Mar 16, 2020 / merit

Fighting the COVID-19 pandemic with the power of community

In times of crisis, when things are progressing fast and measures need to be taken, ingenious minds gather to find solutions to this unprecedented epidemic. More than 1000 people participated in this one of a kind public-private initiative and after intense 48 hours, 30 volunteer-based teams showcased their solutions to fellow fighters, public sector representatives and private ventures.

During the course of this weekend, together with Accelerate Estonia and with the help of the amazing community, an online hackathon called Hack the Crisis, was put together in record time to tackle the Coronavirus pandemic crisis and emerge from the crisis stronger than ever. This initiative was strongly supported by the Minister of Foreign Trade and Information Technology, Kaimar Karu who co-opened the final webinar event with full gratitude to all the participants and teams:


“I'm so excited and grateful that more than 1000 people from around the world decided, with only hours to prepare, to dedicate their whole weekend during this challenging, turbulent time to work together as a true community for the benefit of all of us. Thank you!”



President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid showed her full support to the event while co-opening the final event and talked about how important it is to come together and showcase the knowledge that Estonia has been working for 20 years:


“I’m so happy to welcome the international crowd digital community who is trying to fight this difficult situation. Now is the time to prove the concept that we’ve been working on for 20 years - being a digitally transformed nation! We have to help each other in this crisis, it can not only be the government or the crisis committee but it also absolutely needs to be ourselves and our digital community. I’m quite sure that some of these ideas will be workable and some of these ideas will save lives - even if one life is saved, by taking this action, we are grateful.”


We are a small country but our actions are big and show the initiative that different sectors and members of our community take. We will not just sit, we will act and hack. Viljar Lubi, Deputy Secretary General for Economic Development said that “This is an excellent example of taking the initiative when everything is on flames and concrete actions need to be taken. Yes, we are a small country but our online hackathon is already an inspiration for other countries!”


Here comes the list of winners who will get full support and a 5k from Accelerate Estonia to use for further development during the emergency situation: 


1. Zelos - Connecting people at risk with volunteers via call center  

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 the 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 organized 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 volunteer 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 for the 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.


All the ideas that were developed during the weekend can found HERE


Huge thank you goes out to the organizational team - Kai Isand, Merit Vislapu, Mikk Vainik, Calum Cameron, Elis Tootsman and Triin Ilves and to our mentors who chipped in their time and knowledge in a short notice and managed to support the teams in their busy lives.


Thank you to our community members and sponsors for offering the much-needed help for the teams to make their ideas into reality.


We believe that this event was another great example of how strong networking and partnership opportunities between the public and private sectors can create something extraordinary. According to Viljar Lubi, Deputy Secretary General for Economic Development, in times of crisis, “We have two options: fight or flight. When there is nowhere to run and we have the tools to fight, let’s do it.”


(During the online hackathon Hack the Crisis, we asked the members of our Slack group to send in their selfies)


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