Help us Hack the Rainforest

Emily Jacobi
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December 12, 2014

Calling all technologists, mobile app developers and passionate civic-hackers: Digital Democracy is partnering with Seamless Planet to offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to the Peruvian Rainforest and collaborate with local indigenous leaders to design and build a mobile data collection app to empower their work to defend their territory.

What's at stake?

Across the Amazon, and rainforests around the globe, indigenous people face multiple threats, including oil contamination, pollution from mining, and deforestation. Dd is supporting local communities who are working to document and respond to oil contamination and environmental threats in the Peruvian & Ecuadorian Amazon.

Why should you go?

  1. To put your technical skills to great use! You'll help build open-source tools that can be used by people around the globe working in low-tech environments to combat environmental & human rights threats.
  2. To work directly with indigenous environmental monitors from Peru & Ecuador who are taking action to address oil contamination and environmental threats in remote parts of the rainforest.
  3. To visit the Amazon & the bustling town of Tarapoto, Peru, located in the cloud forest.
  4. To collaborate with incredible technologists & creators from around the world, including the Dd & Seamless Planet crews.
  5. (Optional) To follow-up the hackathon with a trek to Machu Picchu, heart of the Incan Empire & one of the world's most beautiful world heritage sites

Interested in joining us?

Check out the full details, itinerary and apply at Read below for the technical skills we're looking for in participants.

What will we be building in Peru? What technical expertise are we looking for?The focus of the November Hackathon is to build cross-platform tools (mobile, tablet, offline-web) for gathering and managing monitoring data from the field, which includes water sample results, photos, quantitative and qualitative data, observations and interviews. The tools need to work in an entirely offline environment.

The key challenges we are trying to address are:

  1. Improving the UX experience for users who are smart, fast learners, but who have never used a phone, tablet or laptop before.
  2. Developing a way for 2-way offline peer-to-peer synchronization between devices in the field (e.g. between a phone and a tablet with a central data store) in the field, which can later be synchronized with the web. We have been looking at: CouchDB /PouchDB, using git / GitHub as a datastore, custom levelUp solution based on CouchDB, inspired by DAT.
  3. Building offline workflows for photo and video data that needs to eventually reach a city up to 3 days away and upload using fast internet.

Would your company or organization like to be a sponsor of this hackathon? Email emily(at)ddem(dot)us.

More about our partnership

We're exciteded to partner with ethical tourism company Seamless Planet, an adventure travel company devoted to supporting local people and cultures. Dd first worked with Seamless Planet in 2012, when they led a group to climb Mt. Kilimanjoro and raise funds for Dd. In 2013, Dan & Andrew of Seamless Planet traveled with me to Yangon, Myanmar to participate in BarCamp Yangon, an annual self-organized conference of Burmese technologists. We're excited to take our collaboration to the next level, by combining a trip to one of the world's most sacred places with a hands-on hackathon that will directly benefit our programs and partners.

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Emily Jacobi
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