Impact Hub Geneva teams up with THE Port and the Dutch mission in Geneva to organize a Hackathon aimed at tackling the most pressing Human Rights challenges. Here is an overview of the event and a case of social innovation in action.
Taking the plunge
When traditional problem solving methods fail, organizations seek innovative solutions. And when Bert Koenders, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, turns to us in a plea: “We need you, we need innovation for the cause of human rights!”, Impact Hub Geneva responds with a DiploHack!
The Human Rights DiploHack brought together 60 social entrepreneurs, hackers, designers, human rights experts and diplomats on February 26th through 27th, who spent two full days in the Geneva Hub tackling challenges presented by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). They were designing innovation-driven solutions that will have a direct impact on people’s lives from around the world, or as Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, put it – “This small group of individuals hacked into the future where rights are respected.”
The results were presented at a side event of the 31st Council for Human Rights at the UN on Monday, February 29th for the Deputy Commissioner of Human Rights and Bert Koenders himself.
48 hours of social innovation
During the 48-hour sprint, four teams of DiploHackers had to deal with two tasks presented by the OHCHR (full list of participants here).
The participants were asked to create practical and innovative tools for speeding up content verification processes as well as facilitating an upgrade in collection and safe transfer from the field to the UN. After ingesting liters of coffee and burning the midnight oil, here is what the DiploHacker teams came up with (scroll down for the concept infographics!)
1. PICTRUE – a machine learning algorithm that enables sorting out visual content and identifying human rights violations.This tool has been designed to turn the tide and prevent officers from getting buried with ever-growing volumes of data.
2. GET THE PICTURE – a false filter implemented in an online file browser enabling identification and sorting of manipulated data files (photos /videos). This filter allows speedy processing through data trustworthiness assessment.
3. FIRST DEFENDER TOOLKIT – 1 high-tech, single-use satellite transmission box and a low-tech classical mailbox set in busy locations with a guarantee of anonymity.
4. TEAM4EVIDENCE – a website and an app called commUNicate, facilitating easy and safe communication with the UN.
After having spent months in preparation for the event, Felix Stähli of Geneva ImpactHub reflects on the road that led up to it:
‘When we are losing hope in our own ability to solve a social challenge that persists and seems too complex to solve, we have to ask ourselves: have we really done everything in our power to tackle it effectively? Have we exhausted all remedies – all the tools, all the expertise, and all the methodologies that are available to us? Have we been bold enough to ask ourselves the questions that actually matter? The root of the problem lies within our own thinking: we tend to limit the freedom and creativity of our mind and therefore fail to see challenges from a different perspective.’
The DiploHack was the first event of its kind that involve agencies like the UN and OHCHR and its success is truly promising. Kate Gilmore pledged her commitment to doing everything possible to further develop innovative approaches to problem-solving within the OHCHR together with other stakeholders, while Bert Koenders emphasized the necessity for this mission to be pursued and encouraged to use innovation and disruptive transformation and dust off the old-fashioned patterns in protecting Human Rights.
Let it serve as an inspiration for impactful social innovation, strengthening partnerships and further collaboration in the future!
Check out the image gallery here.