Hackathon: Hack the Camp

Hackathon Participant at the Impact Hub (State Department Photo)

After three intensive days of presentations and cooperation with their “Hack the Camp” mentors, ten teams of programmers, refugees, designers, social entrepreneurs, humanitarian workers, educators, and artists competed with their proposals during the final phase of the hackathon creative marathon to find sustainable, scalable solutions for refugee issues in Greece.

Team “NativeNet” won the first prize and $10,000 by presenting a smart mobile application that brings together all services available for refugees in Arabic, Farsi, and English.  It also includes basic Greek lessons and enables refugees to show off their skills and get in touch with NGOs and other potential employers.

Second prize and $6,000 was awarded to Team “Refergon,” which proposed an easier way for refugees to access the labor market through existing social networks by developing a “chatbot.”  At the same time, in cooperation with NGOs and academic institutions, Refergon will offer training for refugees to acquire business skills.

Refugee participants contributed as members of the NativeNet and Refergon teams.

The “Autonomous Water Supply” team focused on the issue of hygiene, winning third place and $4,000. The team cleverly designed a portable, collapsable sink that improves refugees’ access to clean water, especially vulnerable groups such as women and unaccompanied minors.

Special mention was given to the “EterART” team who proposed a performing arts project for children from different cultures, using their own bodies as percussion instruments.

The winning teams will receive mentoring and business incubation support from Impact Hub Athens for the next four months.  They also have the option of joining the Microsoft BizSpark program which provides access to innovative software development tools.  The cash prizes and additional services are designed to help the teams put their winning ideas into practice to benefit refugees.

Asef Farjam (MDM), Dimitrios Kokkinakis (Impact Hub Athens), Timos Platsas (Microsoft), Panagiotis Tsanakas (NTUA GRNET), Effie Tsiotsiou (Onassis Foundation), Nadina Christopoulou (Melissa Network), and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey R. Pyatt (U.S. Embassy Athens) participated in the judging panel.

In the first phase of Hack the Camp, which took place October 21-22 at Diplareios School, more than 70 participants and 30 experts from the fields of education, technology, culture, and humanitarian aid became a dynamic team that worked collaboratively to address to the needs of refugees and migrants during this crisis.  The contribution of refugees and migrants to offer their skills and experience was significant.

The final Hack the Camp was held on December 2-4, 2016 and was organized by the U.S. Embassy Athens, Impact Hub Athens, and the Onassis Foundation Cultural Center in collaboration with two international organizations with extensive experience in organizing humanitarian hackathons:  Creative Associates from the U.S. and International Alert from Great Britain.

Microsoft actively supported this initiative by furnishing prize money, offering technological and business mentoring groups, and providing software, which contributed to the successful implementation of the Hack the Camp ideas.  Intel also provided free technological equipment for participants that will develop hardware solutions.

You can find photos from Hack the Camp here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/40169011@N07/albums/72157675983125666

For more information about Hack the Camp, please visit the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/events/1473976499283402), and the Hack the Camp at GitHub (https: //github.com/HackTheCamp/wiki/wiki) or contact athens.hosts@impacthub.net, and (+30) 210 3210146.