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Co-Organizing Hack4Humanity @ The World Humanitarian Summit

Co-Organizing Hack4Humanity @ The World Humanitarian Summit


How might we bring solutions-based thinking and build a new community of global creative minds to support the refugee and migrant crisis?


Hack4Humanity, an official event of the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, was an orchestration of hackers, developers, entrepreneurs, and humanitarian leaders that gathered in Istanbul to participate in a 24 hour hackathon.


The objective of Hack4Humanity is to co-create inspiring and unique solutions leveraging innovation, technology and multidisciplinary problem solving to respond to the refugee crisis.

Coordinating and Advising for real solutions to real challenges

Our innovation unit team served as a advisors and co-organizers, ensuring the challenges were grounded in reality, the participants represented a broad spectrum of talent, and all ideas has the opportunity to receive direct feedback from people working on the ground in refugee camps. As a part of this work, Unite Labs recruited talent from across four continents (including he co-founders of 500 Startups), as well as mentored and acted as subject matter experts to event participants.

Here is a video coordinated by the Unite Labs teams - shot the evening before the event from a Yazidi refugee camp in Northern Iraq -by writer and filmmaker Peter Holmes a Court:

A Sampling of the prototypes

After 24-hours of straight hacking (including a 3am electric guiar performance to wake everyone up) the teams had developed 10 prototypes. Including:


Small Beginnings

I can't help but feel that wider exposure to the processes, technologies, and new ways of thinking would be extremely helpful for OICT, on a larger scale. Hackathons are only somewhat about the final output. They're a launchpad. A pressure-cooker thank-tank that thinks by doing.

 In many ways, this event was only the beginning. I left the participants with this note at the end of the event:

I'm grateful to this new community for your energy, curiosity, vision, and hard work last week. As Karolina Stawinska said, "The world needs more than a 24 hour hackathon." 24 hours is barely a hiccup, especially for complex humanitarian challenges. The prototypes you built last week are exciting, and what's even more exciting is that they're a launchpad for this brilliant community to continue to pour your gifts into the world's humanitarian challenges.

Please use this community to share progress on the projects that emerged from this week, AND on all of your future work as you dig deeper into the humanitarian community. Let's each keep each other in motion. If there's anything I can do to help you connect your energy and talents to the needs inside of the UN, I'm here and ready to help.

I am inspired by what you've sparked with your energy and actions. I can not wait to see where these ideas go next.

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Accelerating Humanitarian Aid Planning with UN-OCHA & Microsoft

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