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Ceiling Smasher: Supporting Open Source Software With Interns for Outreachy

  • Michael Downey

Once again this year, DIAL is proud to be a "Ceiling Smasher" supporter of Outreachy, a global program that provides internships to work in open source and free software.

Once again this year, DIAL is proud to be a “Ceiling Smasher” supporter of Outreachy, a global program that provides internships to work in open source and free software. Outreachy internships are open to applicants around the world. Interns work remotely, are not required to move, and are paid a stipend of $5,500 USD for the three month internship. Anyone who faces under-representation, systemic bias, or discrimination in the technology industry of their country is invited to apply. The program runs twice a year, at the middle and end of the year.

Outreachy interns work with experienced mentors from open source communities. Here are the 8 communities DIAL is supporting during this round of the program, and a short description of each of their internship projects. Selected interns will be announced by early May!

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) applies the principles of open source and open data sharing for humanitarian response and economic development. As an NGO and a global volunteer community, HOT creates and provides digital and print maps, and builds technology to address the world’s toughest challenges through the use and growth of OpenStreetMap. In times of crisis and natural disaster, HOT rallies a network of volunteers worldwide to rapidly produce maps relied upon by humanitarian relief organizations to reach those in need.

  • Building a chatbot that will support team members working together using the community’s real-time chat platform.
  • Gaining understanding how their products are used (and by whom) by conducting an evaluation driven by user experience and human centered design philosophies.
  • Strengthening their current Technical Support and Feedback systems and integrating open source standard practices to reduce workload and capacity of the HOT tech development team.
  • Optimizing the performance of the Application Programming Interface (API) of HOT’s Tasking Manager, a tool for collaborative editing on OpenStreetMap.


LibreHealth is an “umbrella organization” for Health IT projects, and currently hosts three projects: LibreHealth Toolkit, LibreHealth Radiology, and LibreHealth EHR.

  • Troubleshoot and initiating repair for user interface issues identified by the Electronic Health Record (EHR) team for their Documentation site.
  • Documenting the LibreHealth EHR system in the community wiki, to add the most commonly used healthcare workflows, employed in the widest variety of environments.


The mission of the Mifos Initiative is to speed the elimination of poverty by leading a global community that builds, supports, and uses Mifos X, a free and open source platform enabling the effective and efficient delivery of responsible financial services to the world’s 2 billion poor and unbanked. Their approach to technology-enabled financial inclusion unites financial institutions, local technology partners, and volunteer developers to collectively advance open source banking infrastructure so the sector can sustainably build impactful innovations in digital financial services.

  • Updating their Mobile Wallet software to use their Open Banking API, and more deeply integrate with external payment systems including Mojaloop, Hover, and mobile money API integration.
  • Re-writing the remainder of the Mifos X webapp from Angular 1.75 to Angular 6, which provides a cleaner design, access to brand new libraries, better theming/skinnability, and a more stable and modern codebase.
  • Strengthening and hardening the Apache Fineract software by upgrading Java and improving the quality of code test coverage.
  • Updating additional Application Programming Interface (API) specifications to the Swagger/OpenAPI format for better documentation and easier adoption.


mUzima is an adaptable, open source, android-based mHealth platform for use by health care providers and patients to manage health data. In areas with low to zero connectivity, mUzima provides a secure platform for users (providers/patients) to access and capture data in off-line mode to synchronize later with the main Health Information System.

  • Creating an HTML “drag and drop” form builder tool for the mUzima mobile application.


Oppia works to make high-quality education available to those who lack access to it by creating tools to enable the creation & distribution of high-quality scalable online lessons. Oppia’s aim is to provide personalized tutoring to every single person in the world, especially those whose educational needs are not currently being served well. The Oppia platform allows collaborative creation of interactive learning experiences that simulate a friendly, non-judgmental tutor.

  • Crafting and executing a well-scoped digital marketing strategy, for marketing channels the project currently uses, as well as potential new channels that they may pursue in the future.
  • Redesigning the topic, exploration, story and skill editor pages so they are more visually appealing and work better on mobile devices, while retaining all of their features.
  • Fixing the “linter” tool used to ensure software quality, and implementing all lint checks in the software code base.
  • Increasing to 100% coverage of the automated test of the software frontend to ensure higher quality code.
  • Adding more functionality to their automated code repository “bot”, which acts as a helper to maintain software development workflows.
  • Conducting rigorous user studies of Oppia’s platform and lessons with students who are currently at a basic education level.

Public Lab

Public Lab is a community where everyday people can learn how to investigate environmental concerns. Using inexpensive DIY techniques, they seek to change how people see the world in environmental, social, and political terms. They are an open network of community organizers, educators, technologists and researchers working to create low cost solutions for monitoring air, water and land.

  • Fortifying the Public Lab platform’s Text Editor, and introducing more Custom Inserts to make it easier to add content such as maps, tables, and lists of content from elsewhere.
  • Optimizing the performance and speed of the Public Lab web platform, and improve its accessibility for people with various disabilities.

Tor Project

The Tor Project advances human rights and freedoms by creating and deploying free and open source anonymity and privacy technologies, supporting their unrestricted availability and use, and furthering their scientific and popular understanding. It is a free-software non-profit project to build an anonymity toolkit used by individuals, companies, governments, and law enforcement around the world.

  • Helping support users to receive and find the most up to date information on using Tor’s products, answer support queries, and improve documentation.
  • Improve the Tor Relay software’s support for the newer IPv6 network protocols, to help increase available relay bandwidth.


Ushahidi offers products that enable local observers to submit reports using their mobile phones or the internet, while simultaneously creating a temporal and geospatial archive of events. The platform is often used for crisis response, human rights reporting, and election monitoring.

  • Providing the possibility for the deployers of the tool to choose to turn on a “Content disclaimer” before viewing information that can sometimes be considered sensitive, objectionable or offensive by some readers.
  • Improving the experience for people using Ushahidi with GMail integration to receive reports.

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