Random Hacks of Kindness

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Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) is a global community of technologists dedicated to solving problems for charities, non-profits and social enterprises by organising recurring hackathons [1] that has existed since 2009. The organisation currently has a presence in over 20 cities throughout 5 continents, and had 2000 participants in 2017.[2]



Random Hacks of Kindness grew out of an industry panel discussion[3] at the first Crisis camp Bar Camp in Washington, D.C. in June 2009.[4] Panel attendees included Patrick Svenburg[5] of Microsoft, Phil Dixon[6] and Jeff Martin[7] of Google and Jeremy Johnstone[8] of Yahoo!. They agreed to use their developer communities to create solutions that will affect disaster response, risk reduction and recovery.[9] The idea was for a "hackathon" with developers producing open source solutions. The World Bank's Disaster Risk Reduction Unit (Stuart Gill) and NASA's Open Government team (Robbie Schingler) joined the partnership and these "founding partners" (Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, NASA and the World Bank)[10] decided on the name "Random Hacks of Kindness" for their first event.

An innovation incubator in the area of sustainable development, SecondMuse[11] acts as "operational lead" for Random Hacks of Kindness,[3] coordinating global volunteer efforts, facilitating collaborative partnerships, and managing communications and branding.

2009: RHoK 0[edit]

The first Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK 0)[12] was held at the Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, California on November 12–14, 2009.[13][14][15][16] FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate gave the keynote[17] and made a call to action to the developers to apply their creativity to the challenges and featured hacks. The first RHoK event is known as RHoK 0 after 0-based array indexing[18] in computer programming.

Featured projects were[19]

  • I'm OK
  • Tweak the Tweet (not a code "hack", but an edit/republish "hack")[20]
  • Break Glass

Tweak the Tweet was used during the Haiti earthquake response in January 2010[21]

2010: RHoK 1.0 and 2.0[edit]

The second RHoK event was held at the Microsoft Chevy Chase offices in Washington DC on June 4–6, 2010.[22][23][24][25] Crisis Commons hosted a Crisis Camp co-located.[26] The reception for RHoK 1.0 was held at the US State Department, and was blogged by Aneesh Chopra, the United States Chief Technology Officer.[27]

While the Washington, DC RHoK was the "main stage", several other locations hosted satellite events at the same time,[22] including Oxford England, Jakarta Indonesia, Sydney Australia, Nairobi Kenya, São Paulo Brazil, and Santiago Chile.fd

The "winning" hack at the Washington DC event was a new interface on CHASM (Combined Hydrology and Stability Model),[28][29] a system to make landslide predictions. CHASM continues to be developed and is supported by groups including the World Bank.[30]

The third Random Hacks of Kindness was held on December 4 and 5, 2010, in 21 cities on 5 continents.[30][31][32]

2011 - 2013: RHoK 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0[edit]

The fourth Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK 3.0) was held in 2011 in the cities of: Buenos Aires, Toronto, Nairobi, Lusaka, Bogota, San Pablo, Singapore, Tel Aviv, Birmingham, México DF, Juárez, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. The most active city to be participant was Buenos Aires, which was held in the Globant office and the participants included Guibert Englebienne (CTO of Globant) and Alejandro Pablo Tkachuk (ex-Globant and now CTO of Calculistik).[33]

RHoK 3.0 was held twice in 2012: On the 3–4 June and again on the 1–2 December. This saw multiple cities come into play and a huge turnaround of developers from all over the world including Cape Town. The focus of the hackathon was toilets and/or sanitation.

The sixth global hackathon (RHoK 4.0) was also a major success. It was held twice in 2013 (in June and in December). UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gave the keynote speech at New York.[34][35] Also speaking at NYC were NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, Google vice president for research Alfred Spector, Microsoft Director Patrick Svenburg, Parsons The New School for Design Dean Joel Towers and UN Global Pulse director, Robert Kirkpatrick.

2014 - 2016[edit]

2014 and 2015 saw the organisation shrink as the rhok.org website went down, cutting off global coordination[36] and events in a number of cities ceased to be held. However, a new website was created at the end of 2016 at rhok.cc,[37] and communities continued to thrive in multiple cities in India and Australia, as well as Ottawa and Berlin.[38] RHoK Jnr, an independent effort for students in the United States, also continued to thrive, holding 7 events in 2016.[38]

2017 - 2018[edit]

In 2017 rebuilding of the global community continued, and connections with all the active RHoK communities around the world were reestablished. The global community grow considerably, with events over 6 cities in Australia and 3 in India, as well as events in Ottawa, Berlin, Washington DC, Pretoria, and Ghana.[2]

2021 -[edit]

The global community maintains a strong foothold in Australia having bi-annual hackathons. [39] A new Copenhagen chapter was established in 2021 and planning for the first hackathon in April 2022. [40]

Open source code[edit]

The Random Hacks of Kindness specifies that all contributions and code produced during RHoK hackathons must be released under an OSI approved open source license[41] and be released in a public code repository. RHoK maintains GitHub repositories which contain code for many of the hacks.[42]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Random Hacks of Kindness Australia Homepage". Random Hacks of Kindness. Retrieved 2018-06-02.
  2. ^ a b "2017 Random Hacks of Kindness Year in Review". Google Docs. Retrieved 2018-06-02.
  3. ^ a b "What is Random Hacks of Kindness? « RHoK". Rhok.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  4. ^ "Crisis Camp - Crisiscamp - Web 2.0- Eventbrite". Crisiscamp.eventbrite.com. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  5. ^ "Patrick Svenburg's Page - CrisisCampDC". Crisiscampdc.ning.com. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  6. ^ "Phil Dixon's Page - CrisisCampDC". Crisiscampdc.ning.com. 2009-06-15. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  7. ^ "Jeffery Martin's Page".
  8. ^ Blanchard, Heather. "Search Results - jeremy johnstone". crisiscampdc.ning.com.
  9. ^ "A History of RHoK". YouTube. 2010-12-03. Retrieved 2010-12-23.
  10. ^ "What is Random Hacks of Kindness? « RHoK". Rhok.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  11. ^ "SecondMuse brings communities together to build resilient economies". SecondMuse.
  12. ^ "RHoK #0 « RHoK". Rhok.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  13. ^ "RHoK at the Hacker Dojo". YouTube. 2009-11-13. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  14. ^ "Hackers Unite in the Name of Disaster Preparedness". Emergencymgmt.com. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  15. ^ "Random Hacks of Kindness support disaster relief projects | The intersection of the web and the World Bank". Blogs.worldbank.org. 2009-11-30. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  16. ^ "Press Releases - pressroom".
  17. ^ "FEMA: FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate Keynotes Random Hacks Of Kindness, Disaster Relief Codejam". Fema.gov. 2009-11-13. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  18. ^ "0-based indexing". Xw2k.nist.gov. 2006-07-06. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  19. ^ "RHoK #0 « RHoK". Rhok.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  20. ^ "Tweak the Tweet « RHoK". Rhok.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  21. ^ "Project EPIC: Helping Haiti/Tweak the Tweet". Epic.cs.colorado.edu. 2010-01-18. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  22. ^ a b "RHoK #1 « RHoK". Rhok.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  23. ^ "Washington, D.C. - a set on Flickr". Flickr.com. 2010-06-06. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  24. ^ "You're Invited to be a part of the Random Hacks of Kindness "Hackathon" - June 4–6, Washington DC - Public Sector Developer Weblog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs". Blogs.msdn.com. 2010-05-25. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  25. ^ "Random Hacks of Kindness DC - World Bank - Microsoft- Eventbrite". Rhokdc.eventbrite.com. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  26. ^ "Random Hacks of Kindness 2010 - CrisisCommons Wiki". Wiki.crisiscommons.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  27. ^ Chopra, Aneesh (2010-06-03). ""Hacking for Humanity" | The White House". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved 2010-12-07 – via National Archives.
  28. ^ "CHASM Software - Combined Hydrology & Slope Stability Model". Chasm.info. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  29. ^ "RHoK #1.0 Washington D.C. Winning Hack: CHASM « RHoK". Rhok.org. 2010-06-11. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  30. ^ a b "News & Broadcast - Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Nasa And The World Bank Team Up With Hackers From Around The World To Meet The Challenge Of Disaster Risk Management". Web.worldbank.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  31. ^ "RHoK #2 « RHoK". Rhok.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  32. ^ "RHoK #2 World Map « RHoK". Rhok.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  33. ^ "Apertura: Noticias económicas, financieras y de negocios - El Cronista".
  34. ^ "Blog post from RHoK.org with photos of UN Secretary General launching RHoK 2.0 in New York". RHoK.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  35. ^ "UN Secretary General Speaks at Random Hacks of Kindness Launch and appeals to global Open Source community". UN Global Pulse. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  36. ^ "Random Hacks of Kindness". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2018-06-02.
  37. ^ "Random Hacks of Kindness". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2018-06-02.
  38. ^ a b "RHoK Global 2016 - Review". Google Docs. Retrieved 2018-06-02.
  39. ^ "Random Hacks of Kindness". Random Hacks of Kindness. Retrieved 2022-03-24.
  40. ^ "RHOK CPH". RHOK CPH. Retrieved 2022-03-24.
  41. ^ "RHoK projects must use an OSI approved license". Retrieved 2010-12-09.
  42. ^ "RHoK - Overview". GitHub.

External links[edit]