A time for giving

Use your developer powers for good this Christmas

Lucy Carey

We take a look some of the ways techies and not-for-profits are combining their expertise to make a difference – and how you can get involved.

As Stan Lee, (paraphrasing Voltaire), famously wrote, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Whilst the average developer may consider themselves more of a Peter Parker than his super heroic alter ego, your tech expertise really could make a real difference this Christmas.

From helping to shelter the homeless, to supporting data sharing, there are a myriad of ways to convert holiday downtime into a few hours of work that could change tangibly someone’s life for the better. Here are just a few ways to get involved:  

The Aimar Foundation for Crisis at Christmas

The Aimar Foundation, which guides small to medium sized char­ities in achieving their goals through effi­cient imple­ment­a­tion, applic­a­tion and util­iz­a­tion of technology, have joined forces with the homeless charity Crisis to provide the IT infrastructure for the Crisis at Christmas homeless initiative.  

By opening ten Centres around London, Crisis offers home­less people food, shelter, and warmth  over the Christmas week, as well as additional support ser­vices, ranging from learning oppor­tun­ities to housing and job advice.

All of this takes a considerable degree of tech support, and, flanked by the efforts of over 100 volunteers, since 2008, the Aimar Foundation has assisted by providing hardware, internet capabilities, and resources to support Crisis staff. This year, thousands of people in London are facing a Christmas on the streets – and the Foundation is once again revving up to help.

For those with time to spare over the holidays, there are plenty of opportunities to assist with deployment, support, and deco activities. If this sounds like a more rewarding use of your holiday than wading through endless repeats and boxes of sickly chocolate, click here.

Apps for Good

No education system can offer a one size fits all approach. For every straight A student, there are plenty of talented pupils who struggle with traditional learning methods. Apps for Good aims to democratize the educational playing field by offering creative learning programs where students use new technologies to design and make products that can make a difference to their world. Their mission is to equip students to research, design and make commercial digital products, imbuing young people with self-confidence,  collaborative skills, and a social conscience. As the organisation puts it, “Most children are consumers of technology; we want them to become makers using technology.”

This year, Apps for Good are helping steer novice programmers in the development of apps to assist dyslexics, help speech, hearing, and visually-impaired people, and alleviate the isolation of young carers. There are several ways you can get involved in the work of Apps for Good, including adopting a school, or becoming an expert mentor. Click on to learn more. 

DataKind: “Using data in the service of humanity

DataKind provides a forum to connect leading data scientists with high impact social organizations through a rigorous, collaborative approach which they believe leads to shared insights, greater understanding, and, ultimately, “positive action through data”.

Their past projects include scraping websites to collect consumption and price data to assess if more accurate and helpful real time food pricing and consumption data could be found to better understand the 2009 food crisis in Kenya, and analysing how the streams of money flooding into Washington influence the behaviour of Congress.

DataKind offers a registration service for mission-driven organizations and willing data crunchers alike, who will then be contacted when programs that match their skills or needs launch.

Image by Marthax

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