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Hackathon winners turn heads at UNHCR headquarters

Since the Hackathon for Humanitarian Aid took place in February, the organising parties and winning teams have not been sitting on their hands. Innovative and refreshing ideas resulted from a weekend of hard work at the PwC offices in Amsterdam. Aid workers, policy makers, data analysts, engineers and other disciplines combined forces to bring innovation to the humanitarian sector. The goal was to give people in crisis situations a voice and to generate information directly from those affected.

The winning teams, Seeing Hunger and Dreamcatcher, did exactly that and were given the opportunity to further develop their pitch and prototype before flying to the UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva, to pitch to the most important Innovation stakeholders. Together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, University of Leiden and PwC, the teams embarked on an exciting adventure and worked alongside their full-time jobs to prepare for the big day. It was truly inspiring to see all the individual members of the groups contribute their expertise and experience and as a whole grow closer every week. Thankfully their hard work paid off. 

On Thursday 18 May, early in the morning, the group met at Schiphol Airport. Excited and committed as ever to deliver the best pitch, attract the attention and to push the boundaries within UNHCR. Team Seeing Hunger delivered an amazing pitch on the contribution of chatbots in processing the huge amount of social media messages that organisations such as UNHCR receive on a daily basis. They have been offered the opportunity to contribute to a report that UNHCR will be compiling on this topic and have been put in touch with UNHCR field operations in the MENA region that are exploring the opportunities presented by using chatbots. Team Dreamcatcher had developed an innovative concept for an application that enables people located in areas without connectivity to anonymously report on issues they are facing in times of crisis. The concept outlines how reports would be encrypted and send to the humanitarian response community, by using mobile appliances of other people through mesh networking. Their pitch turned many heads and led to a lot of discussion. UNHCR has offered to connect the team with relevant stakeholders within the humanitarian community, as well as other private sector partners, to develop the idea further. In addition, later in 2017 UNHCR will create a clear articulation of the challenges it faces when establishing such a platform. In doing so, UNHCR will unpack the proposed Dreamcatcher solution into specific modules, thereby highlighting the context and political challenges around each as well as the creation of such a platform broadly.

We would like to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Leiden University and UNHCR for their commitment to making this Hackathon happen. And finally a special thank you to the team members of Seeing Hunger and Dreamcatcher for their hard work and enthusiasm over the past couple of months.

Contact us

Anton Koonstra

PPM Competency Leader
(Netherlands), PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)65 150 10 46

Sanne Maas

Manager, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)62 059 53 55

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