President makes global call to combat coronavirus via hackathon

President Kersti Kaljulaid.
President Kersti Kaljulaid. Source: Office of the President

President Kersti Kaljulaid has made a global call to join the online hackathon community to stand up to the spread of coronavirus, Baltic News Service reports.

Two organizations, Accelerate Estonia and Garage48, set up an online hackathon last weekend, with over 1,100 people from more than 20 countries and 14 time zones gathering to develop solutions to help Estonia emerge from the coronavirus crisis and create competitive advantages for the post-crisis period.

Lithuania, Poland, Finland, India, Latvia, Ukraine, Canada, Germany, the U.K. and others are now doing the same, BNS says.

"In difficult times we have always two options: remain seated when the ground is burning or start searching for solutions. We chose the latter option" the president said of the hackathon initiatives.

"I appeal to the international community to call you up to join our initiative and start working on finding and creating solutions, for the reason to minimize coronavirus' socio-economic impact on our lives," she continued.

"Coronavirus has had a strong impact on our health and socio-economic environment. Now, when the crisis shows up our weak points, it is important that the public and private sector join their forces to start developing innovative ways to leave from the forced situation upright. Bringing together the brightest minds that are willing to be part of finding and creating the solutions, is the best start to building our future for the post-crisis period," she went on, adding that the work would have positive effects on a post-coronavirus international community.

Startup-government collaboration is in the DNA of the Estonian digital society, the president said, and has been developed in close collaboration with tech companies for more than 20 years.

"With around 1,000 examples, Estonia is among the top countries by startup per capita. In terms of startup regulation, Estonia is the best in the world according to a study by Index Ventures from late 2018. This asset is now rapidly used to turn the crisis into economic opportunities," she said.

Garage48 and Accelerate Estonia are actively sharing their experiences with other countries looking to organize a similar online hackathon. Estonia selected the best five teams that got an investment to realize their idea and accelerate its potential. The selected ideas are very diverse, Garage48 says, ranging from a breathing apparatus solution and medical volunteer management database to a workforce sharing platform which connects B2B with the temporary workforce, helping people find temporary jobs when they have been left in the dark about their current ones in the ongoing crisis.

Accelerate Estonia and Garage48 have created the Hack the Crisis Global Community landing page to centralize all the local events support for all the new organizers. The team will share all the information needed to build up a strong online hackathon event. Accelerate Estonia and Garage48 are also organizing a global hackathon event planned for two weeks from now.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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