A former video gamer turned software developer from Bondi has created a program that helps aid agencies and governments target humanitarian efforts to help the world’s most vulnerable people.
The planet’s poorest nations have become increasingly less safe for aid workers in recent decades and innovative new software from Sydney developer Lambros Photios could change the way humanitarian relief is delivered across the globe.
Mr Photios, now 29, confesses to being an addicted gamer in his teens, clocking up 16 hours a day in front of his screen.
That love of gaming led to coding software for the industry while studying civil engineering and finance at university, where he also met fellow students who were working on programming projects in other areas.
Mr Photios soon found new problems for his analytical mind to solve, and by 24 he was a company director on the Australian Financial Review Fast Starter list, and building software for banks and government agencies.
“Gaming helped me approach data-driven problems using less obvious relationships between data sets, which provided insights previously not attainable,” he told AAP on Saturday.
“Without the unique approach to problem solving we wouldn’t be able to take on the projects we’re doing today.”
His recent projects help aid agencies and governments deliver humanitarian relief more efficiently to those needing help in the poorest nations.
He has just signed a four-year $2.3 million contract with the Swiss government to track its aid programs in the strife-torn Horn of Africa.
“In Somalia, we will be giving agencies visibility of what’s happening on the ground, which means aid efforts can be targeted to the right spot at the right time,” Mr Photios said.
The new software uses data collected from 17 sources, including live satellite and drone imagery, emergency calls and on-the-ground interviews.
“Aid agencies are seeing the situation unfold on the ground in real time and that’s something that has never happened before,” he said.
This approach will enable governments and agencies to be more agile in their response to changing situations, whether it be conflict, sexual assault, or famine.
Mr Photios has also recently built software to help the World Food Programme measure its contribution to peace in the conflict-ravaged Mindanao region of the Philippines.
“We were able to analyse the data to pinpoint areas where women didn’t feel safe to leave their homes to get food for their families because ISIS had suddenly moved into their neighbourhood,” he said.
Mr Photios’s company, Station Five, has also been awarded a contract for a similar project in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, which is home to the largest refugee camp in the world following the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar.
“It’s a very fulfilling project as aid efforts can be highly targeted allowing aid to stretch further and into the hands of those who need it most,” he said.