Hack the Crisis – digital hackathon sought for solutions to the corona crisis
The corona crisis has taken society by storm. Almost overnight, we had to change our way of life. Many people now work from home, including a large part of the University's staff, and all education is conducted via distance. In the midst of the turmoil and the revolving change, initiatives are emerging that give hope. One such is the digital hackathon Hack the Crisis, where several of the University's students participated.
”Covid-19 has presented us with challenges that have no national borders. The crisis exposes people from all parts of the world to similar issues, and we must work together to find solutions.”
Hack the Crisis took place April 3-6 at the initiative of the Swedish government, the Agency for Digital Government (DIGG) and the organisation Openhack. The hackathon's goal was to gather creative ideas and develop concepts in an attempt to create solutions to the ongoing corona crisis. 7400 people participated, including students from Halmstad University's Master's Programme in Industrial Management and Innovation and the Master's Programme in Energy Smart Innovation in the Built Environment.
”Covid-19 has presented us with challenges that have no national borders. The crisis exposes people from all parts of the world to similar issues, and we must work together to find solutions. I feel that Hack the Crisis has shown to Sweden and the world that solidarity and unity are necessary in this situation”, says Aizhan Stanbayeva, student at the Master's Programme in Industrial Management and Innovation.
Joakim Tell, senior lecturer in industrial organisation normally teaches the students. It was he and his colleague Maya Hoveskog, associate professor, who recommended the students to sign up for the hackathon.
”We strive to keep our courses and programmes up-to-date and work on relevant challenges that enable students to link theoretical knowledge to practical application. Addressing the consequences of Covid-19 is a critical challenge for society as a whole, not only in Sweden but also throughout the world. Therefore, there is an urgent need for ideas and our students can make valuable contributions”, he says, adding:
”We hope that the participation can give the students a higher purpose and an opportunity to make a real difference. We also have many international students who can broaden the discussion by adding interesting perspectives from their home countries.”
”We strive to keep our courses and programmes up-to-date and work on relevant challenges that enable students to link theoretical knowledge to practical application.”
Contributing is the big win
Hack the Crisis had three different focus areas: Save Lives, Save Communities and Save Businesses. Within each area, two winning contributions were selected, one focusing on conceptual solutions and one focusing on digital solutions. The winners were awarded a prize sum of SEK 150,000. For Aizhan Stanbayeva, however, it was not the money that attracted:
”I wanted to participate to get a chance to contribute and make a difference. I worked with three classmates; Nazia Rumana, Mutaz Darabseh and Arjun Thyagaraj, and together we developed the concept @stayhometesting. Our system makes it possible to transport tests taken at home to a lab for analysis without touching them. In this way, the risk of infection is reduced, and testing is simplified. Our proposal did not win, but several of the mentors who gave us advice during the hackathon were interested in our solution. We hope that the system will be put to use and benefit society.”
Maya Hoveskog is pleased with the students' achievements:
”Our hope was that the students would contribute with innovative and creative ideas, and they really did. The hackathon has also got students thinking about several types of sustainable value creation – social, environmental and financial. We hope that Hack the Crisis has increased the student’s confidence, and that it has helped them see the connection between reality and what they learn during their education. And of course, we hope that they have had fun!”