‘Innovating Response,’ the Beirut humanitarian ‘hackathon’ held over the weekend was won by a Kwik Response, a young team that devised a sensor for shelters to warn about fires, floods, leaks, structural stability and changes in temperature. The event, hosted by Open Source Action Network and co-sponsored by UNHCR, challenged […]
‘Innovating Response,’ the Beirut humanitarian ‘hackathon’ held over the weekend was won by a Kwik Response, a young team that devised a sensor for shelters to warn about fires, floods, leaks, structural stability and changes in temperature.
The event, hosted by Open Source Action Network and co-sponsored by UNHCR, challenged local tech enthusiasts, students and innovators to devise unique, technology-driven solutions or applications to help meet a range of challenges faced by refugees in the region as well as the communities that host them. The aim was to develop workable prototypes that could be seamlessly incorporated into humanitarian programmes.
Kwik Response was one of 12 teams that entered the event, the first of its kind in Beirut. The team won USD 3,000 as well as promise of free office space at the Beirut Digital District. Second place, and USD 1,000, went to Silah, Arabic for ‘Connection,’ an application to allow vulnerable communities to trade goods and services and connect with each other through geo-location services. Other teams devised prototypes for vaccination calendars, an app for donations, a babysitting matching service, an ATM information tool for refugees, an education app and a system for tracking changes in refugees’ phone numbers. All 12 will receive incubator assistance from Alt City, a Beirut venture supporting innovative, socially-relevant entrepreneurial initiatives.
Presenting the prizes Sunday, Philippe Lazzarini, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Lebanon, said innovation was becoming increasingly important in the humanitarian field. “We definitely need you, your creativity, your energy, your passion,” he told the teams. Mireille Girard, UNHCR Representative in Lebanon, said, “As the Syria crisis endures, the focus of the response is changing. With that comes a more complicated programme structure and management — and the scope for innovation and technology to transform and improve the provision of aid.” Halla El Ahmad from Kwik Response said the team hoped to have a product ready before the winter season in Lebanon.
The event took place at the Beirut Digital District Friday to Sunday. Other sponsors included UNICEF and OCHA. The judging panel included representatives from governments, the private sector and international humanitarian agencies.
Matthew Saltmarsh, Senior Communication Officer, UNHCR Lebanon
Tel.: +961 1 849 201 (Ext.: 2130) / Mobile: +961 79 139 992 / [email protected]