How Estonia hacked Covid-19
Estonia declared a state of emergency on 12 March at 22.30. On March 13 at noon, the startup ecosystem led by Garage 48 and accelerate Estonia launched “Hack the Crisis” an online hackathon (forty-eight hours non-stop workshops) bringing together more than 1000 people remotely by videoconference.
The objective was to select the five best projects which each received 5,000 euros to be developed in the wake. A repeat of the exercise is planned for next month, this time with new participants: the European Commission and a Singaporean organization whose aim is to find solutions for the post-crisis period. 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 go and we have the tools to fight, let’s fight”.
An example that characterizes the DNA of this startup nation: the ability to react instantly, the use of imagination to find new solutions and the immediate move to action. It should be noted that none of these three pillars is based on a technological imperative 🙂
I share with you Anett Numa’s exclusive interview, (Speaker at the Estonian Briefing Center), who shares with us her first feedback on the crisis management in his country.
How is Estonia coping with the Covid 19 pandemic?
It is a difficult and challenging time for the entire world. However, I think we are a nation-state that is best prepared for the consequences of these crises. Digitalization has made our life easier here in many ways, especially today. As the government is fully digital and providing us 99% of public service online, these services remain online and easily accessible. Therefore, people who work in the public sector can also work remotely from home and we can avoid spreading the virus. A particular thing about Estonia is that whenever we are facing tough times, we shift more creative. That is exactly what happened now. Just on the same day after the Government declared the state of emergency we organized an online hackathon Hack the Crisis. Five of the ideas received funding for immediate execution. A list of the solutions:
- Velmio – a corona-tracker to self-monitor one’s risk or recovery from home in real-time
- Zelos – connecting people at risk with volunteers via call center
- Suve the chatbot guarantees trustworthy and accurate information on the crisis
- Vanemuine – a medical volunteer management database
- Share Force One – a workforce sharing platform that connects B2B sides for temporary workforce exchange
What are the benefits of the digital state in this situation?
As all of our schools are also closed our students need to do distance learning. We have made ICT work for education and have been using a number of solutions to support remote learning. Therefore, students and teachers can still communicate and work on the e-School platform. Right now we are also sharing Estonia’s best practices and trying to support other countries because we are in this crisis altogether.
How did you have to adjust your work?
As all the borders are closed our delegations had to cancel their physical visits to Estonia but we are now offering all these groups webinars and live-talk over video-bridge. I think it is a brilliant example for the rest of the world that the digital government has so many advantages and can help the state and citizens during difficult times. It is time to make the best out of this time and hopes the world will get back to normal soon.
Violaine Champetier de Ribes
Co-author: The full digital Nation, Estonia a break in the GAFAM wall
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