Hacking for volunteers. The Sony and Good for Nothing Make/Time developer event kicks off

Hacking for volunteers. The Sony and Good for Nothing Make/Time developer event kicks off

The Make/Time development event has kicked off in The Hub Westminster workspace in London and this is a hack weekend that is just that bit different.

Sony +U, the Android app for volunteering and Good For Nothing, the organisation that gets talented people together to collaborate are working with charitable organisations, Thames21 and Espace Bénévolat [Fr] to create mobile applications, or prototypes designed to get people up and volunteering.

In attendance at the launch were coders, designers, strategists, developers, animators and communications experts, all gathered for free to start their weekend of creating something for good.

Sony’s +U app is a mobile app to enable volunteering. It was created at Open Planet Ideas in 2010 where the company invited people to submit ideas to create a sustainable lifestyle.

Since then Sony has been been refining +U with feedback through the Open Planet Ideas Facebook page. The was released along with access to its open source code so that others can use it as a platform to create other volunteering projects.

Good for Nothing is the organisation behind many hack projects from presenting stories about Bletchley Park to telling the story of FoodCycle, each time they create an event, highly skilled people gather to create solutions as volunteers. The upshot, apart from doing good, is that there’s networking, chatter and fun to be had along the way.

Things to make and do

The challenges at this event are quite varied. Espace Bénévolat is a French organisation that finds groups looking for help and matches them to volunteers. It is looking for a mobile way for people to quickly find out how they can volunteer their time, where and when it might be needed and sign up straight away. Their website has this functionality as well as an associated site for youth volunteering, but it is time for them to provide a solution for people on the move.

Thames 21 helps keep our waterways clean. There is no statutory law in the UK that means anyone has to clean up the rivers and surrounding areas, so this work is usually done by volunteers.

The organisation has a treasure map on it’s website where people can add notes to locations when they either see something that needs clearing up, or if they find a treasure that they want to share. The only thing is – it doesn’t work on mobile. So Thames 21 is naturally looking for a mobile system that would integrate geolocation and image uploading so that waterway treasure hunters can add notes wherever they are.

It’s quite the task for the volunteers at this weekend event, but the atmosphere was one of cheerful cooperation as people declared their skills and talked about what they might be able to contribute.

By Sunday, hopefully at the very least there will be working prototypes for both organisations so that they can seek funding to get these applications made. The difference at this hack event is that there is no jury or panel of experts to judge the better work, but the volunteers can nominate other people that they work with and choose the reasons why they are great.

Though there is plenty of hard work ahead, there also a chance that everyone in the room will feel good by doing good.

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