Random Hacks of Kindness

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Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) is a joint initiative between Microsoft,[1] Google,[2] Yahoo!,[3][4] NASA,[5] and the World Bank.[6] The objective is to bring together subject matter experts around disaster management and crisis response with volunteer software developers and designers.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13]



Random Hacks of Kindness grew out of an industry panel discussion[14] at the first Crisis camp Bar Camp in Washington, DC in June 2009.[15] Panel attendees included Patrick Svenburg[16] of Microsoft, Phil Dixon[17] and Jeff Martin[18] of Google and Jeremy Johnstone[19] of Yahoo. They agreed to use their developer communities to create solutions that will affect disaster response, risk reduction and recovery.[20] 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)[21] decided on the name "Random Hacks of Kindness" for their first event.

An innovation incubator in the area of sustainable development, SecondMuse[22] acts as "operational lead" for Random Hacks of Kindness,[14] coordinating global volunteer efforts, facilitating collaborative partnerships, and managing communications and branding.

RHoK 0[edit]

The first Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK 0)[23] was held at the Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, California in November 2009.[24][25][26] FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate gave the keynote[8] 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[27] in computer programming.

Featured projects were[28]

  • I'm OK
  • Tweak the Tweet (not a code "hack", but an edit/republish "hack")[29]
  • Break Glass

Tweak the Tweet was used during the Haiti earthquake response in January 2010[30]

RHoK 1.0[edit]

The second RHoK event was held at the Microsoft Chevy Chase offices in Washington DC on June 4–6, 2010.[31][32][33][34] Crisis Commons hosted a Crisis Camp co-located.[35] 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.[7]

While the Washington, DC RHoK was the "main stage", several other locations hosted satellite events at the same time,[31] 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),[36][37] a system to make landslide predictions. CHASM continues to be developed and is supported by groups including the World Bank.[38]

RHoK 2.0[edit]

The third Random Hacks of Kindness was held on December 4 and 5, 2010, in 21 cities on 5 continents.[38][39][40]

RHoK 3.0[edit]

The fourth Random Hacks of Kindness was held in 2011. Current sourcing more information on this hackathon.

RHoK 4.0[edit]

The fifth Random Hacks of Kindness was held twice in one year. On the 3-4 June 2012 and again on the 1-2 December 2012. 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.

RHoK 5.0[edit]

The sixth global hackathon 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.[41][42] 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.

Subsequent events[edit]

The RHoK hackathons in 2014 are believed to be held around June and December as it has become a norm over the past few years. The topics or challenges for 2014 have not yet been discussed or posted on the Random Hacks of Kindness.

Featured hacks[edit]

Each RHoK event and location chooses specific "winning" hacks done during the event. The full list can be found on the RHoK wiki.[43] These may be new projects with code developed, or they may build on existing projects and code. Local events use a consistent judging criteria:[44]

  1. creativity / innovative / unique
  2. utility, can it be used in the field?
  3. applicable, does it solve a problem
  4. impact, local or global
  5. progress (on existing work, or starting from nothing)
  6. usability
Event/Location Host Featured Hacks
RHoK 0
Mountain View, CA, USA[45] Hacker Dojo I'm OK, Tweak the Tweet
RHoK 1.0
Washington, DC[46] Microsoft office, Chevy Chase, MD CHASM
RHoK 2.0 to 5.0[47]
Aarhus Aarhus University, Lasse Chor & Tobias Sonne Connectivity Mapper
Atlanta Georgia Tech Research Institute GTRI HeightCatcher, WhoIsOk, Happens (coming soon)
Berlin Betahaus Disaster Maps
Boston tie between SHP to OSM converter and HeightCatcher
Cape Town Archie Makuwa & Datonomy RHoKCT
Jakarta Australia Indonesia Facility for Disaster Reduction Disaster Streaming and Earthquake Fatality Risk and SIMBA
Nairobi Disaster resource allocator
New York Parsons The New School for Design TaskMeUp, and Incident Commander. OpenScribble for best small team hack.
Pretoria UNISA, House4Hack [1]
Johannesburg UNISA, House4Hack and ThoughtWorks ThoughWorks SA
Tel Aviv Google Tel Aviv office IAmNotOk

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[48] and be released in a public code repository. RHoK maintains a GitHub repository which contains code for many of the hacks.[49]

Relationship to other initiatives[edit]

Crisis Commons: Random Hacks of Kindness events are often conducted in close collaboration with Crisis Camp and Crisis Commons.[50] As noted above the first RHoK (0) grew out of the first Crisis Camp in Washington DC in June 2009, and RHoK 1.0 in Washington DC was co-located with the Second Washington DC Crisis Camp.[31] Crisis Commons members have collaborated to create and manage problem definitions for RHoK events: see for example "We Have We Need" for RHoK 1.0.[51]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Noel Dickover (2010-09-15). "Random Hacks Of Kindness For Humanity | Sector: Public". Sectorpublic.com. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  2. ^ Adams, Christiaan (2010-11-23). "Official google.org Blog: Random Hacks of Kindness #2 - Come hack for humanity!". Blog.google.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  3. ^ "Yahoo! Encourages Women to attend Random Hacks of Kindness Event to Help Solve Humanitarian Problems | Yodel Anecdotal". Ycorpblog.com. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  4. ^ "Industry Competitors Join Forces For 1st Ever Random Hacks of Kindness Event | Yodel Anecdotal". Ycorpblog.com. 2009-11-18. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  5. ^ "NASA - Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK)". Nasa.gov. 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  6. ^ "Latin America and Caribbean - Innovation and Technology Can Reduce Impact of Disasters". Go.worldbank.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  7. ^ a b Aneesh Chopra (2010-06-03). ""Hacking for Humanity" | The White House". Whitehouse.gov. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  8. ^ a b "FEMA: FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate Keynotes Random Hacks Of Kindness, Disaster Relief Codejam". Fema.gov. 2009-11-13. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  9. ^ "Technology Workshop Seeks to Design Real-Time Mobile, Social Technologies for Powering United Nations Global Crisis Monitoring, 1–3 December". Un.org. 2010-12-01. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  10. ^ Siteresources.worldbank.org
  11. ^ "Keynote image - Photos: Random Hacks of Kindness - CNET News". News.cnet.com. 2009-11-15. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  12. ^ Krill, Paul (2010-11-23). "Random Hacks of Kindness weekend set for developers | Developer World". InfoWorld. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  13. ^ Public Sector DPE Team (2010-11-23). "You are invited - Random Hacks of Kindness - Hacking for Humanity - Global events - December 4–5, 2010 - Public Sector Developer Weblog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs". Blogs.msdn.com. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  14. ^ a b "What is Random Hacks of Kindness? « RHoK". Rhok.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  15. ^ "Crisis Camp - Crisiscamp - Web 2.0- Eventbrite". Crisiscamp.eventbrite.com. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  16. ^ "Patrick Svenburg's Page - CrisisCampDC". Crisiscampdc.ning.com. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  17. ^ "Phil Dixon's Page - CrisisCampDC". Crisiscampdc.ning.com. 2009-06-15. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  18. ^ http://crisiscampdc.ning.com/profile/JefferyMartin
  19. ^ Crisiscampdc.ning.com
  20. ^ "" (2010-12-03). "A History of RHoK". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-12-23. 
  21. ^ "What is Random Hacks of Kindness? « RHoK". Rhok.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  22. ^ secondmuse.com
  23. ^ "RHoK #0 « RHoK". Rhok.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  24. ^ "" (2009-11-13). "RHoK at the Hacker Dojo". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  25. ^ "Hackers Unite in the Name of Disaster Preparedness". Emergencymgmt.com. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  26. ^ "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. 
  27. ^ "0-based indexing". Xw2k.nist.gov. 2006-07-06. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  28. ^ "RHoK #0 « RHoK". Rhok.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  29. ^ "Tweak the Tweet « RHoK". Rhok.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  30. ^ "Project EPIC: Helping Haiti/Tweak the Tweet". Epic.cs.colorado.edu. 2010-01-18. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  31. ^ a b c "RHoK #1 « RHoK". Rhok.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  32. ^ "Washington, D.C. - a set on Flickr". Flickr.com. 2010-06-06. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  33. ^ Public Sector DPE Team (2010-05-25). "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. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  34. ^ "Random Hacks of Kindness DC - World Bank - Microsoft- Eventbrite". Rhokdc.eventbrite.com. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  35. ^ "Random Hacks of Kindness 2010 - CrisisCommons Wiki". Wiki.crisiscommons.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  36. ^ "CHASM Software - Combined Hydrology & Slope Stability Model". Chasm.info. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  37. ^ "RHoK #1.0 Washington D.C. Winning Hack: CHASM « RHoK". Rhok.org. 2010-06-11. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  38. ^ 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. 
  39. ^ "RHoK #2 « RHoK". Rhok.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  40. ^ "RHoK #2 World Map « RHoK". Rhok.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  41. ^ "Blog post from RHoK.org with photos of UN Secretary General launching RHoK 2.0 in New York". RHoK.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  42. ^ "UN Secretary General Speaks at Random Hacks of Kindness Launch and appeals to global Open Source community". UN Global Pulse. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  43. ^ "RHoK project list". RHoK.org. Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  44. ^ "Random Hacks of Kindness Hack Judging Criteria". RHoK.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  45. ^ "RhoK 0 Featured Hacks". RHoK.org. Archived from the original on 2010-11-02. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  46. ^ "RHoK 1.0 Featured Hacks". RHoK.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  47. ^ "RHoK 2.0 Featured Hacks". RHoK.org. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  48. ^ "RHoK projects must use an OSI approved license". Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  49. ^ Github.com
  50. ^ Crisiscommons.org
  51. ^ "Crisis Commons problem definition for We Have We Need, along with working notes from RHoK 1.0 development stream". Crisis Commons. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 

External links[edit]