Alden Mahler Levine

When you hear the word hacker, you probably don’t picture someone dedicated to solving the problems of global development.

But this weekend, self-proclaimed hackers around the world will gather at “hackathon” events to tackle disaster-risk management and climate change. The occasion is the semiannual Random Hacks of Kindness global conference, which seeks to leverage Internet data to address world problems.

Gatherings will be held in cities around the globe, from Atlanta to California’s Silicon Valley and from Basel, Switzerland, to Bogota, Colombia. The conference is the result of a 2009 collaboration by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, NASA and the World Bank, which founded Random Hacks of Kindness. (Both the organization and the events it organizes are known as RHoK.)

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