Emerging Trends | Youth
August 9, 2013

#BYND2015 Hackathon – 24 hours to hack the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

By Felicity Theaker

At the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), we are committed to connecting the world through the use of innovative technology solutions. As part of that commitment, we recognize that we are living through a time when technology is increasingly being called upon to solve, or at least aid, the social, economic and financial problems that we face today. As part of our #BYND2015 Global Youth Summit, we will be hosting a Hackathon with the support of our key partners. These include:       

While it is important to note that a lot of substantial and life-changing progress has already been made with regard to the MDGs, the deadline, 2015, is fast approaching so we need a final push to ensure that we reach our targets in order to give everyone around the world a better future. Arguably, we will only reach our goals if we continue to work hard together through collaborative initiatives and projects.

World leaders will soon be reviewing the MDGs. The time is now ripe for young people to lend their voice and provide valuable inputs that will shape the future development priorities of the world.

The #BYND2015 Summit itself encompasses this spirit as it is a platform for young people to share their vision of the world they want. This is a unique opportunity for young people to ensure their voices are heard and more importantly, included, in the policies that are going to shape their very futures.

The #BYND2015 Hackathon is a key part of this as we are actively engaging with young people and encouraging them to use technology to solve the issues that we face today. Young, enthusiastic and innovative computer coders, programmers, software developers and designers from around the world will come together to collaborate and work in teams.

Their challenge, and the vision of the Hackathon is to create and design innovative apps and other software programmes that could be implemented and used as tools for social good that could ultimately provide solutions that are relevant not only to the MDGs and the issues we face today, but also issues that are of concern in the post-2015 development scenario.

The MDG goals are:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality 
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development

The #BYND2015 Hackathon will not only raise awareness about the MDGs, but it will also highlight achievable opportunities that may have previously been missed, provide an excellent opportunity to monitor their progress and, furthermore, demonstrate the power of young people to use technology to solve problems.

You might ask how this is going to work and how you can get involved? Well, there is going to be an on-site Hackathon taking place at the Global Youth Summit in Costa Rica, 9 – 10 September. But you don’t need to be in Costa Rica to participate because there are going to be numerous off-site Hackathons taking place at the same time all around the world. As this is a collaborative event in its very nature, we are very proud and excited to announce that we will be collaborating with Coder Dojo!

Coder Dojo is a revolutionary global organization that specializes in bringing people together from all around the world, not only to teach them about coding and computer programming technology, but to inspire them to use it for social good that can be of benefit to everyone. To date we have confirmed six teams that will be taking part in the parallel Hackathon, including one in Scotland, four in Ireland and one in New York.

The prototypes that are developed will be judged on the following criteria:
–  Thematic coherence
–  Effectiveness
–  Originality
–  Use of technology and data

At the end of the session, all the teams on-site will be able to present their apps to the judges and their peers alike while engaging in further discussion. Following this, there will be a presentation ceremony where cool prizes from our partners, including hardware and devices, will be handed out to the app concept that most fulfils the criteria requirements.

The #BYND2015 Hackathon highlights the very essence of what is required from contemporary society today; a collaborative effort involving people working together on projects that are no longer constrained by physical boundaries, not only to connect people on a global scale but to attempt to implement innovative and creative technologies that can be used for social good, and ultimately, can improve the lives of millions of people.

Do you have ideas about ways to improve our world? This is your opportunity to tell us about the future you want and bring your ideas to life. Get your friends together and get ready to code!

By: Felicity Theaker

Felicity Theaker is a student at Cardiff University studying for an MA in International Public Relations and Global Communications Management, she is currently interning in the communications department at the ITU in Geneva, Switzerland. She actively supports the #BYND2015 Global Youth Summit and encourages all young people to get involved.

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