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The Power of Community: 23 summer interns bring impact & support to DIAL Open Source Center projects

At the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) Open Source Center, one of our values is the belief that the techniques evolved by the free and open source software movement are one of the best ways to create inclusive, collaboratively-designed software. One of the most critical aspects of collaboration in open source projects is building an inclusive environment where anyone can come with their ideas to improve the technology being built. That’s why we are pleased to participate in Google Summer of Code and sponsor the Outreachy program, two excellent opportunities where we sponsor skill building and exposure to projects in the humanitarian and development sectors.

Google Summer of Code (GSoC) is an online, worldwide program that aims to bring more university students into open source software development. Each summer, students work with a mentor from an existing open source software project on a 3-month assignment. These projects address real-world needs and provide a great way for students to learn skills they wouldn’t otherwise gain in the classroom.

Outreachy provides 3-month internships to people who are traditionally underrepresented in technology, specifically in open source software development. Like GSoC, Outreachy provides each intern a one-on-one mentored project opportunity with one of the participating member projects – like those participating in the DIAL Open Source Center. However, Outreachy extends that opportunity beyond students and specifically encourages participation by people who don’t have the opportunity to contribute to (or don’t have experience with) open source software projects. The program also offers project opportunities outside of software development, including working on critical tasks such as documentation, marketing and graphic design.

Over the years, both programs have changed the lives of thousands of people from around the globe. Many people have gone on from both programs to launch careers in the software industry, with many of those people being paid to work on free and open source software. At DIAL, we do our best to bring impact for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and participating in both of these exciting programs can help, even in small ways to achieve the SDGs.

The Open Source Center works with a growing number of free and open source software projects, and we’re excited that there are currently 23 interns with work underway for these projects! Here are a few highlights of (and links to!) just a few of the intern projects happening now in Google Summer of Code and Outreachy, for each of the open source projects involved with the DIAL Open Source Center:

Open Data Kit has three interns right now. For their Google Summer of Code project, Lakshya Gupta is working on a project for Android device-to-device data and forms transfer, which will help users share forms with each other and assist in data review; Aditya Laddha is improving push notifications in the new ODK 2 tool suite, helping field workers stay connected with their supervisors. Outreachy intern Eyisab Manor is creating an export automation system to support ODK Briefcase users.

The LibreHealth community has an impressive total of 14 interns right now. With Outreachy, interns Nguimatio Perrine and Toni Shortsleeve are both working on improving product documentation like non-technical user guides for the community’s EHR & Radiology tools. While LibreHealth has too many GSoC students to mention individually, you can find a list of all the community’s student blogs in their online forum, which has updates on the fascinating work by students like Parvati Naliyatthaliyazchayil, who is working building web components using the open FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) standard to enable the LibreHealth EHR to upgrade to a patient-centric data model.

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team is also participating in Google Summer of Code and Outreachy this summer. Outreachy intern Sunidhi Raheja is helping to create a “statistics explorer” tool for HOT’s Tasking Manager tool. Ramya Ragupathy is working on tools for real-time updates of the community’s work appearing on their web site. HOT’s GSoC student Surya Saini is helping build a “team management” module for the HOT MapCampaigner, adding new features to help team leaders work more efficiently. And student Ankita Khurana is working on HOT’s integration with OpenAerialMap imagery.

And last but not least, the Bahmni hospital information system is also participating in GSoC, with student Isuranga Perera working on notifications for patient events; and also participating in Outreachy with intern Smarita Sharma’s project focusing on the ability for users to tag patients with different “labels” for faster lookup. Spreading this tool throughout the Bahmni user interface will allow health care workers to more quickly locate patient records throughout their hospital visit.

While I’d love to be share more details about each and every internship project project underway currently, there just isn’t space here in this blog. Instead, I strongly encourage you to head to the GSoC organization and project list, and the current Outreachy intern list, for details and links to all of the work that so many talented new faces are contributing to software projects that the Open Source Center supports. And most importantly, please spread the word about each of these programs to students and other people interested in getting involved in free and open source software development, as well as people contributing to software projects in the international development and humanitarian response sectors. We’d love to see even more participation in upcoming rounds!

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