Beginning Wednesday, March 19, 2014, the National Defense University’s Center for Technology and National Security Policy (CTNSP) will be launching a Disaster Apps Challenge. From the earthquake in Haiti to the recent typhoon in the Philippines, disaster relief apps have shown great promise when it comes to increasing the efficiency and response time of the humanitarian sector. This contest challenges app developers to find innovative ways to improve and refine existing disaster relief solutions.

The CTNSP Disaster Apps Challenge encourages developers to build upon an open source disaster relief application that is already being used in the field. The challenge is looking for disaster aps that are well built and useful to a broad range of users. The challenge offers developers the opportunity to demonstrate their application’s value to citizens and first responders.

A $3,000 cash award will be given to the winner. Second place will receive $1,500 and third place will receive $500. Winners will receive mentoring and feedback on further development of their applications, along with exposure to experts and organizations across the disaster response field.

The competition kicks off at 12:00 p.m. EST and submissions will be accepted between March 19, 2014 to July 15, 2014.

National Defense University is the Nation’s premier national security institution focused on advanced joint education, leader development, and scholarship. The University is an accredited graduate-level institution that provides an educational and research environment to prepare future leaders of the Armed Forces and civilian agencies for high-level policy, command, and staff responsibilities.


The challenge will be (1) Open-entry, (2) Individuals, Teams and Organizations are eligible to participate, but the organization will receive recognition if they win, (3) 18 years of age or older and (4) Open to non-US Citizens and non-residents that partner with an American citizen.


(Applications will not need to fulfill all parameters, but they will be scored lower if they do not)

Interoperability: Multiple platforms should allow developers to share application with others

Networks: Developers should display enough understanding of developer networks like GitHub to allow continuous development and contribution from other developers, in case such is needed.

Stability: Apps should undergo necessary stability tests prior to submission, such as the Classic Stability Test (for uprooted devices) and Scaling Stability Test (for rooted devices).

Sustainability: Apps should highlight strategies to sustain the app in the marketplace. Strategies should be well-researched and include a plan for continuous user engagement and incorporate user concerns/suggestions for future versions of the app.

Ease of use: The user interface must be accessible and easy to navigate. The most important features of the app must that it is easy to distinguish and visible to the users via navigation buttons. Apps should have simple notification systems that ensure users do not miss important notices even if they haven’t visited the app in a while.

Bandwidth: Apps should show bandwidth conservation, and load time should be minimal.

Geo-location Analysis: The extent to which the app reliably analyzes different local data sources.


Hackathon Sponsors


$5,000 in prizes

First Prize

Second Prize

Third Prize

Honorary Mentions

Mentoring (3)

The winners will receive mentoring by subject matter experts.


Exposure to other successful developers in the field

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:

How to enter

Developers should submit a link to their Github repo for the link on ChallengePost, along with screenshots and a short demo video (5-10 min max) or powerpoint presentation (20 pages max) explaining how the app will build on existing disaster systems and address issues like interoperability, networks, stability, sustainability, ease of use, bandwidth, and geo-location analysis. Contestants should refer to Submission Requirements for more info.




Nelson Jacobsen

Nelson Jacobsen
Random Hacks of Kindness

Kyle Stewart

Kyle Stewart

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy

Albert Gembara

Albert Gembara
USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance

Judging Criteria

  • Value to Community
    • Can the app help improve disaster management procedures and/or the efficiency of disaster management services? (50%)
  • Ease of Use
    • Is the app user-friendly and easy to understand? (15%)
  • Interoperable
    • Does the app function with other disaster management systems?(15%)
  • Sustainability
    • How well does the app highlight strategies to sustain itself in the marketplace? Is it well-researched and how strong is its plan for continuous user engagement and its ability to incorporate user feedback?(10%)
  • Innovation
    • Does the app provide a new approach to disaster management? (5%)
  • General Appeal
    • How appealing is this app to disaster management community and other users? Is it relevant and visually appealing? (5%)

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