Social innovation hackathons seem to be entering the hackathon culture in Sri Lanka. This is indeed a good sign; rather than the everyday entrepreneurs, we will have some social entrepreneurs too within the business sphere. We wrote to you about this particular event a while ago and the Hackathon of Code4Good which happened at the WSO2 premises concluded last Sunday (20th) after 56 hours of extreme coding.
The Pre-Hack Meetup
There was one another event that took place exactly a week before the hackathon, the pre-hack meet up. As we told you before, Code4Good isn’t just one hackathon; it is a series of events. The goal of the meetup was to bring in together coders, designers and entrepreneurs along with the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to discuss the problems. What really happened was that the CSOs were given 90 seconds to pitch the problem they stand for and say what they expect to see in the final product. It was an intensive session; since the CSOs had to make sure that they define the problem clearly within the 90 seconds as well as the participants understand the problem during the same time slot. Well, the majority of the segments throughout happened in the same style; extremely limited time slots. In a way, this is a good chance for everyone to manage their time properly.
The participants were given the chance to speak to all the CSOs in person. Again the clock was ticking. They were given the chance to form teams, well majority already came in teams. The next step was for the teams to sign up for one particular problem. That was all for the meetup and next on the timeline was the Hackathon.
56 hours, now that’s fairly a large number; maybe the lengthiest hackathon happened in Sri Lanka to date. Well if you ever happen to take part in one, you know how valuable this is and how you dream of having some more time.
Something quite interesting was happening. The participants went through a workshop by Facebook’s internet.org team. Deepti Doshi, Product Partnerships gave an overview on what Internet.org is and what they do. Next up was Sheila Rathnam, from Platform Partnerships who took the audience through the Facebook Developer Tools on how to build, grow and monetize the apps you build. What we all love, expert tips and best practices, it was a session by Alex Petrescu an Android engineer at Facebook on building apps for low bandwidth situations.
After the launch dinner, it was all about making the most out of the remaining hours to bake an innovative product.
Let the Pitching begin
Yet again a war with the clock, participants were given 3 minutes to present their ideas and 2 minutes to answer the questions raised by the panel of judges. The judges were Fayaz Hudah representing the ICT Sector, Marisa Fernando representing the NGO sector and Yan Naung Oak representing Asia’s Civic Tech Sector.
Given below are the problems that were shown by the CSOs and the teams who build applications for them.
- Creating a two-way information channel for farmers
Requirement: An app where the farmers would be able to communicate and get advice from government bodies like the Ministry of Agriculture on various matters like information about crops, pesticides etc.
Teams: Five Four Loops, Pending, Y-knots
- Helping women who experience violence access support services
Requirement: A platform for women and children to reach services like counseling, government and non-governmental organizations and women development services in a situation they face any violence.
Team: Palm One
- Receiving and processing complaints from citizens
CSO: Rights Now
Requirement: A virtual platform to their existing system to help the general public to lodge complaints and report regarding any ill-treating or rather injustice they face.
Teams: Emagine IT, Hexmatter+Rush
- Documenting and detecting hate speech trends
Requirement: a platform to report hateful comments and violence and a system to document hate speech on digital space and social media.
- Helping citizens find volunteering opportunities
Requirement: a volunteer matching service to search for volunteers to provide their help for different causes.
Teams: Api, SAS Ninjas, Smurfs
- Improving the way Police handle citizen complaints
Requirement: to bring back the trust the citizens have on the justice system, a platform to lodge the complaint they make and to rate on the service and response they received from the Police.
Team: Heroes and Zeros
- Increasing the accuracy of education-related data collection
Requirement: a system to collect accurate educational data to help policy makers to better support educational development.
Teams: BlackRooster, Codice Dominos, PixelClear
- Improved care and support for citizens psychosocial problems
CSO: The Good Practice
Requirement: a system to reach out to responsible people working on several sectors, like the disability officers, lawyers, social service workers, child rights officers etc. in order to network them for people who are in need.
- Enable citizens to contact ministers of Parliament
CSO: Verite Research
Requirement: a platform to connect MPs with causes to the society; which will allow people to create causes and tag them along to the responsible ministers and government bodies.
Teams: Bit Masters, Breaking Code, Daredevils
- Sharing and celebrating the good we see around us
Requirement: to have a system to capture and celebrate and promote the good that you see in Sri Lanka.
However, two teams went out of the normal way of making solutions for the problems stated by CSOs. Instead, they created apps for problems that they see. Team Mogo came up with an app for collaborative storytelling while team Shilpa Sayura introduced a platform for the fisherman.
The Winners and What Happen Next?
The three winning teams of Code4Good 2015 along with three other recommended teams by the panel of judges were qualified for the next step, the Incubation phase. Here teams will be given access to mentors, advisors and other experts. These experts will provide coaching and help maximize the social impact and sustainability or incoming generating potential of the product.
The teams Bit Masters, Hexmatter+Rush along with team Pending were the three recommended teams to enter the incubation process.
Code4Good 2015 actually produce two runner-ups; Teams Heroes and Zeros and SAS Ninjas walked away with LKR 50,000 worth prizes.
Team Breaking Code who came up with a platform to hold parliamentarians accountable was awarded the Champions at Code4Good 2015 along with prizes worth 100,000.
Next on the plan after the Incubation period would be the Demo Day, where the products will be presented and pitched in front of investors. That marked the end of Code4Good 2015, practically the 1st Social Innovation Hackathon to be held in Sri Lanka.
Just because your idea didn’t win today, doesn’t mean your idea is bad. Keep working. – Eranda Ginige