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NYC hosts hackathon for Haiyan rebuilding efforts

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The social good hackathon featured participants from Open Sandy, FEMA, Samsung Innovation Team, Etsy, R/GA, the School of Visual Arts, and many more.

Photo courtesy of NextDayBetter

NEW YORK – In response to Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines on Nov 8, with devastating consequences, over 50 software developers, designers and strategists gathered at the Projective Space in New York City, on Nov 7, to hack for a good cause.

Organized by NextDayBetter, a social enterprise focused on Philippine-themed entrepreneurship and innovation, participants were tasked to envision, prototype and build web and mobile apps to help with the relief and rebuilding process in devastated areas in the Philippines.

The social good hackathon featured participants from Open Sandy, FEMA, Samsung Innovation Team, Etsy, R/GA, the School of Visual Arts, and many more. Participants from Manila, Orlando and Paris joined virtually.

“While everyone affected by the storm continues to push forward wtih the slow and challenging recovery process, Typhoon Haiyan has made it clear that we cannot simply rebuild what existed before,” said Ryan Letada, co-founder and chief builder at NextDayBetter. “When it comes to the sustained long-term rebuilding process of the regions affected by natural disasters, we need to be thinking different this time around, making sure that communites are resilient enough to rebound from future storms.”

The winner of the hackathon, a project called LDLN (pronounced “LandLine” and stands for Localized Distributed Logistics Network) has been invited to participate in a six-month incubation and mentorship program with Geeks Without Bounds. LDLN makes use of open source software and Raspberry Pi – a low-cost, low-powered computer that act as an information hub – in order to solve the problem of the allocation of resources and the tracking of missing individuals in the wake of natural disaster when phsyical communication infrastructure is damaged.

Raspberry PI devices on the ground allow automated syncing from offline mobile apps that can be used to collect information from survivors from an NGO field rep. Once information in recorded in the hub, daisy chained Pi hubs sync to the Internet and can integrate with any third-party data sources such as Twitter, SalvaVida, or BangonPH API.

Other projects that came out of the hackathon include: ReliefInSight, with two practical applications – Donation Arrival Time SMS and a Relief Marketplace between vendors and donors of goods, and relief agencies; SnapAid, a social initiative leveraging SnapChat to help maintain international awareness about rebuilding efforts in the Philippines; as well as Eskuwela Now, a communication tool that leverages SMS/text messages as a platform to coordinate “pop-up” schools to ease disruption of schooling during times of disasters. – Press Release/

NextDayBetter is a platform that spreads ideas and actions that make the day better. Ideas and actions are Philippine-flavored and rooted in design, entrepreneurship and innovation. We invite innovators, entrepreneurs, designers and do gooders – both Filipino and Non-Filipino – to share their stories about creating a better future

Learn more at

#BalikBayan is a project that aims to harness and engage Filipinos all over the world to collectively rediscover and redefine Filipino identity.


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