How can we as a society join forces to master the challenges we are facing in the wake of the Corona crisis? Seven social initiatives from all over Germany asked themselves this question and came up with a rather unusual answer: A giant virtual Hackathon. In only one week’s time, they got support from the German Federal Government and set up a digital space to ideate, develop and test solutions. 43000 people answered their call - among them several Futurice experts.
The #WirVsVirus Hackathon, which was held in Germany between March 20th and 22nd, proved to be the largest virtual hackathon that ever existed - worldwide! 43000 people from various backgrounds joined the call to develop solutions for pressing issues in the context of the current corona crisis.
Previous to the Hackathon, citizens as well as ministries had the opportunity to report challenges they are facing in times of corona. The topics varied - from the distribution of relief supplies over the organisation of neighbourhood support to the mental health of people in crisis or the digitalisation of public administration.
The results were incredible: Within 48 hours, individuals teamed up, worked intensively on challenging projects and eventually submitted more than 1500 concepts.
Some projects where Futuriceans got involved:
SafeTicket: A lockdown app for better crisis management, which enables smart approval workflows and supports people who are unsure if they are allowed to leave their house during lockdown
Timely: A smart appointment system that relieves medical professionals and reduces the infection risk for everyone by shortening waiting periods and separating suspected Covid-19 cases from other patients
krisenheld:in: A platform to connect people who are affected by unemployment or short-time working with supply-critical enterprises in need of extra hands (e.g. agriculture, supermarkets, logistics)
After a public vote (via YouTube likes) and the evaluation of an expert jury, the best projects will be awarded, further developed and funded by the government. The winners will be announced on 29.3.2020.
However, the energy that people put into the other projects will not be lost. Government officials are already working on a digital support program to ensure that more prototypes will become viable solutions for the public good. The Hackathon will mark the starting point of an ongoing process to collaboratively develop solutions for the challenges posed by COVID-19.
Facts & Figures
- Solutions from society for society
- Duration: 48 hours
- To date largest virtual hackathon worldwide: 42968 participants - 1924 innovators - 2922 mentors
- People with different backgrounds and skills - from strategy & business consultants to developers, designers, marketeers and domain experts in health, law, governmental work, etc.
- Organizers: German Federal Goverment, Tech4Germany, Code for Germany, Initiative D21, Impact Hub Berlin, ProjectTogether, Prototype Fund and SEND e.V
- Similar initiatives happening all over the world right now, with Futuriceans also supporting events in Finland and Norway
Our role at the Hackathon
Futurice employees joined as mentors and participants. In both roles we were happy to share our experiences in business development, storytelling and agile project management as well as work on ideation, prototyping and user testing. As mentors, we were also able to directly support questions around remote collaboration and useful tools for it - both topics we are quite familiar with after years of virtual teamwork. Some groups even decided to use our Lean Service Creation Method, which made us especially proud.
Of course a virtual hackathon of this size has its own kind of struggles. It was challenging to agree on a common collaboration tool, for instance, and when thousands of people tried to register within a couple of hours, the Slack servers were overwhelmed. However, such issues were resolved within hours, which really impressed us and ensured a smooth experience for everyone.
Our impression after 48 hours of Ideation, Development and Testing
The #WirVsVirus Hackathon was simply astonishing! It is impressive how fast 43000 people gathered behind a common goal and grew into highly productive teams to find solutions for some of the most pressing challenges in times of Covid-19. In only 2 days, more than 1500 projects were handed in! This proves that virtual teamwork and remote work can work just as fine as face to face meetings, and that the current situation does not have to slow down productivity or creative ideas.
We should keep the momentum and all the positive energy that this hackathon created as a reminder that better days are coming and that we are stronger as a community. Let’s start building a more resilient future together.