April 9th, 2020, Tallinn (Estonia): On the day the state of emergency was declared in Estonia, a public-private e-hackathon was held as one of the first crisis responses to offer quick and feasible solutions to combat the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic. Estonia has a number of digital and globally successful startups which include four unicorn digital startups Skype, TransferWise, Bolt and Playtech valued at over 1 billion dollars.
Named “the most advanced digital society in the world” by Wired, Estonians have experienced first-hand how a digital society is a true necessity in emergency situations such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. While doctors are working hard in hospitals to take care of the sick, the public and private sectors have worked on e-solutions to tackle the crisis with innovative answers.
The hackathon has produced projects that have already started operating. With the state chatbot Suve now up and running on many public sites, answering pandemic-related questions. Additionally, a platform named Zelos that matches volunteers with people needing assistance in the crisis, and platform Share The Force helping companies share the workforce that would otherwise remain idle, are also successfully working.
According to Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, organizing an online hackathon demonstrates the attitude of Estonians, who at difficult times do their best to start working on solutions. “In difficult times, we always have two options: remain seated when the ground is burning or start searching for solutions. We chose the second option,” said President Kaljulaid. “Startup-government collaboration is in the DNA of the Estonian digital society. 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 being used rapidly to turn the crisis into economic opportunities,” President Kaljulaid added.
Estonia’s country-wide COVID-19-hacking initiative has already gone international and is expected to be adopted by other countries such as The Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, etc.
Source: PRNewswire/Knowledge Bylanes