Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) is all about using technology to make the world a better place by building a community of innovation. Co-sponsored by NASA, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google, and the World Bank, RHoK sponsors a series of “hackathons” that bring the best and brightest hackers from around the world and disaster risk management experts together to identify critical global challenges and develop software solutions to respond to them. NASA supports RHoK to create a developer community to enhance and enable development and reconstruction efforts to share information, have access to timely data, and to collaborate publicly to solve some of the toughest social and environmental challenges today.
This type of collaboration underscores the strength of partnerships and the opportunity to bring innovation into organizations. The World Bank is embracing the concept of an active volunteer technical community and crowd sourcing to assist in addressing development challenges. NASA has a trove of Earth science data, modeling and simulation capabilities that are used by scientists to understand the changing global environment that can be used by the sustainable development community and to build a developer community around NASA data and software. Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft understand how to cultivate and inspire communities around developing software. Building a community of citizens to utilize open data in open standards and creating the environment for innovation to occur is central to innovation and at the core of the Open Government Initiative.
Two RHoK events were held in 2010, the first taking place in July and the second in December. Each event featured a “mainstage” location and dozens of global satellites, with hundreds of participants around the globe collaborating on projects online. Additional events are planned for the near future with the intent of being even larger and more collaborative than before.