Sheltr.org stars at Random Hacks of Kindness Philadelphia [VIDEO] - Technical.ly Philly

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Dec. 5, 2011 10:00 am

Sheltr.org stars at Random Hacks of Kindness Philadelphia [VIDEO]

After a reception Friday night at Indy Hall to gather ideas, including the concept for Sheltr, attendees met at Drexel for a weekend of developing, designing and deploying. Late Sunday afternoon, a panel of four judges, including this reporter, highlighted three of the projects.

Presenting at the second Random Hacks of Kindness in Philly in December 2011 at Drexel University. This is the Sheltr.org group, from L to R: Salas Saraiya, Robert Cheetham, Casey Thomas, Cheyne Rood, Mike Ball, Gabriel Farrell and Bula.

Sheltr.org, a mobile-friendly, web application to display nearby housing and food services for needy residents, was the featured tool at Random Hacks of Kindness hackathon held over the weekend at Drexel University.

The tool, built by a volunteer team of seven developers and designers, launched Philly.Sheltr.org, using available homeless intake facility information and a meal-providers data set collected by the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, said team members.

A representative of the city’s Office of Supportive Housing, who was contacted over the weekend by the team, said the department was interested in supporting the project, which could be used by service providers and the general public to more accurately direct distressed members of the street homeless population.

Sheltr was one of six projects created by nearly 40 participants, which also included non-developers, during the second local version of the global hack weekend led by a smattering of tech giants, like Google, NASA and the World Bank. This weekend, Random Hacks events were held in 34 cities, including Philadelphia. Locally, the event was hosted by Drexel University, led by PhD student Michael Brennan and sponsored by Voxeo Labs, CloudMine and, full disclosure, Technically Philly.

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Above, a representative of SecondMuze, a consulting firm on the Random Hacks project, discusses its origins.

After a reception Friday night at Indy Hall to gather ideas, including the concept for Sheltr, attendees met at Drexel for a weekend of developing, designing and deploying. Late Sunday afternoon, a panel of four judges, including this reporter, highlighted three of the projects.

  1. Sheltr was given Best in Show. That team featured Salas Saraiya, Robert Cheetham, Casey Thomas, Cheyne Rood, Mike Ball, Gabriel Farrell and Bula.
  2. Cuibono, an as-yet-unreleased mobile app that is using open source tonal software, was awarded Best Concept, for its planned functionality to record a campaign ad, recognize it and then share vital information about it, including its funding and research around its accuracy. See the group‘s slides here.
  3. A Climate Data Aggregator tool, which is a simple map interface that allows a user to click on any global location and see average temperature analysis, was awarded Most Complete, for fully meeting the request of the World Bank.

The other three tools were (a) the Cost of Freedom web tool that scrapes information about how voters can have the necessary identification to vote in states that require it, (b) the Neighborhood Voice tool that is a Reddit-style prioritization add-on to the city’s Change by Us civic action tool and (c) Hack2Unify, which was a three-city partnership to build an ‘eHarmony for pro bono project collabroation.’

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Christopher Wink

Christopher Wink is a cofounder and Editorial Director of Technical.ly, the local technology news network. In that capacity, he is a co-organizer of Philly Tech Week, Baltimore Innovation Week, Delaware Innovation Week and other events that bring smart people together. Previously, Wink worked for a homeless advocacy nonprofit and was a freelance reporter for a variety of publications. He writes regularly about news innovation and best business practices on his personal blog here and curates a personal monthly newsletter of ideas and links here. The bicycle commuter loves cities, urban politics and squabbling about neighborhood boundaries.

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