A web-based crowd-sourcing platform that enables evaluation of options to civic matters in terms such as cost and complexity. This platform allows the public to vote up the issues that matter most to them and voice their opinions on potential solutions or decisions related to those issues.
There are many groups that have problems that can be easily solved by those with specific skills. For example, a village in Africa may need a rain water collection system but does not know the right way to engineer and build it.
To connect easily solvable problems with those who readily have the skills to solve them.
Hack2Unify is essentially a ‘dating site for social good’ where those with skills and those with needs are registered and potentially matched. In the above example, this mobile friendly web-application would suggest to the engineer that they may be of service to a particular village in need and would facilitate their contact.
This post by Ron Garan and the Collaboration Project team is one amazing way NASA is partnering with innovators and world-changers at RHoK to take the perspective, insight, and technology we have from space and make the world a better, safer, more beautiful place.
For thousands of years of human history, the vast majority of people in the world believed that it was impossible to fly to the Moon – simply because it had never been done before. Up until about 50 years ago people would have thought you were crazy to suggest we could go to the Moon, but human ingenuity and the determination of the human spirit proved that it was possible. Today, many people believe that it is impossible to solve the problems of the world. It is widely believed that is impossible to lift the poor out of poverty. ‘There have always been poor in the world and there always will be,’ they say. If we can land on the Moon and return to Earth safely, if nations can join together and build an enormous research facility in orbit, we can, by working together, solve many of the challenges facing our planet including the alleviation of poverty. Nothing is impossible.
When we look at the Earth from space we are faced with a sobering contradiction. On one hand, we can clearly see the indescribable beauty of the planet we have been given; on the other hand, is the unfortunate reality of life for a significant number of our beautiful planet’s inhabitants.
When astronauts reflect on how peaceful, beautiful, and fragile the Earth looks from space, these reflections are not clichés that astronauts say because they feel good. It is truly moving to look at the Earth from space. We can look down at a particular part of the Earth and feel empathy for the struggles that all people face. We can look down with an orbital perspective and realize that we are all riding through the Universe together on this spaceship we call Earth, that we are all interconnected, that we are all in this together, that we are all family. This is what we call the “Orbital Perspective.”
It saddens us and compels us to action when we realize that we have the resources and technology to overcome almost all of the challenges facing our planet, yet nearly a billion people do not have access to clean water, countless go to bed hungry every night, and many die from preventable and curable diseases.
We believe that we live in a world where the possibilities are limited only by our imagination and our will to act. It is within our power to eliminate the suffering and poverty that exist on our planet.
The answer is quite simple – just do something. The challenges of the world are really about how each of us individually responds to them. In other words, to what extent does humanity, on a person-to-person basis, commit to making a positive difference, no matter how small or how big?
The good news is there are over 20 million organizations around the world working to improve life on our planet where people can lend a hand.
The bad news is, for the most part, these organization are not engaged in a unified coordinated effort. There is a great deal of duplication of effort and loss of efficiency.
So what are we trying to do?
To illustrate the problem, let’s take a look at Felipe. Felipe has a calling to make a difference in the world. Let’s say he wants to help provide clean water to those who need it. Maybe Felipe wants to work with an organization providing clean water or maybe he wants to donate money to one of these many efforts. Felipe will find that there are thousands of organizations dedicated to solving the global water crisis. There is also a myriad of different technologies and different opinions on how to best solve the problem. Felipe will spend countless hours trying to find and sort through all the information on the subject. After all that work he will not find a definitive, impartial, logical, user-friendly listing of all his options.
Now let’s consider Celine. Celine founded an organization dedicated to providing clean water. Celine’s organization is presently working in country X and has run into problem Y. Celine does not realize that another organization has already solved the problem she faces and the current path that her organization is traveling down will lead to a dead end. She doesn’t realize that there are other organizations out there that have the pieces of the puzzle that she needs.
Lastly, let’s see about Maria. Maria lives in a village where people are frequently ill due to the poor quality of the water in her village and many die every year. Maria wants to help her village. Maria doesn’t realize that there is an organization that is presently looking for water projects to accomplish in her area and this organization is presently unaware of the situation in her village.
Although these are hypothetical situations they accurately represent the extremely disorganized state of humanitarian development.
One of Ron’s personal objectives on his recent mission was to use the orbital perspective to inspire people to go out and make a difference to go out and make the world a better place. To that end, we created a project called Fragile Oasis. The vision for Fragile Oasis is to be a vehicle to affect real change. Our idea was to pair systems on a spacecraft designed to support life (provide clean water, air, energy, health, etc.) to systems (or projects) on our spaceship Earth designed to provide the same thing. By providing a means for people and organizations in each of these categories to collaborate and develop synergy toward overcoming our planet’s challenges, we help these organizations that are striving to make the world a better place and reach their goals.
Since there are multiple organizations looking for effective ways to collaborate and synergize, it is critical to unify efforts to establish an effective collaboration mechanism for people and organizations to solve the challenges facing our world. By first bringing together those organizations that are striving to pair challenges with solutions we will be bringing together different unique pieces of the puzzle.
The goal of this collaboration is to bring together different perspectives to create one, simple, user-friendly mechanism to communicate and collaborate to tackle the challenges facing our world. By doing that we can all learn from each others’ successes and mistakes.
The Challenge for RHoK:
What better way to hack for humanity than to create an effective collaboration mechanism for people and organizations to solve the challenges facing the world. We need help to launch a collaboration platform, using data visualization and social networking resources to represent challenges facing our planet and progress towards their solutions, including the UN Millennial Development Goals.
The ultimate goal is to reduce that sobering contradiction that we see when we look at the Earth: that it is not only visibly beautiful, but a place where life is beautiful for all.
Specifically, we challenge the RHoK community to:
· Build a robust, user-friendly database of projects worldwide that is easily accessed with all metadata
· Add map visualization and organization functionality
· Add creative communication and chat capabilities that will allow everyone to connect and change the world together.
We have a number of partners who have already contributed pieces to the puzzle, including:
Coalition of the Willing
One Young World
Random Hacks of Kindness
We envision that the overall solution would:
· Be single source.
· Not take a “one site to rule them all” paradigm.
· Not compete with existing collaboration/networking systems. We want to create a system that all humanitarian organizations can use to enhance their matching service on their own sites.
· Allow people to scan data visualizations of the problems and challenges these different organizations are addressing, and also of the real or potential impact (determined using standardized metrics)
· Be helpful to people using individual organization’s sites. It wouldn’t replace the individual sites – it would complement them.
· Offer for people and orgs to install widgets on their sites and access the data through the widget on their own site.
· Be Open Source.
· Be user-friendly.
· Be standardized and universally accepted.
· Be apolitical.
· Be accurate.
· Be able to feed data to any site.
· The end product should be transparent to end users.
· Have robust social networking features.
· Have enhanced search tools.
· Allow users to participate in Facebook style chat.
· Be self sufficient and financially sustainable.
You don't have to be in orbit to have an orbital perspective.
What are your ideas about how to make the project effective and sustainable? Want to help with the Collaboration Project? Let us know - we need your help!