The U.S Department of State (U.S. Embassy Manila, and Office of eDiplomacy) in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development, and with support from the White House, UN World Food Programme, Globe Labs, Open Data Philippines and other partners, recently held the 1st TechCamp in the Philippines.
The TechCamp was themed “Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience Building”, and had 103 participants which included DRR practitioners (NGOS, Educators, Local Government representatives, Disaster response experts) and technologists from all over the country. The TechCamp was part of the “Tech for Resilience Week” which also included two hackathons.
The focus of these events was on integrating innovative, low-cost tech-solutions, to assist the citizens of the Philippines in being better prepared to face natural disasters and other extreme events. There were some great outcomes from the TechCamp, which included innovative projects like:
Ambassador Phillip Goldberg (The US Ambassador to the Philippines), and Gloria Steele (USAID Mission Chief - Philippines and Pacific Islands), attended the closing portion of the TechCamp, and were delighted with the results. A short video highlighting the TechCamp can be found here. TechCamps are high energy events, where learning is mixed with fun – as seen in this TechCamp Philippines Harlem Shake video.
TechCamp Philippines also got some great publicity in the media including a blog by the WhiteHouse (co-authored by eDiplomacy), articles by the Government of Philippines, and reputed local newspapers like Philippines Star and Manila Journal.
The TechCamp was followed by a couple of hackathons organized by Google, the World Bank, the Philippines Open Government team, Globe labs, and Smart, in collaboration with the US Embassy Manila and USAID.
The idea behind these hackathons was to build on the discussions / concepts / tech-solutions created at the TechCamp, and implement those ideas by developing applications (both mobile and web). The first hackathon had around 50 developers, who hacked for 18 hrs developing 16 applications. The 3 winning apps were:
The winners each received a grant of 30,000 Pesos (~$700) from USAID - which will be awarded to local government units (LGUs) to customize the Apps and provide training.
The second hackathon (led by the Open Data Taskforce – Government of Philippines, and the World Bank’s Code for Resilience Team) produced 24 applications, with the following 5 winners:
TechCamp Philippines was a huge success thanks to the passion, dedication and enthusiasm of the participants and organizers. It will no doubt leave a positive mark in making the citizens of Philippines more resilient and better prepared.
Brian Forde is Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Jamie Findlater is New Media Advisor, Office of eDiplomacy, Department of State
Pritam Kabe is Technology Analyst, Office of eDiplomacy, Department of State