Meet the IDCE DisasterTech Hackathon Winners!
In August, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast will commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Since then, the world has seen an explosion in the development and adoption of mobile technology and new tools, enabling us to now experience disasters first-hand. Through the eyes and ears of those on the ground, we’ve all lived through each hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, wildfire, school shooting, protest and revolution. We’ve felt the fear, the loss, and the hope of those on the ground, through text, photo, and video. Armed with this information, with each disaster, communities have become more and more part of the response. Technology now connects those in need with those who want to help – a global community of neighbors, despite geographic location. Had technology been as advanced as it is today, imagine what we could have done in the days and weeks following Hurricane Katrina.
To kick off the tenth anniversary year of Hurricane Katrina, The International Disaster Conference & EXPO (IDCE), in partnership with CODEMKRS, a locally-owned company that has produced hackathons for South by Southwest Music Festival, Super Bowl XLIII, and the White House’s National Day of Civic Hacking, hosted the first annual #DisasterTech hackathon February 7-8, 2015 at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. A hackathon is an event where computer programmers, technology developers, designers and other creative thinkers collaborate in a contained environment to solve problems through technology in new and innovative ways. Leveraging lessons learned since Hurricane Katrina, the IDCE #DisasterTech Hackathon sought to foster the convergence of the disaster and tech communities, driving innovation and opportunity for collaboration by encouraging the development of advanced and long-term solutions in the public safety and disaster space.
Guided by first-hand input provided by the public safety and disaster response communities, participants worked together to develop open, platform-agnostic solutions and received input on challenges, experiences, and real-world examples from experts directly involved in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. Topics explored at the hackathon include: engaging the public and digital volunteers in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery; the ability to leverage information from new channels in new ways to support faster decision-making; more efficient collaboration through shared technologies and data, and more. Specific information regarding the hackathon’s problem sets was provided to participants.
Participants collaborated on potential technology products to use in conjunction with disaster preparedness, response, or recovery, and presented to a panel of judges that included Terry Ebbert, former Director of Homeland Security, City of New Orleans; Mark Cooper, Senior Director of Global Disaster Response, Wal-Mart; Dr. Robert Griffin, Deputy Under Secretary, US Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate; Chief Charles Werner, Fire Chief, City of Charlottesville, VA and Chair of the NISC; Alicia Johnson, Resiliency and Recovery Manager, San Francisco Department of Emergency Management; Devin Weaver, SeeClickFix.com; and Ben Cathers, Hootsuite.
The judges selected the first and second place winners of the hackathon. Read about each solution from the point of view of the hackathon participants:
Photo Credits: Sara Estes Cohen, 2015