1. What is the Peace Corps Innovation Challenge?
The Peace Corps Innovation Challenge is a worldwide collaboration to develop innovative solutions for the real challenges faced by people throughout the developing world as identified and articulated by Peace Corps Volunteers.
Communities that have long struggled to obtain basic infrastructure such as roads, electricity, and running water are rapidly gaining access to mobile coverage with high-speed data. For some locations it’s arrived; for others, it’s around the corner. According to Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve American People (May 23, 2012), "Mobile broadband subscriptions are expected to grow from nearly 1 billion in 2011 to over 5 billion globally in 2016....In 2011, global smart phone shipments exceeded personal computer shipments for the first time in history." Given these trends, how can access to data and technology empower those in the developing world to make real improvements in their lives?
The Peace Corps Innovation Challenge is based on a simple yet powerful idea:
- Use the on-the-ground knowledge of the over 9,000 Peace Corps Volunteers who live and work in some of the most remote areas of the developing world to identify and articulate the day-to-day challenges.
- Then, empower talented and concerned citizens from around the world to work together to deliver innovative, meaningful, and practical solutions.
- Finally, make these tools easily available to all those living and working in the developing world on open-source technology platforms.
Peace Corps Volunteers around the world submit problem statements that are posted on this website. Then, do-good hackers from around the world connect with each other to start thinking about how to solve these problems with available data and resources. Their work culminates in a 48-hour global collaboration in a network of local events. Sharing unique perspectives, knowledge, and energy, teams develop their solutions and submit them by the end of the weekend. These tools will available to the public for free downloading and use. The tools will be continue to be honed, refined, and adapted through ongoing collaboration.
The Peace Corps Innovation Challenge builds on three key presidential initiatives:
- Open Government. Steven VanRoekel, the CIO of the federal government, observed: "Treating the government as an open platform…encourages innovation. Just look at how the government's release of GPS and weather data fueled billion-dollar industries. It also makes government more efficient and able to adapt to inevitable changes in technology."
- Use of competition and prizes to engage innovators and entrepreneurs. In his Strategy for American Innovation, President Obama called on agencies to increase their use of prizes and challenges to mobilize America’s ingenuity to solve some of our nation’s most pressing issues. The OMB issued a formal policy in March 2010 and, in September of 2010, the administration launched challenge.gov, a “one-stop shop where entrepreneurs and innovators can find and engage with public sector prizes.” Since 2010, over 150 competitions have been launched by 45 federal agencies.
- Move to mobile technologies. Acknowledging what is described as the “rapidly changing mobile landscape,” President Obama issued a directive on May 23, 2012, to make key government services accessible through mobile devices and charged the federal CIO with developing a plan for a "21st century digital government."
Not at all. While there was a hackathon on June 1-2, this is an ongoing challenge to the Peace Corps community to make the Peace Corps ever more innovative and to bring innovation to communities worldwide.3. What kinds of challenges can be submitted?
Real problems that can be solved through better access to information/data, information technology, or resources. See examples on the
Well-defined problem statements that have a clear owner and process for being tested and used will likely be most compelling to the coding community. Making and posting a short video that describes the problem will also help your challenge get noticed. And if you can attend an event, you can rally around your problem to get people excited about solving it. Make it real and stay involved.
Please see the RHoK Problem Statement Guide for tips on how to write a good problem statement.
Random Hacks of Kindness is a global community of innovators building practical open-source technology to make the world a better place. RHoK and its global network of content and technology experts are helping the Peace Corps to solve challenges at some 30+ local coding events. Everyone can get involved at the local level to be the voice of the Peace Corps and your communities.
Go to www.rhok.org/events to find out if an event is being held in your country or area and to register. If there isn't an event near you, consider organizing an event yourself, or you can attend virtually.
Go to www.rhok.org/events/planning-kit to get tips on how to organize an event, including how to get sponsors, logistics, and planning.
Yes. Find some compilations here.
Yes. Check out a few here.