In addition to the 25 locations working on challenges around the world, the International Space Apps Challenge had one additional - and very unique - location: virtual participation. Virtual participants logged in from all over to connect with each other, connect with physical locations, form teams, and get to work.
Coordinating virtual participation was a challenging experiment that the International Space Apps Challenge has excelled at. Before this event, no one had organized a global hackathon with such a wide ranging virtual component. How do we manage participants who are waking up in literally every possible time zone and getting started at different times? How do we identify the skills they have and get teams formed? These challenges aren't quite so prevalent in physical locations but they are major factors in a successfully organized virtual global event.
We settled on two primary means of coordination: a public pirate pad and an IRC channel. The open, everyone-can-submit-content nature of these platforms allowed for individuals to come online at any time and get to work. They submitted their information, skills and interests to the pirate pad. They hung around in the IRC chat and offered help, met other virtual participants, and coordinated their efforts.
The result of this effort are 15 submissions from participants all around the world. Many of these submissions were from individuals, many were from teams of friends and colleagues, and still more were from teams formed by complete strangers from around the world who have never interacted before.
I'd like to highlight one such team that formed this way: Matthew M. and Christos P from Toronto and Greece. Neither of these participants had every met before yet they found common ground in their interest around Planetary Data System Interface challenge. They created NASA-EX, a web-based 3D solar system exploration tool that utilizes NASA's HORIZON data sets. Matt and Christos used the IRC channel and connections with moderators and organizers of the Space Apps Challenge to find each other, work together, and make something wonderful. And there are 18 more examples from the virtual community that you can find on the Space Apps website.
And we also have two projects that are being nominated for global recognition: Vicar2PNG and Mobile Web App In Html5 (Ushahidi Offline to Online App). Another post focusing on these projects is forthcoming.
While most participants in the International Space Apps Challenge attended a wonderfully organized event in a specific location somewhere, many also sat in coffee shops, home offices, and rooms all around the world. Below are some photos of virtual participants at their workstations. Meet Matt from Canada, Francesco from Italy, Christos from Greece and Charl from the Netherlands: