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Develop for Good: Hackathon

Challenge: Conflict Reporting for Blackout Situations in Repressive Regimes

The Challenge: 
We ask you to change the way citizens are able to anonymously report violence in repressive regimes when phone and Internet connections may be temporarily limited or intermittently severed. 

A substantial percentage of the world population lives under repressive governments: in 2011, Freedom House’s 17 “Worst of the Worst” countries had 1.6 billion citizens living in them. The governments of these countries censor journalists, jail dissidents, and deny basic freedoms of speech to citizens. When the people in these countries rise up against their governments, these governments turn violent (most recently in Egypt and Syria). Information about incidents of violence in these situations is tremendously important: it can shame governments into reform, help the international community pressure regimes to cease violence, and increase citizens’ own commitments to affecting change.

Existing tools (e.g. Ushahidi) are well-designed for crowd-sourcing data in conflict regions, but are not designed for total blackout scenarios, such as when the Mubarak regime essentially shut down the Internet in Egypt. In such situations, existing platforms for expression -- YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ -- may not be accessible. A practical solution should allow users to record information on acts of violence from low-end phones, store that information when phone or Internet connections are temporarily severed, and relay that information online when connections are restored.

Office hours:
Do you need to connect with the challenge lead? You can ask a question over Google Chat or Video Chat. Simply add the email to your chat list to invite the lead to join you in a chat. Once they accept, you can communicate over chat or you can ask the lead if he is available to Video Chat (simply click on the camera icon in your chat box to initiate the video call). 

Office Hours are:
Wednesday: 5:00AM - 12:00PM PDT
Thursday: 5:00AM - 9:00AM PDT, 10:00AM - 1:00PM PDT
Friday: 5:00AM - 12:00PM PDT

Additional reading:
Timing & submission: 
  • Hackers can start thinking about and working on this challenge before I/O but we encourage participants to take part in an Extended hackathon to complete their project.  
  • The Google Ideas challenge expert will also be available over hangout during the hours of the San Francisco hackathon (link to come) and will be answering questions submitted to the moderator pageGeneral questions will also be answered on the FAQ page.
  • In order to qualify for judging, please submit your hackathon proposal via this form by 11:59pm (PST) on June 29, 2012.
  • Submissions will be reviewed by a judging team of Googlers following 06/29/2012 and we hope to announce the most successful projects by 08/01/2012. 
  • Once the judging process has been completed we will feature the most successful hacks on the Google Developers blog, and the most successful team will win tickets to I/O 2013! See further details on prizes below. 
Submitted projects will be judged primarily on the potential impact but also for originality and international scalability, and specifically the following:
  • Originality: how original is this solution compared to other products and platforms already available? The submission should provide a unique approach to solving the problem.
  • Usefulness: does the application allow individuals to report on current events using “rich” media (photos, video, voice)? Can the data be trusted? Can a sufficiently broad population use the application to collect meaningful data?
  • Appropriateness: most users won’t download an app specifically for violence reporting. Most users in relevant countries do not have smart phones (see for example, mobile browser distribution in Egypt). Is the solution appropriate for the potential future users?
  • Security: do users have a reasonable expectation of privacy and safety in using the application?
  • Potential to scale: If used successfully in one conflict environment, could it be easily redeployed by others and with other languages?
  • User ease: Can the application be adopted and used with minimal training by people in conflict zones? Is the application usable by people with limited literacy?
  • Administrator ease: Can an instance of the application be run by organizations with minimal technical expertise (e.g., NGO’s, the UN)
  • Functionality: working functionality of submission as submitted, without further demonstration, and the potential for the submission to be completed through to launch (this will also take into account demonstrated technical capabilities).
  • Design / User experience.
  • Accessibility: for example, how accessible a website is to a screen reader. See further guidelines at the following resources:
  • Social: Any integration with Google+! 
  • Critical parts of submissions should be in English, as we unfortunately will not have translation capabilities.
The most promising submission in each challenge will be awarded the following:
  • Tickets to I/O 2013!
  • Title of 'Google Developer for Good' for 2012,  which will be featured on the Google Developer and Google Chrome blogs.  We will also provide the appropriate material to incorporate the award onto any personal websites / blogs. 
  • Mentor time with the Google Ideas team to work on the project through to completion.  
  • Chromebooks: there will be one additional prize of a Chromebook for the best web app submitted across all the challenges. See further details on the main hackathon page. [Note: there will only be one winner for this prize across all three challenges]
See full set of hackathon rules