Two Princeton University juniors, Jacob Scheer and Miguel Lachanskireached out to DLS-CSB to host Hack-The-Climate after winning a $10,000 grant from Davis Projects for Peace, a prize awarded to college students with project ideas that contribute to world peace. Working with a team of Filipino tech specialists headed by Diego Jose Ramos, they expect a crowd of 200-300 to participate in this record breaking 56-hour hackathon.The inspiration for this event came after Typhoon Yolanda, when they watched a video of YebSaño, the Philippines Climate Change Commissioner, who urged the world governments to take collective action by asking “If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?”
Jacob is a mechanical engineer studying sustainable energy, and Miguel is an economist studying the impacts of environmental destruction on the economy. They are self-labelled“eco-hacktivists,” where the word ‘hack’ is used in the sense of playful, exploratory or collaborative programming, not its alternate meaning as a reference to computer crime. Miguel explained that they chose to have this event in Manila since “the Philippines is a nation strongly affected by climate change, but at the same time has a vibrant, highly active tech community willing to help.” Governments have not yet come to a lasting climate agreement, so they wondered “Why can’t we do something to help right here and now?”
They’ve partnered with corporations like Smart Communications,SmartDevNet, Ideaspace and Microsoftas well as environmental NGOs based in the Philippines such as Climate Reality Project, Conservation International, Greenpeace and Move.ph by Rappler. They will discuss how developers can build apps to assist them in their climate change work. By joining hackers with eco-NGOs, the organizers envision that the apps developed at the hackathon will be utilized long after the hackathon concludes. They emphasized that this event is open to all: newbies just learning to code as well season hackers. Climate change activists looking to make a meaningful impact, network, and listen to keynote speakers are also welcome.
The hackathon is designed to support the development of applications that include climate changemitigation (i.e. carbon footprint monitoring/management), adaptation (finding a hospital during extreme weather events), andresilience (strengthening of deforestation enforcement).Each team will give a short demo of their application and the best apps will be determined by the environmental organizations based on their needs and judging criteria. Special prizes will be awarded to the teams with the best applications, including cash prizes, MacBook Pros, iPods and Windows Phones, as well as hundreds of thousands of pesos in developer tools.
At a blogger conference last week, Jacob summarized the team’s vision, “A changing climate doesn’t care if you’re Filipino or American, it affects all of us equally. We believe that the solution also must be a joint effort where people of different backgrounds work together to discover new solutions to the environmental problems we face.” By developing tools to mitigate and alleviate global warming, Hack-the-Climate:Manila will unlock the potential of the Philippines to make good things happen quickly in the struggle against climate change.