Hacking for Disaster Resilience in Peshawar, Pakistan

Hacking for Disaster Resilience in Peshawar, Pakistan

In Pakistan, natural disasters like earthquakes and monsoon floods claim thousands of lives each year.  Millions more are affected, and billions of Pakistani rupees worth of infrastructure is damaged as a result of such calamities. Take, for example, the floods of July-August 2010 that affected 20 million people and claimed several thousand lives. Or the earthquake of October 2005 that killed almost 78,000 people and disrupted the lives of 2.5 million more..

Advanced technologies that can help predict calamities like earthquakes and floods, and enable people at risk to take precautionary measures in time. For a developing country like Pakistan, this is not a job the government can tackle alone. Every citizen has to step forward to build disaster resilient communities. With the right information made available at the right time, we can reduce the impact of these disasters on our society.

To strengthen communities’ resilience to natural disasters, Code for Resilience—an open innovation challenge supported by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR)—partnered with the Khyber Pakhtunkwa Information Technology Board, the University of Engineering and Techology-Peshawar, the World BankCode for PakistanPeshawar 2.0, and the Water and Sanitation Program to engage civic hackers in developing solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing Peshawar city in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province of Pakistan.

Hacking for Disaster Resilience in Peshawar, Pakistan
The winning teams

The three-day Peshawar Civic Hackathon was attended by 89 participants who were organized into 23 teams. Several government agencies, including the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and FATA Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) joined the Hackathon, providing their problem statements—some of which are available at www.CodeForResilience.org. Civic hackers then put together their ideas on how technology-based tools might address these problems. A total of five teams dedicated their time toward creating disaster resilience related solutions.

Over the course of the three-day event hackers received a variety of support. Already available software tools that could be easily redeployed were highlighted through the “app” repository on the Code for Resilience website. Representatives from the PDMA and FDMA were also available at specific times to answer questions from the teams. And mentors were provided to help the teams with technical aspects of building their solutions.

Teams developing disaster resilience tools were also given individual brainstorming sessions on the Code for Resilience Online Innovation Challenge, which is designed to provide additional time and support to civic hackers to take their solutions to a new level with the support of expert mentors. Grand prizewinners of the challenge will be awarded an all expenses paid trip to pitch their tools to an audience of disaster risk management experts gathering for the Understanding Risk conference in London this July. Each team was given a demo on how to create an account on the Code for Resilience website using GitHub, and how to submit the application for Online Innovation Challenge on the first day.

Hacking for Disaster Resilience in Peshawar, Pakistan
Day 2 at KPHacks

Among the 20 total teams who made it through to the final day of the event, four teams were working on a disaster resilience related problem statement. After the marathon development session, each team was given four minutes to demonstrate their application. Five judges with rich backgrounds in relevant fields evaluated the “apps” keeping in mind criteria such as: problem-solution fit, potential impact, prototype and ease of deployment. The official criteria by which apps were rated were published on the official hackathon webpage a few days prior to the event.

The Minister of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Technology Board (KPITB), the host of the event, attended the award ceremony along with the Managing Director of KPITB and Vice Chancellor of the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Peshawar.

Hacking for Disaster Resilience in Peshawar, Pakistan
Official Merchandise for the event

The eight winning applications are:

  • First Place: Smart Life Saver
  • Second Place*: Messiah, an Android application that sends emergency alerts to a bounded network of family and friends at the push of a button.
  • Third Place*: Rehnuma, an SMS-based government information portal that connects citizens to key government services, including emergency services.
  • Audience Favorite: Instant Appointments
  • The Aitzaz Hasan Prize for Education: Schools Ka Ehtisaab
  • Best Disaster Resilience App*: Disaster Survey Management (DSM), a smart phone-based tool that provides a way to conduct quick and efficient digital surveys about housing needs of populations that had previously been displaced by conflict.
  • Best Open Source Redeployment: Rotti Kapra Makan
  • Best App for Government Problem Statements: No Kunda

* – Indicates a tool created in response to a disaster resilience problem statement.

From the winning teams, three will be offered six-month fellowship opportunities at KPITB.

The PDMA and FDMA showed their interest in continuing their support for the teams to launch their pitched solution.

The Peshawar Civic Hackathon demonstrates how, through innovative solutions and collaboration between local developers and responsible government agencies, the hard task of creating more disaster resilient communities can be made possible.

Originally posted on http://codeforresilience.org/

December Sunset by Heyyn

December Sunset by Heyyn Coming Soon

It’s a great feeling to tell you about the first ever original music work by Heyyn that is coming out by the end of next month. Heyyn is the same band that I founded with a few other friends living here in Islamabad. We’re more into Sufi, Classical, Folk and Jazz. We will be collaborating with other artists and are really looking forward for the release. This is going to be the the first step of our musical journey. Can’t wait to have your say :)

December Sunset by Heyyn

Goodbye and Thank You Sachin

Goodbye and Thank You Sachin

When I turned on my laptop this morning, the first thing in my mind was to write a few words about the cricketing god, the little master, the man alone with so many records a whole cricket team couldn’t even get there in ages;  the one and the only – Sachin Tendulkar! 4 hours later, my post area in the editor was still empty. A thousand things were going in my mind but I was unable to write a single word. I just didn’t know where to start. I had collected my guts to write about someone who has such tremendous authority over a game with his exceptional talent that my words won’t even qualify to make sense. If you firmly believe one cannot exaggerate this much on someone who is so close to ones heart, you might be getting a little idea what I am talking about.

The love for Sachin is so obvious. Even for a fan of his opponent team, there exists a rather silent support which ultimately comes out at a point; because one cannot lie to himself for long. The fact that Sachin taught millions to love cricket cannot be defied. He stepped into the game at a time, that was foundation of an evolution. The game of cricket after his arrival has changed to a greater extent and the contributions made by the little master cannot be described in this small post by a single person.

Goodbye and Thank You Sachin

Sachin, through his talent and strong will power, has achieved such milestones that an individual cricketer cannot dream of. He has been a team in himself. He has been tremendous. He has been a thousand miles better from what a fan could ever expect a star to be. He is the man who has made his work speak for him!

There is so much to be said but I am afraid, as I mentioned earlier, if my words qualify to praise Sachin. I would end this small tribute to the living legend of cricket by quoting two people who don’t need any introduction either.

“Sachin Tendulkar is Muhammad Ali and the Michael Jordan of cricket”. - Brian Lara.

“There will not be another Sachin Tendulkar” - Shane Warne 

Millions out there are paying their respect in their own way as Sachin Tendulkar’s last test match in on its way. I join you all by saying THANK YOU SACHIN.

Originally published on Cricket Knock.

Green Flag on the Top of the World

Green Flag on the Top of the World

It has been over a month now that I am following the first ever Pakistan Gender Equality Expedition initiated by Pakistan Youth Outreach in association with a few foreign sponsors. Among others, the expedition includes two siblings from Shimshal Hunza in Gilgit Baltistan.

Today, I found the news on Facebook that both the siblings Samina Baig and Mirza Ali were able to successfully reach the summit of Mount Everest. This is such a huge news but unfortunately not yet covered by any mainstream media. This makes Samina Baig the youngest and only female mountaineer from Pakistan to conquer the highest mountain in the world. Also, Mirza Ali, who is a professional mountaineer, becomes youngest male mountaineer from Pakistan to reach Mount Everest Summit.

Samina Baig (21) and Mirza Ali (29) set out for the expedition last month. Mirza Ali used to send messages through his satellite phone while the receiver updated his personal blog. The last time I checked his blog the team had reached camp IV and were expecting to reach summit by 19th or 20th May. Finally at 7:40 AM Local Time they did it!

Green Flag on the Top of the World

Congratulations and many prayers for a safe return.

I made this poster for Spectacular Pakistan.

“As a part of a Gender Equality Expedition by Pakistan Youth Outreach, two siblings from The Hunza Valley Samina Baig (21) and Mirza Ali (29) have reached the summit of Mount Everest (8,848m) on Sunday May 19, 2013) 7:40 AM Local Time.” – Spectacular Pakistan