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February 28th 2023 by Space Apps

Since its inception, the NASA International Space Apps Challenge has believed in the potential to create global impact through empowering local communities. From just 25 Space Apps Local Events in 2012, Space Apps now reaches over 160 different countries and territories with 323 Local Events. Each year, scientists, designers, storytellers, makers, builders, and technologists convene at Local Events where they are encouraged to ‘think globally and act locally.’

Space Apps Challenge participants create innovative projects with their local communities in mind, and have the opportunity to collaborate with the broader Space Apps global community. Outcomes of this synergistic environment range from participants learning new skills, building their networks, identifying pathways to pursue academic and professional opportunities, and identifying innovative solutions to real challenges on Earth and in space.

Space Apps Teams Positively Impact Local Communities

Space Apps values the local perspective that participants bring to the hackathon each year. We recognize that participants know and understand what their communities need, which makes them the best stewards to apply innovative, local solutions!

Team Landslide Detection Squad of Perth, Australia

Team Landslide Detection Squad from Perth, Australia created a landslide risk monitoring system that can interoperate with emergency management and government systems, and receive input from affected communities. When asked about their Space Apps journey, they shared, “Our team is concerned about how natural hazards negatively affect people’s lives. This is why we worked to develop a solution that allows for the early detection of landslides. Having people with different backgrounds and skill sets on the team allowed us to solve the obstacles we faced during the hackathon more easily. Collaboration leads to better solutions.” Team Landslide Detection Squad’s project received the 2021 Space Apps Global Award for Local Impact - the award that recognizes a solution that demonstrates the greatest potential for local impact.

Team Sirius of Rio Claro, São Paulo, Brazil

Team Sirius from Rio Claro, São Paulo, Brazil, is an example of a team that developed an innovative solution inspired by their local community and environment. A team member’s brother is blind, which motivated them to develop a project that is accessible to people who are part of the blind and low-vision community. Team Sirius created an app that locates the twelve zodiac constellations in the sky and teaches users about stellar variability. They coordinated with multiple people who are blind to ensure their design fit the intended user’s needs. By building an accessible and inclusive solution, Team Sirius positively impacted many individuals in their community and around the globe.

Space Apps Local Leads Facilitate Transformative Opportunities for Participants

Space Apps Local Leads host the NASA Space Apps Challenge in their communities and share the hackathon experience with community members through participant recruitment. They also act as event coordinators that set up and host a location for problem solvers to come together, whether that be in person or virtually. They work with local speakers, sponsors, and partners to create a rich experience for participants. Local Leads leverage their understanding of the community to facilitate a collaborative and innovative environment, and in doing so, create opportunities for their local communities.

Nilufar, a Local Lead of Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Local Lead Nilufar strives to foster economic opportunities for young people in their local communities. Local Collaborators, organizations, and sponsors recruited by Nilufar provided mentorship, prizes, and opportunities for participants to continue to learn and grow professionally after the hackathon. After teams presented their projects at the end of the hackathon, the Local Collaborators were so impressed, they contacted some participants to provide them with financial support for academic pursuits and pathways to land jobs!

Nanar, a Local Lead of Inuvik, Canada

Local Lead Nanar demonstrates how Space Apps promotes collaboration and inclusion even for the farthest and smallest communities across the globe. Nanar’s Local Event focused on K-8 school children in a small town of 3,000 just miles from the Arctic Ocean. The Canadian Space Agency even helped local students participating in the event submit questions to be answered by astronauts! “The NASA Space Apps Challenge steers children the right way in life. Their Space Apps experience will stay with them their whole lives, including when they decide where to go in the future," Nanar explained. “We are so far North it seems like we are separated from the rest of the world at times. But Space Apps made us feel connected to the entire world.”

Join the Space Apps Community

The worldwide network of Space Apps events creates a global community that is solving some of the world’s most interesting Earth and space-related challenges. You can join this community as a Local Lead to help build a collaborative, diverse, and inclusive experience for participants this Oct. 7 and 8. Are you in? Apply HERE! Stay tuned, registration for this year's NASA Space Apps Challenge opens in July.

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