November 17, 2009 By Elaine Pittman
Building a developer community to tackle IT and communications issues related to disaster relief isn't a simple task, but when Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, NASA and the WorldBank team up, they mean business. The entities sponsored the two-day event -- called Random Hacks of Kindness (RhoK) -- in which developers tried to solve real-world disaster relief issues with technology in November at the Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, Calif.
Patrick Svenburg, senior manager of Microsoft Federal Business, said Microsoft, Google and Yahoo recognized that there's a stovepiped approach to technology because they each have their own systems. He said there were 17 different missing persons databases online during Hurricane Katrina, and "we know how to fix that."
The first RhoK hackathon -- an event where programmers get together and work on creating technological solutions to a defined set of challenges -- combined coders and subject-matter experts to address IT problems related to disaster preparedness and relief.
Go to Emergency Management's Web site, to learn more about the RhoK hackathon.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.