Week 12 - HFOSS for Social Good

After researching COVID-19 open efforts, we spent a few classes learning about social good & humanitarian projects in the realm of Open Source. HFOSS - Humanitarian free and open source software - is an initiative in which open source is used to solve humanitarian problems around the world. COVID-19 open efforts is one exemplary example of HFOSS today. With the shortage of PPE, life-saving equipment, and testing, individuals have come together to address these issues via ventilator designs, rapid test kits, and data transparency. In this way, open source software is not only helping our medical workers on the front lines of the pandemic, but is saving lives.

Aside from assisting with the COVID-19 response, Open Source software has played a pivotal role in several social good projects that spans across different domains - healthcare, education, and sustainability. In class, I had the opportunity to evaluate HopsitalRun, which is a software that is built to help healthcare communities in underserved regions. The platform has an “offline” capability, where healthcare workers are able to access & manage medical records without having internet access. This project is an instance that demonstrates the power of Open Source Software and how it can transform communities.

When I was looking into possible projects to work on for my final project, one of the main components I focused on was how it helps people. Most of the google searches I’ve done was “Open Source Social Good Projects” and while most of the results were great, I didn’t have the technical skillset to contribute to the project. In some cases, I got the impression that the project fell apart, with little to no activity. In the end, I chose to do OpenFoodFacts, which was suprisingly (to me) listed as a social good project. To me, the project had a wonderful community and a tech stack that I was able to contribute to. However, now thinking about it, it’s not simply a database of food from around the world. Instead, it’s a project that is dedicated to providing people with transparency regarding nutrition information. My perception on what social good meant was flawed but regardless, I’m happy to be contributing to this project.

Since last time, my team and I were waiting for our first Pull Request to be approved and were also working on implementing the dark mode feature to the website. Now, I can say that we finally got our pull request merged and are able to see our contribution in the project repository! Even though it was a tiny fix, we hope that it will enable more contributors to support the project by making it easier for them to set up the dev environment. We also finished our dark mode implementation and made our second pull request. So far, one of the admins love the new darkmode option and now, we are waiting to get feedback from the rest of the community.

Written before or on April 27, 2020