I spent the weekend at Seattle’s Impact Hub supporting a new local event called Hack to End Homelessness. Hack2End (the event’s Twitter hashtag) has been established to help local non-profits serving the needs of the disadvantaged to collaborate on solutions with software developers, designers and data visualization experts.
The ultimate goal: use technology to solve the problem of homelessness!
The event started with a Friday night screening of @home, a documentary about Invisible People founder and homeless advocate Mark Horvath's efforts to reach out to individuals around the country living in unfortunate circumstances.
The following Saturday morning, helpful “hackers” paired up to share their skills with 12 non-profit groups including: YouthCare, Columbia Legal Services, Survive the Streets, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, King County YWCA, Real Change and the Committee to End Homelessness of King County.
Mark Horvath was present throughout the event and circulated between teams offering helpful insight gained from years spent confronting the complex issues surrounding poverty in America.
After the kickoff, resulting teams got to work designing and building a variety of creative solutions. Many spent long hours into the night hacking away at various tricky problems; Still others went on “field trips” to experience the true nature of life on the streets to help inform the solutions they were building.
The following Sunday night, the results were presented to local social entrepreneurs at a packed event attended by local media and community leaders. Overall, the hackathon as a resounding success and received positive coverage from local news source KOMO 4 as well as GeekWire. Solutions included helpful data visualizations, mobile applications, a social network for the homeless.
Seeing so many enthusiastic people spend their weekend working together for a good cause was energizing and I look forward to attending the next #hack2end! Thanks to all participants, non-profits and organizers for coming together around this solvable, pervasive issue. View my full photo set on Flickr.