Global hackathon calls for help dealing with impacts of Covid-19

31 Mar 2020

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The Global Hack also aims to come up with solutions to help fight future pandemics and crises more effectively.

Following Estonia’s Hack the Crisis event earlier this month, which saw more than 1,000 participants from 20 countries take part in a remote hackathon, the organisers are putting together another hackathon focusing on issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Global Hack is calling on the global technology community to share and develop ideas for urgently needed solutions to the socio-economic crisis that is currently unfolding.

The online event will run from 9 April to 11 April and, according to Accelerate Estonia, is expected to attract more than 1m participants from around the world. Anyone who is interested can register here.

‘Online with no borders’

Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former president of Estonia who is helping the hackathon, said: “The crisis is far from over and the fight is real, but the future is now. We can battle the problems of the immediate crisis with solutions that also increase our longer-term resilience.

“We should consider how we support our changing relationships; a new economy; poor healthcare; and strengthening the arts. We must also develop effective solutions to respond to future pandemics and other crises so we never have to hide again.

“Online, with no borders, tech activists are building solutions in an epic, rapid prototyping hackathon.”

Ilves suggested that the upcoming event could be one of the largest hackathons ever held online. “This is a unique time when the whole world is fighting the same problem together,” he added.

According to Accelerate Estonia, events being held as part of the Global Hack hackathon have reached more than 100,000 participants in countries all over the world, including India, Brazil, Italy, Poland, Germany, the UK, Austria, the Netherlands, Afghanistan and Denmark.

What the solutions could look like

The new event aims to look at how technology can be used for crisis response and how companies can build competitive edges after the disruption caused by the coronavirus. Two-thirds of the ideas submitted so far have been related to crisis response, according to Accelerate Estonia.

Estonia’s current president, Kersti Kaljulaid, described the hackathon as a “genuine example of an initiative that leads people to look for solutions to the challenges we face”.

“The spread of coronavirus is a threat to our health and to our social and economic environment,” she added. “It’s important to join forces and work towards solutions.”

Some of the ideas developed at the last hackathon included Zelos, a platform for connecting vulnerable, at-risk people with volunteers through a call centre and task dispatch app; and the Ventit breathing apparatus, which aims to solve some of the issues associated with ventilator shortages.

Registration for the Global Hack ends on 5 April. Teams will be announced on 7 April and participants will have the chance to communicate and collaborate until the event ends on 11 April with demos and an award ceremony.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic