Estonia came up with ideas to tackle the pandemic through a hackathon

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New Delhi (NVI): In response to the spread of COVID-19 in Europe, Estonia, a recognized leader in the digital economy, held a three-day hackathon to tackle the effects of the pandemic.

The initiative went on to become the largest online hackathon in Estonia, and it came up with 1,000 programmers with solutions to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and create competitive advantages for the post-crisis period.

The hackathon was launched in March, just hours after the country declared a state of emergency and closed its borders.

But the virtual event attracted a truly global line-up of participants, with people joining in from more than 20 countries and across 14 timezones.

However, to qualify for inclusion, projects had to demonstrate their impact on the coronavirus crisis, be capable of being tested within 48 hours and they had to give Estonia a competitive advantage in a post-COVID world.

The best five were chosen to receive USD 5,700 seed funding to allow their creators to develop their ideas to the next stage – some have already gone into production to tackle the pandemic.

The winners of the hackathon was, an application to connect self-isolating vulnerable people with volunteers willing to help them is among the winning five.

Another was the ventilator which utilizes a standard hospital airbag, but automates the process of squeezing it using readily available machine parts and a hospital’s existing compressed air supply.

One team created an interactive medical volunteer database which enables doctors to get the help they need in a crisis, while another invented an app which allows companies to share workers, rather than laying them off in the pandemic.

Lastly, the organizers awarded funding to a health monitoring app which can be used to track the extent of an outbreak. As well as helping users identify their symptoms, the app also warns of nearby virus hotspots. It is already being used in Australia, as well as Estonia.

In addition to this, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid said the, hackathon embodied the spirit of Estonians who like to stay calm and tackle a problem head on.

“This is a genuine example of an initiative that leads people to look for solutions to the challenges we face,” she said.

According to a recent survey by the United Nations (UN), the country is one of the most advanced digital societies, ranked in the top three nations for e-government development.

Almost all state services are online and more than a third of Estonians use digital ID to access public services. During the lockdown, 99 per cent of government services remained available online in Estonia.

Apart from this, the World Economic Forum (WEF) in its report, named Estonia as Europe’s most entrepreneurial country. Europe’s Hidden Entrepreneurs, which said that entrepreneurship is a key driver of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

However, the nation is home to more than a thousand tech start-ups and four unicorns – tech start-ups that are valued at more than USD 1 billion. In the 2019 parliamentary elections, 43.8 per cent of voters cast their ballots electronically.

-RJV