Hackers organize to give back to the community

If you’re unfortunate enough to be caught in a natural disaster, but fortunate enough to survive, you might want to thank the hacker community for the ability to let your family know that you’re OK almost instantaneously. Random Hacks of Kindness is an event sponsored by the World Bank and NASA, as well as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. Groups of professional programmers gathered to create useful tools for first responders and victims to use in case of natural disaster, with a prize for the most useful contribution. FEMA administrator Craig Fugate delivered the keynote address, in which he praised the coding experts for their efforts. Among the contenders was a creative widget that allowed users to instantly post location-specific information across multiple social networks, which could allow first responders to share information more effectively. Another project attempted to use laptops, routers and sundry internet-connected devices to act as a mesh network, to be activated if normal networks crashed. But the eventual winner was the “I’m OK” app created by a team from NASA, which allows users to bypass wireless networks clogged by disaster-related traffic and instantly inform a pre-existing list of family and friends that “I’m OK.”

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