In August, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast will commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Since then, the world has seen an explosion in the development and adoption of mobile technology and new tools, enabling us to now experience disasters first-hand. Through the eyes and ears of those on the ground, we’ve all lived through each hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, wildfire, school shooting, protest and revolution. We’ve felt the fear, the loss, and the hope of those on the ground, through text, photo, and video. Armed with this information, with each disaster, communities have become more and more part of the response. Technology now connects those in need with those who want to help – a global community of neighbors, despite geographic location. Had technology been as advanced as it is today, imagine what we could have done in the days and weeks following Hurricane Katrina.
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To kick off the tenth anniversary year of Hurricane Katrina, The International Disaster Conference & EXPO (IDCE), in partnership with CODEMKRS, a locally-owned company that has produced hackathons for South by Southwest Music Festival, Super Bowl XLIII, and the White House’s National Day of Civic Hacking, will host the first annual #DisasterTech hackathon February 7-8, 2015 at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. A hackathon is an event where computer programmers, technology developers, designers and other creative thinkers collaborate in a contained environment to solve problems through technology in new and innovative ways. Leveraging lessons learned since Hurricane Katrina, the IDCE #DisasterTech Hackathon seeks to foster the convergence of the disaster and tech communities, driving innovation and opportunity for collaboration by encouraging the development of advanced and long-term solutions in the public safety and disaster space.
On a daily basis, technology facilities communication, coordination, collaboration, and real-time content exchange. In disasters, it can provide the real-time “what”, “who”, “why”, and “how” as well. This information is critical to the emergency response community’s ability to respond to and make life-saving decisions more quickly. Historically, the emergency response community has leveraged multiple data sources, including land mobile radios, maps, computer-aided dispatch, crisis management systems, traffic cameras, geographic information systems, and windshield assessments to collect information. Now responders can communicate and gather and share real-time, dynamic information across multiple new tools and platforms, such as social media, to assist in decision-making.
Challenges remain, however, that restrain the public safety community’s ability to fully benefit from this new information, with respect to the speed at which it is shared and the need for verification and application of context. Considerable research, technology development, implementation, and evaluation are necessary to truly facilitate the integration of new technologies within the disaster response arena. The IDCE #DisasterTech hackathon seeks to facilitate a partnership between tech and public safety to further develop practical and innovative solutions that solve these challenges.
Guided by first-hand input provided by the public safety and disaster response communities, participants will work together to develop open, platform-agnostic solutions and will receive input on challenges, experiences, and real-world examples from experts directly involved in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. Topics that are expected to be explored at the hackathon include: engaging the public and digital volunteers in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery; the ability to leverage information from new channels in new ways to support faster decision-making; more efficient collaboration through shared technologies and data, and more. Specific information regarding the hackathon’s problem sets will be provided to participants.
Participants will complete working prototypes of their technology products to use in conjunction with disaster preparedness, response, or recovery, and present to a panel of judges that will include local, state, federal, and private sector public safety experts, as well as leaders in technology innovation. Prizes will be announced by the end of January. The results will be presented to the IDCE attendees for discussion during the afternoon plenary on February 11 at 4pm. Winners will be announced during this session as well. Hackathon participants will receive a complimentary one-day conference registration code in order to attend the session. They are also invited to attend the after-party (free of charge) the same day at 6:15 p.m. at the Eiffel Society, 2040 St. Charles Avenue.
Registration for #DisasterTech is free, but limited to the first 50 registrants: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/disastertech-hackathon-tickets-15137705284
Rules and Guidelines can be viewed here: http://codemkrs.com/rules/
The International Disaster Conference & EXPO unites public and private sector professionals from around the world for discussions regarding policy, lessons learned, best practices, and forward thinking, resulting in the mitigation of loss of life and property when catastrophic events occur.
This year’s educational content will revolve around the theme, “Emergency Management Technology for the Future,” and fit into one of the four educational tracks which include: Resiliency (Emergency Management, Response & Recovery, Business Continuity); Technology & Innovation (Next Generation 911, Social Media, Interoperability); Public Health & Medical; and Animals in Disasters.
Registration is now open at: https://reg.internationaldisasterconference.com/2015/registration_form.cfm
A preliminary schedule can be viewed here: http://resconnola.com/about-idce/schedule-at-a-glance/