I managed to book myself a seat at the Random Hacks of Kindness event, famously known as RHoK, that was held at the University of South Africa )Unisa in Pretoria this past weekend. I must say I did think twice about going considering that they put a lot of emphasis on “Open Technology” and Android which happen to be areas I’m not familiar with or know much about. Then again one shouldn’t be scared to learn something new and accept challenges
The RHoK is a worldwide event that takes place in different countries on the same weekend and this year 45 different cities took part. The aim is simple: A bunch of developers, NGO’s, technologists, educators and students come together ,pick different problems, have nice food, drink lots of coffee and spend the weekend tackling the problems presented and come up with innovative solutions for those problems. It’s a great event to really understand and seethe words ‘Team “and “Collaboration” in action.
The theme for the Pretoria RHoK was dubbed “African Solutions for African Problems” and we all know the different problems we have that range from education, water sanitation, crime, agriculture and health. The 45+ attendees at the RHoK Pretoria grouped themselves and worked on different problems like “Online Learning Material and Exercises on low cost devices presented by http://www.KhanAcademy.Org ”, H2O Detective presented by SEESAW(NGO), Virtual Science Laboratory for resource Constrained Schools presented by UNISA and Suspected CarFind presented by www. House4Hack.co.za just to name a few.
Once the groups split it was down to some serious brainstorming. What I found interesting was the energy and vibe in the room because even though some were not familiar with the different projects and technologies nobody became a spectator. Even the event conductor, Jabu Mtsweni got down and dirty. Ideas were broken down and coding started taking place.
I was glad to see lots of females in the house, for work related purpose ofcos. If I’m correct there were about 12 of them which was really a huge number considering how the field is dominated by their male counterparts. It would be really nice to see that number grow.
Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the last day of the event but the different groups presented their solutions to the judging panel. Not all the problems were completely solved but I’m sure come the next RHoK event which will be held in December there will be plenty of solutions.
Everybody who took part is a winner in their own different ways but someone has to go home with a price. H2O Detective, composed 7 members (4 males and 3 females) took the 1st price for their “Android application that enables field agents to track, log, and visualize households based on their water usage patterns using geo-tracking and average consumption data from the local municipality”.
To read more about the different problems presented and the winners visit http://www.rhok.org. I’m looking forward to the next event. Let’s continue “hacking for humanity” and coming up with “African Solutions for African Problems”