High-tech country Estonia organized an online hackathon to step against coronavirus

16. Mar 2020

Accelerate Estonia and Garage48 organized an online hackathon to develop solutions to help Estonia emerge from the coronavirus crisis and create competitive advantages for the post-crisis period. The initiative, which has become the largest online hackathon in Estonia, was opened by President Kersti Kaljulaid and Minister of Foreign Trade and Information Technology Kaimar Karu.

According to President Kersti Kaljulaid, organizing an online hackathon demonstrates the attitude of Estonians, who at difficult times do not lose their heads but start working on solutions. “It is my sincere pleasure to see that this initiative, organized in just a few hours, has become an international event bringing together more than 1,000 participants from more than 20 countries and 14 timezones. This is a genuine example of an initiative that leads people to look for solutions to the challenges we face, ”said President Kaljulaid.

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

Viljar Lubi, idea author of Accelerate Estonia, said the online hackathon is a great example for other countries. “We just proved that it’s possible to organize an event with international impact and that just with some few hours. In difficult times we have always two options: remain seated when the ground is burning or start searching for solutions. We chose the last option! I hope that other countries will follow our initiative, the Accelerate Estonia and Garage48 teams have confirmed their willingness to share their experience with other countries looking to organize a similar online hackathon, ”says Lubi.

“I have to say that It is gratifying to see that the European Commission has also taken the initiative here. Specifically, the European Commission is inviting start-ups to participate in a competition seeking innovative and technological solutions to prevent the spread and impact of the coronavirus. At this point, I can say that among the ideas that have taken part in our online hackathon, there are a large number of those who, within 48 hours, have developed solutions that have not only a perspective in Estonia but a global impact, ”Lubi added.

The online hackathon was mentored by renowned and acclaimed entrepreneurs including Martin Villig (Bolt), Kaarel Kotkas (Veriff), Marko Russiver (Guaana), Siim Sikkut, Märt Aro, Allan Martinson and many others.

The best ideas:

1. Zelos – Connecting people at risk with volunteers via call centre + task dispatch app

The hardships of the most vulnerable people in the society, eg those who don’t have any family members or friends to help them, have been gravely exacerbated by the corona crisis. There are many people who would be willing to help, but currently,  there is no good way to connect people in need with volunteers.

2. Ventit Breathing apparatus

1% of people who get coronavirus develop Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and need a breathing machine to survive, called ventilators. In case of a pandemic, there aren’t enough to go around. For instance, in Italy their doctors have to choose who lives and who dies purely on the availability of such machines – no doctor should have to do this.

3. Vanemuine – medical volunteer management database

Today we lack an organised and secure database to find people with suitable medical competences based on their location and call them to action.

When in a crisis situation, there is a need for medical volunteer resources. Today’s situation is that volunteers information is kept in unsecure datasheets. It is very time-consuming to reach out and check the availability of volunteers.

4. Share Force One – workforce sharing platform that connects B2B sides for temporary workforce exchange

Due to the coronavirus crisis, a lot of companies and employees have been left to deal with the unknown – will they have jobs and salaries? Some companies are in need of additional workforce and others are facing the reality of not being able to offer jobs anymore.

Although this problem has risen like a shooting star during the past couple of days, the excess of workforce and need of additional workforce are problems that companies have to deal with all the time.

5. Corona-tracker by Velmio

There’s mounting pressure on the healthcare system and a lack of real-time data sources for individuals and governments to monitor the situation.

The virus is very contagious and although most cases are mild, the illness is deadly for certain groups of people. There’s currently no way to self-monitor your risk or recovery from home in real-time, and it will become infeasible for all of us to bombard our doctors and hospitals constantly for advice.