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Superstorm Sandy 'hurricane hackers' gather to help

Geeks around the world are uniting this weekend to help create technology that will aid in storm recovery.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Contributing editor Eric Mack covers space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Eric Mack
2 min read
Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

A new kind of digital activist has emerged from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy this week -- the hurricane hacker.

This weekend, an in-person "Sandy CrisisCamp" will take place in Boston, cities on the West Coast, and even New Zealand. The events are basically set up as cross between a hack-a-thon and a workshop where geeks come together to design and code projects that can help local communities prepare for and cope with crisis.

Among some of the projects CrisisCampers will be working on are crowdsourcing tools to categorize images for building damage, allowing FEMA to prioritize its efforts, and a simple Google doc that attempts to keep track of all the sources of Sandy recovery data in a single place.

This weekend's CrisisCamps are free and open to the public. Volunteers are encouraged to attend in person, and those who can't show up but are involved in on-the-ground recovery efforts are also invited to get in the e-mail loop to coordinate with the hacking efforts.

The camps are related to a group called Hurricane Hackers started at MIT's Media Lab that has been helping to coordinate community aid efforts via Twitter, and has already produced the site Sandyslist, a simple hub for linking people with resources to help with those in need.

In addition to the projects in progress and the in-person camps, there are plenty of other resources online for altruistic hackers, including a Github folder, an IRC channel, and even a Turntable.FM room to jam to while hacking the superstorm of the century.

If you're not the hands-on helpful type but still want to get involved via your wallet, there's even a geeky way to do that. A number of crowdfunding sites are getting in the act by waiving their normal project fees for campaigns that help with Sandy recovery.