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‘Random Hacks of Kindness’ uses technology to solve problems

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Lucy Nicholson/Reuters/File

(Read caption) A man walks past a Google logo drawn with chalk on a wall at a Google campus near Venice Beach, in Los Angeles. Employees at Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and other technology companies volunteer for 'Random Hacks of Kindess,' helping solve problems for groups trying to do good.

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Programmers in San Francisco and Berlin got together recently to attempt to build a system that would allow immigrants to tell their families they’ve arrived safely at their destination without anyone else finding out.

In Nairobi, a similar group worked on a system to report election results in real time, including incidents of election violence and accusations of voter fraud.

In Toronto, others worked on a system that could allow Nepali women to send ultrasound pictures via mobile devices.

All of them were volunteers, willing to lend their technological expertise to nonprofits and causes.

These projects and others were part of the “Random Hacks of Kindness” weekend, a twice-yearly, 36-hour work session for designers, programmers, and technology experts to solve problems facing nonprofits and other organizations interested in doing good. The most recent events, held this month in 25 cities worldwide, drew 900 participants, according to organizer SecondMuse, a consulting firm that works with companies and individuals on better ways to collaborate.


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