On the 2nd and 3rd July, The Filter took part in dev4good, a charity event where developers get together to come up with solutions that will help advance charitable causes. The Filter team was made up by Senior Software Developer Neil Andrassy, Software Developer Trevor Reeves, and the newest addition to the company, Steven Reid.
The event was hosted by the Auriol Kensington Rowing Club and lasted for two whole days, bringing together talented volunteers keen to help out charities like The Ministry of Stories and Hope and Play. The way their work would help to shape the lives of people in need really inspired the team:
“One of the things that really struck me about the work Hope and Play do in Gaza was that they were helping kids who never had an opportunity to actually be kids. The incidence of post-traumatic stress syndrome in children in Gaza is ridiculously high – nearly every kid has witnessed something that a kid really shouldn’t need to. Providing them with a place to play seemed like such a simple idea that could make a massive difference to their lives – a tiny fragment of ‘normality’ from which they could start to build a future,” says Neil.
Details of the projects were only disclosed at the start of the event, when teams started to form spontaneously and the serious work began.
“We put together a prototype web-based system providing a central portal for charities working in the Gaza strip area to communicate the projects they are running, and in which locations. This was combined with a system allowing organisations to advertise their need for and availability of resources via SMS, Twitter and a web client,” Explains Trevor
The way the system works is by connecting needs with offers of items or services using magic hashtags. So if one user tweets “#magictag I need 6 steel poles” and another “#magictag I’ve got 4 long steel pipes”, The Twitter client would automatically attach the location of both Tweeterers to their respective posts, allowing them to contact each other without the need to register. Pictures can also be attached using services such as yfrog, and the system does the job of spotting good matches based on keywords and locations. It then forwards the details of the “got” to those with a “need”, who can then contact them directly and make arrangements for delivery/collection either via Twitter or the service’s website. It could prove incredibly helpful in getting crucial resources to the people who need them the most in the stricken region, as well as connecting volunteers to the places and projects where they can make the most difference.
“They did an amazing job” says Dev4good organizer Craig Hogan; The Filter team, together with two other developers Dave Hawes and Ivan Zlatev, worked on the project – which was dubbed “Boil the Ocean” throughout the weekend. “We were not expecting anyone to even start,” enthuses Hogan.