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The Hackathon: Digital Aid for Refugees

It’s fast approaching that time of year of peace on earth and goodwill to all of men, when it’s good to give a little time and thought for others and feel all warm and fuzzy inside for doing so.

So it was great this weekend for me to witness some real community spirit in action within a collective of technology enthusiasts in the tech start-up capital of Europe.

It was the latest meet-up of the #hack4good community at number26’s offices in Central Berlin, an event organised in part by our friends at webcrowd.

What was the aim of this hackathon? To create products that will help the growing numbers of people displaced from their homes who are entering the European Union.

This was a place for inner creativity to be released, for budding technologists to gain experience, for new ideas to be developed in a different environment and for new relationships to be formed.  And it was all with the common purpose of creating something that might just have an impact on one of the biggest humanitarian crises we have ever seen.

It was in some way symbolic that the offices in which this event was taking place were once used by the communist east to spy on the west, in a city not unaccustomed with human struggles and strife; a fact that didn’t go unnoticed in the introductory speech.

This event was well supported by the host, sponsors, mentors and participants; the briefing on Friday evening was the precursor for introductions and forming ideas and project teams, before the work developing their ideas into tangible products started in earnest on Saturday, continuing into Sunday.

The heavy focus on almost all the presentations on Sunday was building useful tools for refugees. The most successful ideas were the ones that either helped simplify and streamline information access for refugees or tools that enabled and incentivised volunteer work.

One great idea was for creating subtitles for learning languages from videos, whilst others looked practically at developing a management system for volunteers and a refugee coupon pdf generator.

But where will these ideas end up? It will be interesting to see if any will realise their potential and get deployed. Regardless of the outcome of this particular effort, it has to be commended.

I hope these actions will continue to inspire myself and others to come together. If anyone is inspired to do so, whether in London, Berlin or further afield, let’s get in touch!


Mark is one of our Managing Directors. To see more about Mark, including the posts that he’s written, you can find him on LinkedIn. You can also head over to our company page, where you can find all of our posts, latest jobs info, and daily posts to keep you up to date with the latest talking points in the worlds of tech and recruiting.

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