Testers Donate Their Skills to Save Lives with Humanitarian Toolbox
When an earthquake, flood, drought, or other natural disaster happens, time is of the essence. First responders need to know where to go, what they can do, and who needs help the most—and every minute counts.
Technology can assist and streamline these relief efforts, and Humanitarian Toolbox was started so that life-saving services will be ready and can be adapted, integrated, and deployed when those times of need strike.
The charity creates apps and maintains a “toolbox” of software and solutions for disaster aid organizations all over the world. All its projects are open source, so anyone who wishes to get involved can find the repositories on GitHub and contribute.
Humanitarian Toolbox does the job of gathering and managing requirements from relief organizations and breaks them down into work orders for volunteers to tackle. Developers and designers build tools to be used in times of crisis as well as update and maintain existing apps so that they’re ready to go when the first responders are.
But of course, it takes more than developers to make good software. To optimize testing efforts, Humanitarian Toolbox partnered with TechWell Corp. in 2012 so that attendees at its STAR software testing conferences could work through some of the in-progress apps and help in the search for bugs. Three years later, the alliance is going strong, and there will again be a two-day test lab at STARWEST this fall where conference delegates can demonstrate their exploratory testing skills.
“The work performed at these events greatly increases the quality of the software we produce and ultimately will help the users of our software,” Humanitarian Toolbox wrote on its blog.
STARWEST and STAREAST attendees have found hundreds of security and usability bugs so far, as well as given several enhancement requests and suggested new workflows to streamline the apps. The dozens of people who have participated in the “test-a-thons” were happy to use their time and talents for the greater good, and many have kept up their involvement by continuing to test the applications after the conferences and following up on their bugs by monitoring GitHub.
“We are pleased to be part of such an amazing testing community that is using its skills to help make a difference to this important organization and to disaster relief and response organizations all over the world,” said Alison Wade, president of conferences and training and TechWell.