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OpenGov Voices: Using Data to Tackle Migration: #AmericasDF

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog.Kathryn Striffolino

Kathryn Striffolino is the Advocate & Science for Human Rights Project Coordinator for Amnesty International. You can follow her @katiestriff. Ella Kirchner, an intern at Amnesty, contributed to this post.

Take a moment to imagine the possibilities if you were to gather individuals with a variety of skillsets—from migration policy experts, to migrants who have experienced the oftentimes deadly journey from Central America to the U.S., to technologists — in an attempt to tackle some of the most pressing migration related issues in our own hemisphere and leveraging technology and data whilst doing so.

The weekend of November 2-3 will do just this at the Americas Datafest — a 48-hour hackathon bringing together programmers, engineers, journalists, NGOs, human rights defenders, data scientists and migration experts around the Americas region to join forces to make a difference. We will collaborate in both physical and digital spaces in over 20 locations across the hemisphere (including Washington, D.C.) with the goal of making an actual impact on migration challenges in the Americas.

Teresa Bouza, the deputy Washington, D.C. bureau chief of Spain’s global news agency EFE and a recent alumna of the Knight fellowship program at Stanford University, is the lead organizer of the Americas Datafest. (She also worked with Sunlight to organize the Bicoastal Datafest we held in February.) Microsoft Research, Facebook, Univision, Intridea and Data Community DC are some of the organizations supporting the event, that also has the strong backing of Amnesty International.

Hackathons are increasingly being utilized by local and international communities as a means to address entrenched human rights challenges.

What is the problem we seek to tackle?

The world has 214 million migrants, but without enough information and data on these migrants, no one alone can adequately tackle the challenges that migrants in our hemisphere face. Bela Hovy, chief of migration at the United Nations, told Americas Datafest in an interview that "Misconceptions about immigration can only be dispelled through getting the facts on the table.” Computer scientists, software developers, data scientists and others can help tackle the issues of getting data online and analyzing the data to better solve the issues.

Thousands of people migrate across Mexico every year, most from Central America. This is a dangerous and often deadly journey; thousands are beaten, raped, kidnapped or murdered as they make their way across Mexico. They suffer these abuses mostly at the hands of criminal drug cartels, but officials are also complicit in these crimes. Hundreds of migrants die every year along the US-Mexico border alone and many more die while crossing Central America and Mexico. The importance of gathering, analyzing and leveraging data on abuses committed against migrants cannot be overstated.

Please join us in developing solutions!

Whether in person or virtually, please join us to collaborate with others across the Americas to make a difference – write code, build apps, create tools and resources to address the migration challenges in our hemisphere. You might even win an award! The top two winning teams at each location will be nominated for a global award—judged by an esteemed panel of international judges—including Amnesty International’s Frank Jannuzi.

Americas_Datafest
Americas Datafest. (Photo credit: Amnesty International)

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OpenGov Voices: FreedomHack: A Hackathon for Good

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are Barrett_Holmes_Pitner_headshottheirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog.

Barrett Holmes Pitner is the Senior Global Editor, Cont3nt.com (one of the organizers of the FreedomHack. You can reach him at barrett@cont3nt.com @barrettpitner

This weekend, August 10-11, coders, hackers, policy experts and journalists will spend 24 hours at a hackathon feverishly working together to develop tools and products that will help those living in the most dangerous parts of the world tell their stories. This is FreedomHack.

FreedomHack 1 We have all been to hackathons and witnessed how the combination of energy, enthusiasm, intelligence, creativity and technical expertise consistently results in products that could take months to conceive in a traditional corporate structure. We understand how removing the monotony of “work” from the equation and replacing it with “fun and passion” can create brilliant results, and this is what we aim to achieve this weekend.

When the organizers of FreedomHack conceived the idea, it was just a handful of us in a room trying to figure out the best way to help these communities. A hackathon clearly rose to the top because of its inventive, spontaneous and fun structure.

From the onset, we have always referred to FreedomHack as “a hack for good.” FreedomHack will allow every participant the opportunity to have fun and work hard over one weekend for the benefit of people who live in embattled communities who desperately need your expertise.

This hackathon will focus on developing secure tools and products for those who live in parts of Mexico that have been overrun by cartel violence and human rights related issues. Citizen reporters and journalists regularly face threats on their lives and at the very least, censorship on the vital topics they are reporting.

Register for the FreedomHack hackathon.

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