We've just returned from our latest #peacehack, this time in Athens in collaboration with the US Embassy in Greece, Impact Hub Athens and the Onassis Cultural Center, to use technology and creativity to help alleviate and address some of the issues around the influx of refugees into Greece, which has become the major entry point of refugees and asylum seekers entering the EU whilst dealing with it's own economic crisis.
We had well over 300 applications to be part of the hack, and after some necessary pre-selection, we had over 180 people from all walks of life (not just developers, but creatives, project managers, architects and planners, other relevant NGOs etc) join us and a large group of volunteers to "Meet the Hackers" where we started setting out problem statements and ideas formed. At the end of the first night alone we had over 35 different ideas to refine on the 2nd day, some of which are encapsulated in this photo. Speakers at the event included the US Ambassador to Greece, Geoff Pyatt and Head of Head of Public Relations & CSR, Microsoft in Greece, Cyprus and Malta, Timos Platsas.
The format of this hack is different to previous ones. It is essentially in two parts; part one in October formulates the ideas and gives the hackers an opportunity to get help from a whole array of mentors and refugees to help shape their ideas, whilst part two (which takes place between 2-4 December) will see some of those ideas come to fruition. Between now and December, teams will need to submit their ideas and the organising committee will select which ideas get through to the final stage. Microsoft have also sponsored the event and will be giving funding and support to the 3 best ideas to take them forward.
One of the highlights for us was a "Dragon's Den" style session where members of each group faced a panel of refugees. What was evident was whatever the preconceptions of the participants, the one who know the issues and problems the best and know which ideas will make an impact the most are those direct beneficiaries – the panel certainly didn't hold back in making that known!
The twitter hashtag #HackTheCamp was trending in Greece over the weekend.
We'll share some of the final ideas in late November, but in the meantime, check out some of the pictures of the event below.