Hack the Crisis: Continuity with our Community

As it has been whispered in Innovation Centre Kosovo’s social channels in this time of global turmoil, April 2nd to 4th thus signaled the start of a completely new form of challenge that is a new experience for both innovation agencies and the people taking part in them! That’s right, I’m talking about a challenge hosted completely online!

In a figuratively anticipated drumroll, the Innovation Centre Kosovo (ICK) supported Embassy of Sweden, Embassy of Norway, GIZ Kosovo, EU Office in Prishtina, Municipality of Prishtina, Gjirafa.com, UNDP, UNICEF as well as tech enthusiasts have hollered for a call to action for the people to come up with creative ideas and solutions in this time of pandemic quarantine. Inspired by Estonia, who started the movement, and by Hack for Crisis Finland, Kosovo joined in on the initiative to do more for the disadvantaged communities and people who are suffering great losses due to the malicious spread of COVID-19 and focus the pent energy on inventive solutions! Laid in a Hackathon form, the top three teams selected by a jury will win 3 awards respectively and use the reward to implement the idea. Not to mention higher education scholarships offered to the scholarly inclined participants in need of an opportunity, courtesy Universum and Riinvest Universities granted.

108 applications, 400 community members and 38 teams selected, all joining together for a better tomorrow.

The Hackathon proceeded online, debuting with a Facebook Livestream Opening Ceremony where welcoming and starting speeches were delivered by Executive Director of ICK Uranik Begu, the Mayor of Prishtina Shpend Ahmeti, Ambassador of Sweden in Kosovo Karin Hernmarck Ahliny, UNDP Executive Maria Suokko, CEO of Gjirafa Mergim Cahani and Office Manager of Training and Events in ICK Shpend Lila to kickstart the Hackathon online and give birth to a new tradition in the events profile!

“While the methodology isn’t the top pick of how we would move forward with events usually,” remarks Mr Begu “we believe it is the optimum time to test our strength as a community and the reliance of our products meant to make bridges connect virtually and proceed in this delicate time with ideas that unite use better than ever by each other and for each other”.

Mayor Ahmeti also relays that “The less tech-savvy community has always been vocal of the distaste they felt in regards to the rapid digitalization of our society and always been that critical of it. It is fortunate that we get to reap its benefits today to establish something wonderful!”

“Society does seem to be stressed with the status quo and we don’t know how long it will last, our cohesion however is a crucial element that will make this time not only pass but become a valuable experience for us and the future of our resilient abilities” adds Miss Ahliny.

“I have witnessed the growing issues in the past decades being environmental problems, inequality and a general sort of distrust towards each other as human beings. And this pandemic, while it is a health crisis, is also a humanitarian crisis. It will leave political, economic and societal scars. So, it really is up to all of us to step up, come together, commit, generate ideas and find solutions” pitches in Miss Suokko.

Mr Cahani also gives input “We always, as a tech-savvy community, state how we can do many things that will perpetuate the development of Kosovo and make it the best version of itself, but now is the time to put those words in effect and prove to not only the world but also to ourselves that we can do this and we can do more than what we think we can if we try”.

Wrapped up by elevating words by Mr Lila “The social distancing, as an important way for us to keep safe and keep those around us safe, has made us resort to less selected techniques of execution in this Hackathon, but with the help of our wonderful supporters, we prevail and go on with our innovative tremor stronger and wiser”.
The time proceeded with the Idea Collection panel closed with each team registered along with a description of the problem they intend to fix broken down into team forums on SLACK and getting on to work.

On the second day, the event veered the spotlight to our glorious Ace card for this all-new featured event: Mentors and introducing them!

Mentoring is an amazing opportunity to get valuable feedback and insights to take ideas flowing into the Hackathon to the next level.

After a brief introduction of the 60 successful mentors, work continues with their supervision and advisory input helping the teams build a concise structure for their ideas and the stepping stones of how they can implement it realistically and as grand as possible.

Checkpoint after checkpoint, the teams build upon their ideas at length.

For informational apps to help people be conscious and alert of many issues regarding the current situation, teams like Cross Sourcing, AntiCov, InfoSource, Distancovid19, Viral Alert, Ka mja Majt, Fuck the Fake, etc. These groups try to use this form of expression to help inform individuals on the intricacies of the pandemic at large as well as accessing sites with resources and advisory columns many need in lieu of media fear mongering potentially setting off citizens with no access to legitimate information.

With regards to health issues as well in helping people whether become alert or do check-ups and disinfect their hands, it came down to Green, Veq Shnosh, Hap Per Ty, Sani-Door. In moments when people aren’t sure if it’s just a cough or if they’ve spread their lack of health to others they’ve corresponded with, health is a priority that these teams have worked hard for us to take seriously and concentrate upon thoroughly!

“What about mental health?” you may ask. Well, ask no more as many teams such as Converse Hotline where people can call if anxiety or claustrophobic tendencies hit, Qka me bo for potential activities that you could be doing instead of thinking about how much the status quo sucks as well as Tempus and Karantina-rks, coming up with fabulous ideas to make time well spent and provide services that otherwise restrict people from their daily calming routines and healthy mental lives!

“What about mental health?” you may ask. Well, ask no more as many teams such as Converse Hotline, Qka me bo, Tempus and Karantina-rks came up with fabulous ideas to make time well spent and assist those fragile in the current events and in need of support!

The Economics of it all are not to be overlooked, however. With two teams like the Isolated Heroes and Save Kafiqat offering gift-cards for discounts with favorite businesses to use after quarantine, the economy might not dip in the anticipated negative way we predict but instead beat faster and heavier than before! By making sure that loved businesses are kept alive via circulation, these guys intend to make people not forget life outside their house and outside what’s left in the fridge.

The glue of it all is always education. And what better way to help kids, parents and teachers rendered to next to impossible positions than by making websites and apps that help navigate the system? For education and access books online for learning instead of endangering oneself for a library borrow with the teams Digital Library to read PDFs online, Single On Line Management Education for parents, teachers and students alike, along with E-Learning Kosovo, Online Exams, EduKo, Online Platform For Education, etc.

It wasn’t until the third day when they each got to present their ideas online via short presentation videos in either English or Albanian for the first time in front of people outside of Slack channels and Google meet for the grand three awarded spots, the People’s Choice Awards and Most Promising IdeaQ All of these varying in the circle amounting to thousands of Euros for investment!

Via Facebook live, a more in-depth individualized concept of each idea was presented now that every participant was up to the task and trained in their own lingo on how to show the quality of their project.

The fruit of hard work amounted to the finale, The Certification Ceremony (click here to view livestream).
The winners were selected by the jury of UNDP Official Arbnora Gojani Mazreku, CEO of Gjirafa Mergim Cahani and Founder of Dua.com Valon Asani.

Thus, the winners being at fourth place (as most promising idea); Quarantine Management System with €1,000! A group of people designing and implementing specific educational apps and platforms to help the education and school virtual system of study stagnation prominent for all inexperienced with much-too-sophisticated technology; simplified and helpful!

Occupying third placeBike Delivery team with €1,000! To generate sales flow for both consumers and businesses unable to function, this team came up with a bike delivery system to make purchases (thereby making the economy also) happen!

Tailing the main spot at second place;PyPeteam with €2,000! A knowledge market platform where one can browse facts, solved concerns, learning systems and all sorts of functions that adhere to proper informational needs as a channel of knowledge.

Final and grandest of all at first place;Team Avengers with € 3,000! A team creating a platform where people can ask for help and give out advice through an app that allows questions and suggestions during the tumultuous crisis.

Implementing concepts in fields of education, economical flow via delivery for business goods and other handy ideas might just be the first milestones to beating an epidemic’s horrendous effects to the country, and we’re up to the task!
Looking forward to the implementation and what each idea can do this time of need as people witness the future innovative steps of our ICK team hopefully more and more each day.

For now, we move forward and innovate a better path for all of us soon.
Stay tuned for more future events and stay safe out there!