Israel techies to brainstorm ideas for tackling Australia bush fire challenges
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Israel techies to brainstorm ideas for tackling Australia bush fire challenges

15-hour hackathon hopes to find solutions to water contamination, monitoring air quality, caring for displaced animals and fireproofing for crucial infrastructure

Do images such as these, of a kangaroo jumping in a field amidst smoke from a bushfire in Snowy Valley Australia, encourage people to act on climate change? (SAEED KHAN / AFP,  January 4, 2020)
Do images such as these, of a kangaroo jumping in a field amidst smoke from a bushfire in Snowy Valley Australia, encourage people to act on climate change? (SAEED KHAN / AFP, January 4, 2020)

Israeli tech entrepreneurs, programmers, water and environmental experts and zoologists are being called to take part in a special hackathon that will take place for 15 hours later this week in Tel Aviv to devise ways to help Australia tackle the consequences of the environmental calamity it is witnessing.

Called #StandWithAUS, the all-night hackathon, which will start at 6 p.m. on Jan. 30 and end at 9 a.m. the next day, will seek to tackle the challenges of the devastating Australian bush fires, which has seen the destruction of thousands of homes, death of citizens and killed and displaced almost half a billion animals. Hackathons are sprint-like events where programmers and other professionals team up to create solutions to challenges in a limited amount of time.

The initiative is spearheaded by Appleseeds Academy, a non-profit that seeks to close the digital divide in Israel and create technological equality, Kinneret Innovation Center, a tech hub that is part of the Kinneret Academic College, and Impact Innovation Israel, a tech consultancy. Its backers include VC fund Grove Ventures, Amazon Web Services, Cisco, SAP, My Heritage and the Keren Hayesod marketing firm Natural Intelligence, according to the registration form for the event.

Participants will be presented with a number of challenges including identify and treat water sources that have been contaminated by flame retardants and ash from fires; detecting and averting online fraud in fundraising efforts; strengthening the Australian economy by encouraging tourism; monitoring and handling air quality in infected areas detecting and caring for animals and their habitat and finding fireproof and emergency solutions for communications and electricity infrastructure.

The organizers said in a statement that they expect some 150 people to take part in the event, including members of the search and rescue brigade of the Israeli army and representatives from the tech and water industries. The winners will be announced on Friday.

Officials from Australia’s AGL Energy, an electricity provider, the innovation unit of a local Australian bank and the post office were among those entities that helped set out the challenges for the initiative, the statement said.

Registration for the event is open.

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