Olongapo school tops ‘disaster’ hackathon with cross-platform app

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Gordon College CCS (College of Computer Studies), an unheralded school from Olongapo City, snatched the top prize in the inaugural “Readysaster: Hack for Resilience” event last May 11 at the Smart Tower in Makati City.

The triumphant team from Gordon College CCS
The triumphant team from Gordon College CCS

Gordon College emerged victorious with their cross-platform mobile application called “iLigtas.” Their winning app has three main features — iHanda, which provides real-time news and disaster hotlines; iTulong, which allows people to mark vital locations and ask for aid using a virtual map; and iBangon, which helps non-government organizations (NGOs) and local government units (LGUs) track down areas in need of assistance.

Organized by the Open Data Philippines (ODP) Task Force, “Readysaster” served as part of the global ?Code for Resilience? initiative, a project of the of the World Bank Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) aiming to build communities? resilience to natural disasters through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

The 48-hour hackathon gathered over 90 IT developers, designers, students, data experts, disaster experts, and ordinary citizens under one roof to collaborate in teams and develop locally relevant Web and mobile applications to help solve Disaster Risk Management (DRM) challenges.

The hackathon teams rushing their apps
The hackathon teams rushing their apps

Ninety six participants were grouped into 24 teams of four and presented with five major DRM challenges faced by the government, citizens, and civil society organizations. Teams had to innovate and create solutions using geospatial and disaster data from government information portal data.gov.ph.

The challenges had hackers create applications for the data collection of exposed infrastructures, recovery and response asset management and monitoring, person finding and check-ins during disaster, public alerts, and post-calamity damage assessment.

Teams developed their applications from Saturday, May 10, until Sunday morning, May 11, while the presentations and judging took place Sunday afternoon.

Event partners including the World Bank, GFDRR, Smart Developers Network, Microsoft Philippines, Google Developers, and Project Noah also conducted workshops during the first day to help participants understand open data use in DRM and allow them to consult with technology experts with regard to their applications.

Other winning applications were disaster, weather, and incident mapper Alisto.PH; LGU surveying tool Disaster Hub; person tracker, disaster reporter, and alert system Alertness in Disaster (AID); post calamity damage and need assessor eUlat; and person and asset tracker Heartbeat.

The winning teams
The winning teams

According to ODP developer evangelist Nick Castro, they intend to develop the winning prototypes into full applications in time for the rainy season. After the meet, Castro said they will coordinate with the winning teams and encourage them to develop their apps further with the help of the ODP Task Force.

“Even before disaster happens, they (the people) will know what to do and how to mitigate the impact. That’s how I think open data can make an impact, especially in saving the lives of people,” said Castro.

Participant teams were also encouraged to submit their prototype applications to the “Code for Resilience“? website for its worldwide competition. The winners will win a trip to London to participate in the “Understanding Risk Conference”.

Readysaster is ODP’s second open developer event. Its first hackathon, #KabantayngBayan, took place in November 2013 and focused on enhancing budget transparency and accessibility.

Open Data Philippines is the country’s ?ambitious commitment? to the Open Government Partnership, a consortium of countries committed to promoting transparency, empowering citizens, and strengthening governance through open data. The Philippines is one of the partnership’s eight founding member countries.

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