Homeless World Cup Rio 2010: the developer’s report

Loft’s Andreas Jansson (far right) headed over to the Homeless World Cup tournament in Rio this year, to help ensure the massive annual live reporting operation ran smoothly. Andreas writes…

I just got back from 10 days on what could have been an amazingly relaxing holiday on Copacabana Beach, had it not been for the 8th Homeless World Cup, where I was in charge of ensuring that the website was working, up to date, kept relevant and bug-free.

I knew that our office was going to be based on the beach, so I wasn’t expecting light-speed internet. But I was expecting some sort of Internet connection. That expectation was met on the third day of the tournament. Because of this I spent the first two days in the hotel foyer, uploading content that was brought to me on a USB key from the beach once per hour. On the third day we were given a 1Mb/sec WiFi connection, wired under the sand, behind the porta-loos, through the window of one of the containers, into some sort of disassembled telephone plug and finally plugged into a modem and a D-Link router. It wasn’t great, it broke after a few days, but it was something.

If the lack of proper connectivity was the worst part of the tournament, the high-paced, agile team of volunteers and staff was probably the best part of the tournament (especially since I don’t really watch football). People joined and left all the time, and the website had to change based on who was involved.

One of the top Brazilian tweeters turned up in the middle of the week to help out – great, let’s fire up Google analytics and compare to Tweet Reach and see what we can do to maximise our impact. A journalist from one of the top Brazilian web news papers gave us a couple of days and a few dozen articles in Portuguese. Fabulous, let’s create a new news page on the main site, completely in Portuguese!

Lots of great photographers from around the world were on site during the whole week, offering photos on content to us for no charge – fantastic, let’s overcome this horrid Internet connection by batch uploading hundreds of photos over ssh to the Matchbox CMS system, letting the journalists pick and choose images to add to their articles. Burn a DVD for a Chilean player in exchange for a mention on a major Kenyan TV station, sign a shirt of a South African player in exchange for a great top story, and so on.

In retrospect, the week was really all about pragmatism, trying to maintain a website for one of the world’s larger charity events with minimal tech resources. But in the end we did pull it through, thanks to a great group of people, and you can find the result on www.homelessworldcup.org/rio-2010.

Andreas Jansson at Homeless World Cup Rio 2010