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‘Geek Squad’ Coders

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Tech millionaire gathers 'geek squad' coders to develop humanitarian apps

“If the geeks are to inherit the Earth, it’s positive that many are turning their coding skills to humanitarian ends – from voter e-registration to disaster management apps”. This article, featured in the Guardian Sustainable Business, provides a wonderful insight into the power of coding. Oliver Balch, the article’s author, introduces us to a brand new type of ‘hackathon’ – one where whole families are invited, and where the focus is “to help solve some of the world’s most intractable problems.”

Code for India, “under the strapline ‘think global, hack local’, hopes to encourage one million programmers to donate their time for humanitarian ends.” The tech skills across Silicon Valley are extraordinary, and Karl Metha, Founder of Code for India knew this first hand, having sold his start up for $240m to Visa in 2011. While investing in some incredible social start ups, Code for India was the result of the Hurricane Sandy. When it hit, alongside some fellow coders, he built “a map-based app that would direct drivers to functioning petrol stations in New York and New Jersey. Within ‘just a couple of hours’, it was up and running.”

This impressive start was just what Metha needed to spur the idea for Code for India, tying in tech skills with global social problems. Like Metha, many tech ‘geeks’ ” would rather make an impact on the world through their tech talent, which they can do sitting at their desks.”

Oliver closes, sharing Metha’s fear that India could give the wrong impression: “My vision is really for a code for the universe.” We share Oliver’s sentiment that “that level of ambition is what makes millionaires. It could soon be making for a better world too.”


Thanks to Oliver Balch and the Guardian for drawing our attention to such an innovative programme, and one that truly gets the best out of the tech industry’s skills. We at Markets For Good see such potential for innovation in data use for charities through this programme, so be sure to follow them both on Twitter, and let us know what you think. What problems should ‘Code for India’ focus on next?