The UN Influx Hackerthon


The weekend of Feb 21/22 I rather recklessly signed up for a hackerthon called “UN Influx”, which was organized by a charity, the Influx Trust. ‘Reckless’ because I was coming out of a week’s introduction to Ruby on Rails, a web framework, and about to go into the final project of my time at Maker’s.

The problem statement was this: “How can digital innovation help the UN and the public work together more effectively?” Soon after arriving at the venue, a colourful workspace across the road from Tower of London, I met Toby Beresford, who offered to let me use his “gamification platform” for any project I could think of. I pitched an idea that I thought could realistically be built in 48 hours and fortunately, found a great team.

Irina, a designer, was the first one to join the team. She had a lot of ideas about how to present on the front end. She also managed to both attend a hackerthon and move house in one weekend. Remarkable.

There was a moment after the round of pitching on the Friday, when “ideas” people (who I had somehow become) were supposed to gather a team, when I was about to give up. Then Sandra, frontend developer, offered to do the frontend and ended up doing so some technology (Meteor) she hadn’t used before. She’s also travelled to over 40 countries and introduced me to BDD (“beer driven development”).

Ozo, a programmer originating from Nigeria, doubled as architect and visionary. He very generously agreed to using my language of choice, node.js, above any he is familiar with and also put more thought than anyone else over the weekend into what we were building, why we were building it, who it as for, and how we should pitch it.

Our project, UN Frontliners, a platform for volunteers to tell their stories of working in the field, was given the “hearts” prize by a panel of judged which included a former UN Deputy Secretary General. Thanks to my team and some of the amazing mentors in attendance, I learned a lot at the UN Influx hackerthon and had a great experience. UN Influx are planning to hold another in Autumn and I recommend attending to any fellow junior devs out there.


Here’s the team with prizes.

The UN Influx Hackerthon

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