Social Innovation Camp is an organisation which “brings together software developers and designers with people who understand a social problem to help build web and mobile solutions to social challenges.”
Every 6 months they have a hack weekend where the aim is to build a prototype web or mobile service which solves a social problem.
I was involved in one such weekend, where the aim was to build a service to help break the cycle of reoffending.
The service allowed people to text a number with their mobile phone, and receive information back about support services in their area. We discovered that there’s a lot of support services in an area like London, but finding out about them is difficult during times of most acute need. For instance, when finding yourself homeless on the street, it’s unlikely you’ll have a computer and 30 minutes to find the necessary contact details.
A working prototype was created in a single weekend, which used an SMS gateway called Kannel to interface with a web application built with Django, which contained a database full of contact data for London support services.
There’s a slightly competitive element to the weekend, with each team battling to create the best service in the given time. Our team came a respectable second!