Herding Code 220: Richard Campbell on Humanitarian Toolbox

At NDC London, Jon and K Scott talk to Richard Campbell about the Humanitarian Toolbox project.

Download / Listen: Herding Code 220: Richard Campbell on Humanitarian Toolbox

Show Notes:

  • Humanitarian Toolbox
    • (01:00) Richard was the keynote speaker at NDC London, giving an update on what’s going on with Humanitarian Toolbox. There was a 2 day pre-conference hackathon, including Steve Gordon who’s been contributing for a while.
    • (02:00) Jon comments on the star power among the contributors to HT. Richard calls out Shawn Wildermuth’s contributions and how he’s been applying his version update experience from his coursework to the project. HT got its start as the example project for the Visual Studio 2015 launch.
    • (04:04) Jon remembers to ask Richard to explain what HT is: open source software for disaster relief organizations. Richard was motivated by the realization that it’s hard for software developers to donate their skills to charity because software comes with an ongoing maintenance cost.
    • (05:35) Scott asks for a description of what the software does. Richard says Humanitarian Toolbox is a collection of projects, and they’re initially focused on the allReady project. allReady started to help the Red Cross organize and coordinate smoke detector installation efforts to prevent home fire disasters. Software can help through things like mapping, mobile apps, and Twilio based notifications. Just the simple addition of reminder notifications before going out to install smoke detectors has raised their install rate from about 30% to about 80%.
    • (09:00) AllReady is an ASP.NET Core web application using some default Bootstrap theming, and could definitely use some designer help. They work with the Red Cross to provide domain expertise. They’ve had some field trials, but are just now rolling it out broadly to the field now.
    • (11:35) Scott says that it sounds like HT is a little different from the drive by pull request model that’s common in the open source world. Richard says that pull requests really should start as an issue and a discussion before the pull request. They’ve consciously grouped issues so they can be managed at hackathons as well as milestones for releases.
    • (13:12) Jon notes that many open source projects evolve a pull request at a time and often don’t have a clear high level architecture. Richard says they’ve put some effort into architecture and hosting, with the realization that they’ll probably be hosting and maintaining the applications. He says that it’s great to be able to work directly with folks like Dominick Baier for IdentityServer, Jon Skeet for NodaTime, etc.
    • (14:55) Scott asks about a point Richard had made in his keynote about all the IoT devices we’ve got, but not enough software to go around. Richard says he doesn’t want the disaster relief heroes spending money on software. They don’t understand the impact mobile and cloud can have on their work, and we can help them. He talks about the possibilities for crisis check-in and citizen disaster evaluation using things like social media for things like bridge damage evaluation. There’s so much to be done, the job requires prioritization and building things in a sustainable way.
    • (18:32) Scott asks about how people can get involved; Richard points to htbox.org.
    • (19:12) Jon doubles back to the interaction pattern Richard talked about earlier with issues leading to discussion, then pull requests. Richard also refers to the weekly hangouts, where discussion and collaboration also happen.
    • (20:39) Scott asks what kind of help they could use. Richard says they’ve got a lot of people working on the ASP.NET Core side of things, but need more mobile development help.
  • Gadgets and Idle Chatter
    • (22:00) Scott asks Richard what his latest gadgets are. Richard talks about his new Dell 43 inch 4K monitor.
    • (23:30) Jon asks about Richard’s office remodel project, including LED lighting.
    • (25:30) Scott asks Richard what he’s doing when he’s not working. Aside from running a charity, he likes to get off the grid an hike in the Himalayas.

Links: