Each year, a large number of civilians are killed and injured by unexploded weapons such as artillery shells, land mines, mortars, grenades and bombs. These explosive remnants of war (ERW) regularly disrupt daily civilian life in post-war and conflict zones.

To combat the problem, the Center for Technology and National Security Policy (CTNSP) at the National Defense University is challenging developers to come up with a mechanism to keep “eyes on the street” and transform ordinary citizen’s mobile devices into tools that can be used to report ERW and land mines to the appropriate authorities. 

The contest encourages developers to develop open-source applications, as well as to leverage existing apps. All submissions must demonstrate how the new or improved application will produce or improve ERW or land mine reporting, and how the solution will be sustained following the completion of the competition. Team entries are encouraged. 

A $3,000 cash award will be given for first place.  Second place will receive $1,500 and third place will receive $500.  The top two submissions may see their application rolled out in countries affected by ERW, where their solution could be put to work immediately. 

The competition kicks off March 18, 2015 and submissions will be accepted between March 18, 2014 and July 20, 2014.  Complete contest rules and entry requirements can be found at http://erwlandmineapps.challengepost.com/

National Defense University is the Nation’s premier national security institution focused on advanced joint education, leader development, and scholarship.  The University is an accredited graduate-level institution that provides an educational and research environment to prepare future leaders of the Armed Forces and civilian agencies for high-level policy, command, and staff responsibilities.


Contestants must submit their entries via the www.ChallengePost.com announcement during the official submission period. The selection and evaluation process will be managed by the Center for Technology and National Security Policy’ Civil Military Activities Integration Activities Program at the National Defense University (Washington, DC). Team entries are encouraged.

Contestants must be 18 years of age or older to be considered. Per US Government rules, this competition is open to US Citizens. International teams are welcome and encouraged to apply, as long as at least one team member is a US citizen.


Your solution must address the following socio-cultural requirements:

  • This challenge seeks to address the problem that the people who are more likely to find ERW and land mines in their normal day-to-day lives are mostly in the rural communities, are more likely to be working in the agriculture where they have to utilize land resources daily, and are likely to have limited education/low rates or literacy.
    • The most successful solution will address this concern with the simplest reporting system, making training and familiarity simple and easy. This will also address translation and language issues for various countries and regions, giving preference to a language-neutral technological approach that can work in a variety of regions and cultures (f.e., using iconography instead of text).
  • Therefore, the top requirement for the Challenge winner will be to produce a simple, easy to understand SMS application.
    • The Challenge also seeks a smart phone-type app solution that can function on the growing number of 3G phones in ERW/land mines-affected regions.
  • The Challenge winner should also think of ways that the app can address the safety and security of those doing the reporting – f.e.,  the reporting system should in no way encourage untrained, ordinary citizens to seek out, remove, disassemble or otherwise affect ERW/land mines in order to speed up the clearing/decommissioning process.
  • Application should allow data to go to the relevant National Authority, unusually a Mine Action Centre or a Government Ministry. The data recorded should be designed to allow easy entry into IMSMA (Integrated Management System for Mine Action) which is the most commonly used management system in MACs around the world.  IMSMA compatible data will also be in a format familiar with any professional international NGO or commercial company working in mine and ERW remediation. The data may also be designed to be compatible with, or linked to, a mine and WERW database.
    • Applicants are encouraged to conduct research on existing SMS-based reporting programs around the world for background and familiarity.
    • Applicants are encouraged to become familiar with the generic reporting requirements of IMSMA when reporting mine and ERW occurrences, incidents or accidents around the world. The IMSMA forms need not be used, but the data reported should reflect the minimal essential data for an IMSMA record to be generated.
    • The solution should be rolled out not just for civilian use, but for the potential use by police and law enforcement structures in affected regions.
    • In many places where ERW/land mines are prevalent, only local officials will have access to mobile phones, and will only report when they are back in range of a cell tower, depending on sophistication of the mobile communications grid. Therefore, the technology solution should address the need for asynchronous use – questions about ERW/land mines are answered and stored for later transmission to appropriate authorities.


Your solution must address the following technical parameters:

  • Interoperability ( multiple platforms should allow developers to share application with others).
  • The Open Source license should allow other participants and the judges to extend the code used for the challenge.
  • Stability: solution should have been subjected to stability tests like Classic Stability Test for unrooted devices and Scaling Stability Test for rooted device. There are many stability tests, whether app is built for mobile phone or a computer, rooted or uprooted. Submitted apps should have undergone necessary stability tests.
  • Sustainability: Solution should highlight key strategies they will deploy to sustain the app in the marketplace. Their submitted strategies should be well-researched and also show some original thoughts.
  • Developers should display enough understanding of developer networks like Github, to allow continuous development and contribution from other developers, in case such is needed. Please see https://github.com/ and http://readwrite.com/2013/09/30/understanding-github-a-journey-for-beginners-part-1#awesm=~oxKh7RM7UTLhmw for more reference.
  • Developers should submit a link to their Github repo for the link on ChallengePost, along with screenshots and (optionally) a demo video.

  • Ease of use: The user interface must be friendly enough and the most important uses of the solution must be easily understood via visible navigation mechanisms. Such an app/interface should have friendly notification systems that ensure users do not miss important notices even if they haven’t visited the apps in a while.


  • The solution should be based on open-source software that can be modified in different countries according to the civilian/government needs with land mine clearance or ERW.
  • Bandwidth: Apps should show bandwidth conservation, and load time should be very minimal.
  • Developers should provide a plan for continuous user engagement and incorporation of user concerns/suggestions into future versions of the app.
  • Non-generalization: The extent to which the apps are able to reliably analyze different local data at different locations.



Hackathon Sponsors


$5,000 in prizes

First Place

Second Place

Third Place

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:

How to enter

Developers should submit an app link to their Github repo for the link on ChallengePost, along with screenshots and (optionally) a demo video.

Solution must be built on the following platforms:

  • Mobile 2G Phones – the most widespread type of phones in use globally
  • Short Systems Messaging (SMS) – one of the most widespread ways to communicate
  • Mobile Smart Phones (3G) – growing in use in many developing nations


David Becker

David Becker

Samuel Bendett

Samuel Bendett

James Craft

James Craft

Dr. Thomas Snitch

Dr. Thomas Snitch
University of Maryland

Judging Criteria

  • Contribution of the application towards improving ERW and land mine reporting
    Contribution of the application towards improving ERW and land mine reporting (60%)
  • Ease of implementing
    Ease of implementing the application by local populations and law enforcement/armed services, including considerations of platform, and time and cost requirements (15%)
  • Ease in producing or improving applications
    Ease in producing or improving applications via a hackathon or a series of hackathons (15%)
  • Sustainability
    Sustainability of apps/solutions post competition (10%)

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