What is Humanitarian Toolbox?

Monday, June 1, 2015

 

We updated our About section to include Our Vision for what Humanitarian Toolbox is and strives to be.  You can read it below:

Humanitarian Toolbox (HTBox) is a charity supporting disaster relief organizations with open source software and services.  We are developers, designers, testers, and industry professionals who want to contribute our unique skills in disaster relief aid. Whether it is through creating apps that map the spread of disease or maintaining software that helps to optimize the delivery of relief supplies, Humanitarian Toolbox has a goal of creating software and programs for relief organizations to have ready in times of need.

What makes HTBox unique is our focus on sustainability through the use of Open Source software. Developers want to give to charity using their skills – building software. But how do you build the right thing for the right folks? HTBox deals with the requirements gathering part of the process so that developers can concentrate on development. And it’s not only for developers – there are lots of skills needed to build software beyond development.

Open Source lifts barriers for contributors and users of software, making it an ideal choice volunteer developers looking to make a difference and the organizations they need to help.  Anybody can access the software built by HTBox, whether they want to contribute to it or just take it out for a spin. Our repositories are publicly available on GitHub at https://github.com/htbox

The projects that HTBox is primarily involved with are those benefiting disaster relief organizations.  Some projects are developed from scratch, working closely with the organizations' leaders to build something unique. HTBox gathers the requirements for these project from the relief organizations, break them down into work items in GitHub and then runs code-a-thons and test-a-thons to get the software written with the help of our volunteers as well as continues to engage volunteers online via our repositories.

Other projects are build from software dveloped within a humanitarian organization during a crisis.  When the crisis is over, often the people involved in creating it move on or the software languishes on the shelf. Instead of deteriorating, HTBox takes on these projects so they can be maintained and ready for future usage.

Because much of the custom software used in disaster relief becomes outdated or is not maintained after its initial use, HTBox focuses on sustainability, applying professional software processes on the various projects to keep them current and always improving. There are many contributors to HTBox projects that work on their own time weekly, picking up work items from the repository and contributing new code. As the software is always maintained and improving, organizations are able to leverage the solutions from HTBox whenever new disasters strike.

For volunteers who want to start contributing to HTBox, we recommend signing up so that we can keep you up to date with the latest. Also you can head over to GitHub and take a look at our projects. If there are any items that you think you want to do, go for it! You’ll find work items marked “Jump In”, which means we’re looking for someone to get developing on it.

Our volunteer base is not limited to developers! It takes a lot of different skills to build great software, and we're always on the lookout for all skillsets including but not limited to designers, testers, requirements and project leaders.  Together the impact of our solutions is greatest when together we have the greatest diversity of contributors and volunteers supporting them.

Lastly, if you're interested in donating to HTBox, we are a registered 501(c)3 charity and thankful for any donations you can make to support out mission to help those in need through open source software.