Houston Voices

Global Legal Hackathon launches at The Cannon in Houston

Students, technologists, lawyers, mentors, and judges of all ages and backgrounds packed The Cannon's space Saturday and Sunday for the Houston chapter's Global Legal Hackathon. Getty Images

Hackathons have been launching across the globe at an ever-increasing rate, providing opportunities for computer programmers and others involved in software development to collaborate on projects that solve problems.

Hackathons usually consist of a multi-day workshop in which individuals break into teams and compete against each other to win the approval of a panel of judges, often resulting in a prize. These events will have a specific theme or focus centered on problem solving in today's world using new technologies. Themes can vary from utilizing a new technology like blockchain, supporting a movement like mental illness awareness, or even just working to develop a brand-new app that solves a problem previously not considered.

Global Legal Hackathon is a nonprofit entity that organizes legal groups across the globe. Since launching, GLH has hosted over 6,000 participants in 24 different countries. The primary goal for these events is to bring together people under a unified vision to develop solutions that improve the legal industry. Last weekend, GLH hosted over 5000 hackathons across the world, with a winner from each location moving onto the next round.

The Houston branch manager for the Global Legal Hackathon is Internetbar.org Institute. IBO organizes, gathers mentors, manages, and provides support for all legal hackathons in Houston. Christy Leos, the director of operations of IBO, described their mission as an "aim to support those who need critical help more efficiently, and change processes that no longer serve the people."

The president of IBO, Jeff Aresty, expanded on this mission.

"Like previous generations, we too must rely upon failed justice institutions and laws to protect those who are excluded from society, protect the climate, and eradicate poverty. In the meantime, the online society which now amounts to over half the world, is dominated by everyone else in civil society who are engaging in all kinds of online activity that may connect us with each other – but do very little to effectively bring fairness and freedom to us all."

The Cannon was proud to host last weekend's Houston chapter of the GLH. Students, technologists, lawyers, mentors, and judges of all ages and backgrounds packed the space Saturday and Sunday. By the end of the hackathon, the winning team had developed a tool to assist lawyers in visualizing eDiscovery data, combined with the information used to manage the movement of that data through the EDRM process.

As hackathons continue to grow in both size and frequency, their modern creative solutions to today's problems also grow. Moving forward, IBO hopes to continue to go where the problems are. They are already planning to host an access to justice hackathon by the end of the year where Aresty hopes to continue the progress made over the weekend, sharing with the group that "their actions can help us reinvent how we make laws and devise a social contract that brings access to justice for all." More events like last weekend's are certainly a step in the right direction of this ambitious but much needed goal.

If you're interested in Internetbar and participating in events like this in the future, please visit http://internetbar.org/membership.
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This is content from our partner, which originally ran on The Cannon.

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Self-driving pizza delivery goes live in Houston

Domino's and Nuro announced their partnership in 2019 — and now the robots are hitting the roads. Photo courtesy of Nuro

After announcing their partnership to work on pizza deliveries via self-driving robots in 2019, Dominos and Nuro have officially rolled out their technology to one part of town.

Beginning this week, if you place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights (3209 Houston Ave.), you might have the option to have one of Nuro's R2 robot come to your door. This vehicle is the first do deliver completely autonomously without occupants with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release.

"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," says Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, in the release. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Orders placed at select dates and times will have the option to be delivered autonomously. Photo courtesy of Nuro

The Nuro deliveries will be available on select days and times, and users will be able to opt for the autonomous deliveries when they make their prepaid orders online. They will then receive a code via text message to use on the robot to open the hatch to retrieve their order.

"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," says Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, in the release. "We're excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino's customers in Houston. We can't wait to see what they think."

California-based Nuro has launched a few delivery pilots in Houston over the past few years, including the first Nuro pilot program with Kroger in March 2019, grocery delivery from Walmart that was revealed in December 2019, and pharmacy delivery that launched last summer.

From being located in a state open to rolling out new AV regulations to Houston's diversity — both in its inhabitants to its roadways, the Bayou City stood out to Nuro, says Sola Lawal, product operations manager at Nuro.

"As a company, we tried to find a city that would allow us to test a number of different things to figure out what really works and who it works for," Lawal says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's hard to find cities that are better than Houston at enabling that level of testing."

Steam the episode here.

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