Have you ever heard of a hackathon? It's basically an event that gives developers a chance to show off their skills in an extreme manner over a short period of time.
In the heart of DC, in a workspace specifically designed for some of the most promising startup companies, a group of talented computer programmers gathered for a friendly competition-- #FreedomHack.
Held over the weekend at 1776 this hackathon for good had one main purpose--enabling journalists and citizen reporters throughout Mexico with a set of tools to safely provide coverage of events to the world.
ANTON: "This hackathon is really putting together the activists and the journalists and the NGO's and the media companies and the hackers to create a set of tools and an explanation to those tools to enable all of those guys to understand how to protect themselves, whether they're coming out of Syria or or their coming out of cartel controlled areas."
The event, organized by Cont3nt.com, Community Red and in partnership with the US and Mexican sections of Amnesty International, kicked off with an explanation of the rules and the formation of teams.
The contest was broken down into 3 categories--new initiatives, improvement to existing initiatives and activism initiatives-- with winning teams having the chance to actually test their products in the field in Mexico. Teams had just 24 hours to complete their projects and some of them worked straight through the night. They had only 3 minutes to demonstrate what they had come up with and explain why it was unique.
The judges spent 40 minutes deliberating and the scores were tight-- in the end it seem to come down to simplicity and security for the user.
The three victors were: Portkey, Awesome Security and Security Toolkit-- with Awesome Security winning the overall grand prize.
But in the improvement category perhaps a game changer--- journalists in dangerous locations now being able to send out a notification complete with their last known coordinates via a Smartphone if they do not check in with a contact within a set period of time. The applications name--Panic Button.
The judges felt the added improvements to the existing program Panic Button were not only creative, but could be used in various situations and ultimately, did the most good. The team is looking forward to testing it out in Mexico.
Katy Ricalde, Fox News
**Check out photos from the event and more information on the winning teams on the Cont3nt blog.
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