Following the success of the Facebook-led “Hackathon” in California last November that sought to draw attention to the plight of undocumented immigrants, a group of bloggers and techies will gather in Miami at the end of the month for a similar event aimed at exposing the problems with Cuba’s telecommunications system.
From connectivity, to censorship, costly service and the lowest cell phone and Internet penetration rates in the Western Hemisphere, developers and other tech experts hope to use the “Hackathon for Cuba” to help create smart phone apps and other technologies that could allow Cubans to have greater access to information on the island.
“There is a great demand in Cuba for applications that work without access to the Internet and technological tools that improve the everyday life of Cuban people," Natalia Martínez, the chief innovation and technology officer at the Miami Beach-based nonprofit Roots of Hope (Raíces de Esperanza), which has run a Cell Phones for Cuba campaign since 2009, told the Miami Herald.
The hackathon, which is organized by Roots of Hope and backed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will also feature an appearance by Cuban dissident blogger, Yoani Sánchez, either in person or via Skype.
Organizers are not expecting to make any major breakthroughs at the one day event, but do want to raise awareness of the problems of navigating around Cuban government controls over the Internet.
“The problem with Cuba is the connectivity is controlled by the government and very limited,” developer José Pimienta told the Herald. “A solution that allows people with computers to share among themselves without being detected would be helpful. ... This peer-to-peer communication could become a hub of information.”