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Humanitarian Software Program: Redefining the Role of Technologists

Tina Vinod is the Operations Lead for the Social Impact Program and a mentor for the Humanitarian Software Program (HSP). In this blog, she shares details of the HSP program, it's goals and projects currently on this program.

Building software is what we do best. The Social Impact Program is a natural extension of our technology expertise into the humanitarian world.

We believe in advancing software’s impact and reducing inequity in this world. The Humanitarian Software Program (HSP) is one of the manifestations to this commitment. In this program, ThoughtWorkers provide pro-bono software development service on a voluntary basis to humanitarian Open Source projects.

In 2013, we had more than 6,000 hours contributed by a 100-plus volunteers from ThoughtWorks offices around the world towards HSP projects.

We have a dedicated, full-time team, which includes a Program Manager, and two technical leads. They help coordinate work with volunteers so that we can maximize the impact towards these open source social impact projects.

Current projects supported by the HSP program are highlighted below. The HSP team works with the core team members on these projects and provides the right technology and software help and interventions.

OpenMRS - (http://www.openmrs.org)

OpenMRS is an open source medical records system, designed to support various forms of health care delivery work. OpenMRS is now in use around the world (see the OpenMRS Atlas), including South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania, Haiti, India, China, United States, Pakistan, the Phillipines, and many other places.

ThoughtWorks is also building an Open Source Hospital Management system called Bahmni, for resource constrained environments, on top of OpenMRS.

Caption: An OpenMRS Code Jam at ThoughtWorks Chicago office

"ThoughtWorks has already helped Ampath tremendously, your program and people are top notch!" - Lauren Stanisic, International Health Data Coordinator, Regenstrief Institute. AMPATH is an implementation of OpenMRS in Kenya.

RapidFTR - (http://www.rapidftr.com/)

In any emergency, whether a natural disaster or an armed conflict, the commotion of survival and flight leads to the separation of children from their caregivers, leaving children vulnerable to violence, economic and sexual exploitation, and trafficking.

RapidFTR is an open source mobile application and data storage system that seeks to expedite this process by helping humanitarian workers collect, sort and share information about unaccompanied and separated children in emergency situations so they can be registered for care services and reunited with their families.

RapidFTR has been designed to work in non-network environments and is built with solid security and privacy features in mind.


Caption: RapidFTR code jams in Kampala.

MifosX - (http://www.openmf.org/)

MifosX is a Next Generation, Free and Open Source, Micro-Finance platform licensed under the Mozilla Public License V2.0. MifosX aims to build a Micro-Finance Platform for organizations which are providing Micro-Credit / Micro-Finance to the poor -- so that these organizations can manage and run their operations in a cheap, cost-effective and efficient manner.

“I'd like to give a big thank you to the ThoughtWorks HSP team. They've helped us at a critical time in the launch of Mifos X to our developer community. They're putting the infrastructure in place to guide a smooth transition to our community-driven development model on top of the Mifos X platform.” - Edward Cable - Mifos Community Manager. April 2013.


Caption: Gurpreet Luthra, HSP Tech Lead, was awarded the "Technical Volunteer of the Year" at the 2013 Mifos Community Choice Awards.

We believe that software has a liberating capacity for society, and a potential to address the most pressing issues and needs of our time. We invite fellow technologists to contribute to these life changing projects.

Contact Us

Do you represent an organization with a social mission or want to gain insight into our Social Impact work, including how to contribute to HSP? We'd love to talk with you.