We've posted several blogs about the various ways Google geo tools have contributed to disaster relief efforts. Last year, Direct Relief created a KML of health centers in the wake of Cyclone Nargis. More recently, UNOSAT used Map Maker data during the western Africa floods.

Mapping technologies may be central to understanding and responding to disasters, but many other technologies--such data-feed mechanisms, people finders, and reporting & communication tools--are necessary as well. With this in mind, we're partnering with The World Bank to host the first-ever Random Hacks of Kindness codejam.

The ultimate goal of Random Hacks of Kindness is to save lives. Random Hacks of Kindness will bring technologists and relief workers together to develop technologies that enable disaster victims to help themselves and give first responders and aid workers the tools they need to better help victims--to reduce loss of life and to speed recovery.

Over the course of two and a half days, speakers like FEMA Chief Craig Fugate will expound on the mission, subject matter experts will brief self-organized teams on specific problems, a great deal of coffee will be consumed, and code will be written. Teams will have the opportunity to port their solutions down to Camp Roberts near Paso Robles, CA, where it will be tested in field simulations to provide real-time feedback for multiple iteration cycles.

We hope RHoK generates software solutions that help users predict, prevent, and respond to disasters—but, realistically, we know that coding over a single weekend is only a start. That’s why the codejam in November is the first RHoK, but not the last. In and effort to encourage the developer community to adopt disaster response as a mission, we’ll hold a RHoK event every six to twelve months—sharing learnings from actual events, building on ongoing efforts, and collaborating on promising new technologies.

Join us! The codejam will take place from November 12-14 at the Hacker Dojo, located in Mountain View, CA. Invitations to developers will go out shortly, so if you're interested in coding, serving as a subject matter expert, or sponsoring the event, please visit www.randomhacksofkindness.org.

Posted by Jeff Martin, Google Crisis Response Team