The hackathon winners and their prize. The hackathon winners and their prize.

Campus Party hackers break Guinness record

20,000 programmers create 265 projects designed to combat poverty

Computer programmers and hackers at this year’s Campus Party Mexico broke a Guinness record, and in the process came up with 265 proposals to combat poverty.

The week-long, annual event in Zapopan, Jalisco, which wrapped up yesterday, was the sight of a hackathon, where Campus Party’s 20,000 participants engaged in a collaborative programming effort to create projects to fight poverty.

Not only was a Guinness record at stake but a 1-million-peso first prize, which went to a team from Guanajuato called Brainiacs. The winning proposal was called Nodi, a free, text-based communications service intended to overcome connectivity shortcomings in remote communities.

By the end of the event, participating teams had created 265 viable proposals, beating the previous record of 250 to get the Guinness win.

The Brainiacs team will also receive some expert advice in the set-up and operation of their budding new company.

“We had been raising funds for a year but [money] was running out. It was then that we decided to risk it all at the Campus Party,” explained team leader Javier Dávila.

The Brainiacs team had been engaged in designing internet-connected sensors and was just a step away from figuring out how to apply their knowledge to help combat poverty.

The result was a cheap and easy-to-use service based on viper text, whose strongest point, said Dávila, “is that it’s based on a free frequency . . . we’re saving in connectivity. [The device] can also have a solar panel on its back, enabling communication and education for the people.”

The device has possibilities in health, education, public safety, communications, financial inclusion and environmental protection, among many other activities that promote employment and income generation.

The prize money represents the first step for the programmers because “in the hardware industry it’s a small amount . . . we can spend up to 300,000 pesos just in initial prototypes. It’s not a lot but it’ll help us take off.”

Next year’s Campus Party is expected to draw 25,000 programmers, and the promoters hope to end up with as many as 600 viable projects.

Source: Forbes México (sp), Milenio (sp)

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