Hack Week 2022: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

Hack Week 2022: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

This year, Dropbox continued its annual tradition of inviting its Foundation partners to submit skills-based volunteering projects during its company-wide Hack Week. Hack Week is all about embracing the idea that when you bring people together and utilize technology, you can foster new ideas that will have greater impact on the world. This year’s Hack Week theme was 1+1=3; an idea that means the whole has the ability to be greater than the sum of its parts. We can do greater good together than we can alone, and it’s this spirit of community that allows the most creative and unique solutions.

Below are some highlights of Foundation partner projects that Dropbox employees worked on this Hack Week.

Need for safe place for important files + mobile access via chatbot  = virtual lockers

Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) envisions a world in which children’s rights and well-being are protected as they migrate alone in search of safety. KIND’s clients are children who have been separated from their families during their immigration process, and highly transient. This unfortunately can contribute to delays in communication and the misplacement of documents that are essential to their immigration journey. Additionally, these unaccompanied children need quick access to important services like education and health care.

The ask was for the Dropbox team to create “virtual lockers” for unaccompanied minors—a tool that would provide them a safe and permanent place to save critical personal files and be easy to use. The solution was to automate folder creation from pre-defined templates and the implementation of a WhatsApp Chatbot. The chatbot allows KIND clients to upload new or retrieve existing documents (e.g. school applications, ID cards, family photos) from their virtual lockers directly from their smartphone, without the need for an email address or a computer, which is the preferred method of communication by those teens. Dropbox employees from Germany, Ireland, and the US worked on this project, and a pilot was shared with KIND staff. The ultimate goal of this project is to launch it to the teenage bracket of the KIND Mobile program—an initiative that provides IT-managed Android smartphones to teens so they can communicate with their legal and social services representatives at KIND.

Need for more organization + Dropbox tools = improved content sharing system

The Mockingbird Society’s mission is to transform the foster care system and end youth homelessness. The Mockingbird team was storing all their digital assets, from photos for campaigns to assets for grant applications, on a remote drive. Not only was it hard for most of their staff to access, it was also difficult to navigate. When their staff needed a photo for a design or grant report, it was hard knowing where to look.

The Mockingbird team asked for help to create an easy-to-use photo storage and sharing system that all their staff could access. Dropbox employees from the Information Technology and Services team helped evaluate photo storage tools, create, and set up a folder structure. They also trained Mockingbird Society’s staff on tools such as folder automation, Capture, and Paper, and created guides and videos to help the team adopt and use these tools. The impact has improved the workflow of the nonprofit’s communication team and their storytelling ability to reach new audiences.

Emily Doyle, project coordinator at The Mockingbird Society, said, “The Dropbox team members we worked with were absolutely fantastic. They listened to all of our constraints and hopes for a new photo storage system and were able to come up with a solution that is easy to use and fits all of our needs. We loved being a part of Dropbox Hack Week!”

Need for data visualization + coding abilities = interactive 911 map

Raheem AI is committed to building infrastructure for the future of community crisis response. Through their research, Raheem found that 38% of 911 calls can be addressed by community responders instead of police.

Raheem asked us to create an interactive map that showed how the diversion of 911 calls to community service providers instead could change the future of public safety across the country. The Dropbox team, which included employees and interns from across the engineering, product, and growth teams, created a map where viewers can see a macro view of the country, a micro view of specific cities, and a breakdown of the types of 911 calls received. This map is now used as an educational tool to show that community response has the ability to be an alternative to police involvement.

“It’s nice to take a break from our day-to-day work during Hack Week to get time to work with Foundation partners to help them achieve their goals that have such a big impact on the larger community,” said Krittika Patil, senior data scientist on the growth team.

Community + collaboration = social good

Dropbox and its employees deeply believe in creating environments and products that put people first, and that its work can be a force for good. The Dropbox Foundation’s partners’ successes and accomplishments mean ours as well, so we’re committed to the continued support of our Foundation partners as we know we can only move forward when we’re thinking and working in tandem with our community.

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