Global Hack for Good to connect refugees, families

Digital Content

To raise awareness of the plight of refugees, and find new ways to reconnect refugee families in some of the most remote areas in the world, Ericsson and Refugees United will run a series of developer competitions leading up to World Refugee Day, on 20 June 2013.

Refugees United says the number of forcibly displaced people around the world is measured now at 43 million. That is why it is urgent to reconnect families who have been separated due to conflict, war, and disaster. So far nearly 200,000 refugees have registered on the service, and the aim is to reach 1 million by the end of 2015.

The Global Hack for Good will galvanize the talent and skill of the developer community toward a solution for separated families. The unique series of “hackathons” – a weekend-long marathon of developing applications on mobile networks – will be held on three continents, on three separate weekends, but all are working toward the same goal of making re-connection easier.

For example, refugees may be reluctant to share data, or they face challenges such as illiteracy and lack of internet connectivity. Developers might find ways to make the platform more accessible from low-cost mobile phones, change interfaces or modify the built-in messaging application that allows refugees to exchanges messages without additional costs.

The first hackathon will be in Cairo, Egypt, on 31 May-1 June. Then, a new batch of developers will gather in San Francisco, USA, on 7-8 June, and the third part of the Global Hack for Good will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, on 15-16 June.

Christopher Mikkelsen, co-founder of Refugees United, says: “Everyone has the right to know where their family is. To separated refugee families, this for many years seemed impossible. Today, we’re at a tipping point where technology can help them reconnect. Now it’s up to us to act and help.”

Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, Vice President of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Ericsson, said: “We have a long-term commitment to the refugee cause, and have been working with Refugees United since 2010 to create a mobile platform for refugees to reconnect with family and loved ones. We now want to harness some of the new innovation and technology of the developer community with this Global Hack for Good, in order to scale and amplify the great work that is already underway.

“Increasingly we see developers wanting to apply their skills for a good cause - this is a true example of Technology for Good, and we hope to see the world’s most talented developers create new ideas to serve more separated families,” she said.

The jury, including experts from both Ericsson and Refugees United, will select two finalists at each location. On World Refugee Day, June 20, 2013, a winner from each location will be announced. The three winners receive a trip to Kenya and will be invited to test their prototypes in the Kakuma refugee camp in late 2013.

The hack in Cairo: May 31st - June 1st 2013

The hack in Silicon Valley: 8th of June - 9th of June 2013

The hack in Nairobi: June 15th - June 16th 2013