MIAMI – More than 100 computer programmers are meeting Friday in Miami to take part in a “hackathon” aimed at developing apps that will allow Cubans greater access to the Internet.
The three-day HeyCuba Hackathon aims to produce a list of applications that operate through e-mail, the greatest source of online connectivity currently available to Cubans.
According to the event’s organizer, digital coder Salvi Pascual, the idea is to create tools that “help Cubans get more news and also connect with and start up services that allow them to collaborate and communicate with the rest of the world.”
The hackathon, to be held at the Florida Vocational Institute, will conclude with the awarding of first, second and third prizes – $500, $300 and $250 – for the apps that stand out for their “design, use, impact, relevance and effectiveness,” according to the criteria of the HeyCuba jury.
“We’re super-excited, we have some 20 app suggestions, though in the end it will depend on the coders and what they want to do,” Pascual said, adding that most of the geeks are young Cuban Americans and other Hispanics “interested in this noble cause.”
Those signed up for the hackathon even include techies living in Cuba, who will be connected through chats and will seek solutions with their counterparts in Miami, which makes the South Florida city a “connecting bridge,” according to the Havana-born organizer, who has lived in the U.S. for five years.
The workshop that starts Friday is an extension of the non-profit “Apretaste” venture, a platform founded by Pascual that for the past three years has allowed Internet access to 25 percent of Cubans who can send and receive e-mails.
The reach of that platform is expected to be expanded with the apps that are developed this weekend.