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On May 12 a colleague sent an email mentioning the #VaiMudarNaCopa ("#It'sGoingToChangeInTheWorldCup) Hackaton, an initiative created by the Open Knowledge Foundation.  The email asked participants to create either web or mobile apps that would support peaceful and democratic protest movements during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.

The World Cup starts on June 12 and there have already been protests against it, and surely more will follow. Protesters are dissatisfied with the costs of the World Cup, especially as it relates to the detriment of basic public services.

I saw the hackathon as a great opportunity to invest my time and improve my web development skills. I found out I was not alone! Other fellow ThoughtWorkers were also interested in the project and on the following Monday, May 19, we gathered in a room for an inception in our Recife office.

It was quite amusing to see that all of us had similar ideas, and, as expected during inceptions, some of these ideas had too many features considering the limited time available. In the end, we all agreed on the "pins on a map" application, especially when one of the participants, Vini Andrade, said he had already developed a similar application a year ago with a couple of friends. We decided to iterate over this app, refining the user experience and interface.

Our main goal for the experience was to have a responsive application, featuring a clean and uncluttered interface. We considered that our users would be on a protest movement, thus not having too much room for taking a phone from their pockets and typing messages.

Introducing Gigante Alerta (Watchful Gigant) 

The app features a crosshair in the middle of the screen, on top of a map loaded based on the current position, and a button. The button opens up four different types of incidents to report: meeting point, police, conflict and depredation. Touching on any of these would place a marker under the crosshair.

Anyone who opens the app also gets to see all of the markers placed within the last 30 minutes. So, even if you're not planning on reporting anything, you can still use the app to be informed about the protest movement.

We had a great time implementing the app and feel it's pretty functional and good-looking. And last, but not least, we got second place! It was a great accomplishment and we think it is really refreshing for the local scene. Afterall, it's not common for a Northeastern team to get awarded in such competitions (most of the time the teams are from either Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo). We hope we can inspire more developers from our area. Now we hope that people will start using the app and provide feedback, so we can improve it.

The application is available for contributors on GitHub, https://github.com/alvarocavalcanti/manifast, and for users on the following address: http://gigantealerta.herokuapp.com/

I must also add that the final look of the app, as well as its name, Gigante Alerta (Watchful Gigant) came from outside ThoughtWorks. They were provided by Rafael Fernandes, an artist who has a few other hackathons under his belt and happens to be married to one of the participants, Tássia Spinelli, our Experience Designer. "The Gigant" refers to the Brazilian people, the nation itself, as a single, powerful individual that has awaken after a long period of numbness, willing to fight against oppression.

The full credits of the team follows:

  • Development: Álvaro Cavalcanti, Alabê Duarte, Filipe Lins and Victor Shyba
  • Content: Guilherme Silva, Taíse Assis and Vini Andrade
  • Experience Design: Tássia Spinelli
  • Art: Rafael Fernandes