At the Water Hackathon Reception

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[More less transcription of the speech I gave today]

Thank you very much for the invitation to join the Kick-off of the Water Hackathon.

The topic at hand is extremely important. Water is essential, yet billions of people face aggravating challenges with water Quality, Quantity or even basic Access to it.

The Challenge here is to help solve these real identified problems with pragmatic software-based solutions. And I know, we know, that we can make great contributions. We, particpants, as many as we are, we are not alone, as you can see. This event has the support of the World Bank, NASA, governments, Universities and companies around the world. Why? Because it’s working. The growth of this movement is based on its success, which I see is based on 3 ingredients.

Data. I personally find it amazing that we know so much about the world. Because much of it is OpenData, everyone can see what we know, and what we know we don’t know (gaps in the data). Data is the first step. If you understand the data, what does it say, what are the gaps, what would we need to know, here is our call to join.

Technology has evolved tremendously in the last few years. We can do now things we din’t even imagine possible a few years ago. Indeed, this is one of the points of the Hackathon, what many of us didn’t know it’s already doable. Further, access to Information is growing very fast. Internet appeared after many of us were born and now more than 2 billion people have access to it. And if we realize that we can now channel information both ways via text messages, we can reach roughly half the world population. If you know how to access data more easily, how to make it relevant, how to visualize it, how to connect needs and haves, here is our call to join.

Data and Technology breed on each other. Technology helps us create, understand and use Data; and Data needs keep pushing the envelope for what is possible with Technology (hence the advocacy to use OpenSource, so that everyone can do it). In my work at the Global Adaptation Institute we understood this since the beginning. OpenData and OpenSource was indeed a key element for creating, in our case, a measure of resilience to Climate Change.

The last ingredient, the  most important, is you. You who understand the challenges we face with water, you who understand the Technology.  When Apps4Development was launched, on a very similar fashion to this, I was thrilled. I literally met with a couple of friends, a blackboard, a laptop and some beers: “We can do it, what can we do?”.  And we did an app that actually was among the winners. My point being, you can help. We can help. Together we will realize we could do amazing things. Amazing things that matter and are vital to billions of people. What more motivation you want?

The World needs more Hackathons, so thank you everyone for making this possible.

[caption id=”attachment_2069” align=”aligncenter” width=”540” caption=”Picture by Courtney Cease”][/caption]

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