Hackathons to fight COVID-19

The public tech society is on the rise to help mitigating the devastating consequences of the global pandemic. How? In the form of hackathons, a design sprint-like event in which programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers, project managers, domain experts, and others collaborate intensively on software projects.

The first one I joined was the WirVsVirusHack under the patronage of the German Federal Government and boy, that was a storm of people who wanted to join and help: 42'968 participants, 1'924 innovators providing ideas and 2'922 mentors eager to help with their expertise! Big numbers (probably the biggest hackathon ever!?) with big implications. On the one had, there has been a lot of enthusiasm, support, goodwill and great ideas, which made it a fantastic experience!!! On the other hand, it was abundantly clear that this hackathon was set up in no time; deadlines were missed, tools weren't able to support so many people, and overall it felt a bit messy. It was just too obvious that the team organizing this event was running at full-speed and had to improvise at all ends to not loose to much valuable time. However, I think now is the right time to give them a big round of applause for their achievements, their commitment and their stamina! It wasn't easy, it wasn't perfect, but: It was important to get things going. Sometimes Done is better than Perfect!

If you are curious about the projects, ideas and prototypes which have been developed, I recommend you to have a look at the playlist with all the pitch videos submitted as part of the hackathon: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPv_kdljMHmt4kLNB7QGn0g/playlists

And now it's time for the second round; this time organized by the team behind HackZurich:
#CodeVsCOVID19 (Twitter: https://twitter.com/hashtag/CodeVsCOVID19)

CodeVsCOVID19: HackZurich, widely known as Europe’s largest hackathon, under the patronage of the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA), mobilizes a global innovation ecosystem of several thousand developers, scientists, creative minds, medicals and epidemiologists to develop open-source prototypes to address the
current COVID-19 challenges.

On Friday March 20, HackZurich reached their global network of 15 000 developers, engineers and data scientists to join the 72 hours online non-profit hackathon starting March 27, 5 pm CET , to activate the collective intelligence and solve challenges regarding COVID-19. Physicians, health experts, scientists, startups and creative individuals are joining to collaborate on solving the most pressing health and socio-economic challenges in the current crisis.

Obviously, they have a ton of experience in how to organize massive "physical" hackathons, but I guess doing so in a "virtual" setting is all new to them as well. So let's see how this is going! If you want to sign up, you can do so until Friday, March 27, 4pm latest.

Results of #CodeVsCOVID19 will hopefully be dozens of open-source prototypes, developed online within 72-hours, starting on 27 March, 5 pm CET, to 30 March. They will aim to make the lives of any affected parties easier, prevent further damage and manage the current challenging situation. Solutions will be awarded and published online to be further developed and implemented thereafter. You may want to jump over to Devpost and check out the projects as they start rollin'.

And there's more to come after that: The #VersusVirus initiative will build on the solutions and prototypes previously developed. From April 2nd to 4th, within 48-hours, courageous and innovative ideas with a special focus on Swiss challenges will be developed. The two initiatives thematically build on each other and the results are then jointly summarized, communicated and followed up.

Let's get things done!

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