This weekend, BongoHive, Peace Corps volunteers and eager techies from Lusaka got together once again for a Random Hacks of Kindness(RHoK) Global Innovation Hackathon here at BongoHive. Random Hacks of Kindness is a joint initiative by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, NASA, the World Bank and regional partners that encourages the improvement of communities through group collaboration to solve local problems. Usually, software solutions are created by groups of software engineers, programmers and anyone with sufficient interest or expertise as a group of ‘hackers’. These hackers come together over a weekend ‘hackathon’ (coding marathon) to get a solution down in two days.
After fueling our coders with their morning dose of caffeine on Saturday, the brainstorming session was underway at 9AM sharp. The ideas pitched were mostly directed towards the solving of problems experienced by Peace Corps volunteers or residents of rural areas. It took us a while to come down to the decision of solving two unique problems. By lunch time, the participants had broken up into two groups and were working on the projects. Saturday’s session ended at 5PM and by then the development organisation map was already up and running. The next day consisted of polishing off the apps and presenting them to the the rest of the participants.
The event brought about two innovative solutions:
1. Development Organization Map for Zambia (devorgzm.crowdmap.com)
One of the Peace Corps volunteers in Zambia, Erin McConnel, noted the recurring need for volunteers and development organizations to be able to know what development work is going on in specific areas. The solution decided on was a digital map indicating the locations where development organizations are currently operating. Tony Tseng, a Peace Corps volunteer who also attended the previous hackathon, commented how useful the project would be in helping the volunteers help the people: “To be able to visually see the development organizations on the ground will prove to be a very powerful tool to not only realize vulnerable communities but also communities that are overly saturated with aid.”
2. Malonda Business App
Now here’s a useful app for the small business owner in Zambia. The Malonda Business app is made as a compact record keeping system for start-up businesses that is concise and doesn’t require much tech expertise. The primary target of this app is small business owners in non-urban areas that need a step up from traditional paper based systems but aren’t quite ready for a full scale supermarket database. Caleb Rudow, a volunteer based in Petauke, talked about how the system is more secure, portable and accurate and can be run by anybody with basic business acumen.
To conclude 48 hours of RhoKing for our community we showcased the two apps and mingled over tea and coffee. The event was not only productive but enjoyable and we hope that even more talented coders and passionate members of the community will take part in future RHoK events.