National hackathon to boost national and human security in Ukraine

08 Apr 2014

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National hackathon on communications and human security in conflict situations brought together more than 80 civic activists, IT specialists, web designers and journalists to develop innovative projects and prototypes that aim to enhance public safety and security in Ukraine. The two-day hackathon was jointly organized by the State Council of National Security and Defence, UNDP Ukraine and Social Boost and generated over 20 innovative solutions in this field.

How to ensure people’s safety and security in conflict situation?  How to select the most reliable sources of information in overcrowded media environment? How to mobilize and cooperate effectively with friends, colleagues and neighbours in conflict situations? These were just a few very urgent issues that Ukrainian innovators tried to solve in out-of-the-box way.

In her welcoming remarks, Viktoriya Syumar, Deputy Head of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine expressed her hope that the national hackathon would generate a host of new ideas and software that will enhance national and public security in conflict situations. “The greatest threats to national security do not always come from abroad, they often can be found right here, in the country. The corruption undermines trust in public institutions and there could be no sustainable public administration and security without trust of the citizens. We hope that 24 hours of non-stop creativity will result in real innovations. We hope that the participants will develop new software that would help to establish the effective public control over public officials and to identify corruption loopholes.”- she underlined.

“Ukraine has very creative, self-reliant and empowered citizens, many of whom are also IT savvy. UNDP salutes your efforts and stands ready to support you in your efforts to use information technology and innovation to build new Ukraine where no one is left behind and each voice is heard” - noted Alessandra Tisot, UNDP Resident Representative.

The hackathon participants have generated 11 ideas, three of which have been selected as winners in three categories.

Zinoviy Matchyshyn and Mykhailo Budilov’s project named “SemaSearch” has won in the category “Information security and news visualisation.” The innovators plan to develop an anticorruption website that accumulates open sources data about the property and business interests of public officials and analyzes the links among them, their relatives and friends to identify potential corruption risks.

Alexander Rybak’s project called the «Swiss knife» - a mobile app that gathers information from government agencies and informs a user about a threats ranging from military action to natural and made-made disasters - has won in the category “Personal and public security”. The app will provide a wealth of practical information on civil preparedness, including addresses of closest civil defense shelters.

“For me the hackathon was not just an excellent opportunity to test my ideas, share them with civic activists like me and try out my skills. The issue of information and personal security is especially timely and urgent for Ukraine today and I am happy that I can contribute and be part of the solution”- noted Alexander.

Valery Reshetar‘s idea «B-beeper» - a mobile app that maps dangerous spots and informs a user of potential threats and safety measures - won in the category  "Self-organization in conflict context".

According to Valeriy the hakhathons help social activists to find likeminded people. “The hackathon gave our team a push to get together, generate an idea, develop a project and bring it to life. In the next couple of days, the first version of the mobile app and the website will be ready. It will be an indispensable tool for emergencies when traditional  means of communications are not be accessible as is often the case during conflicts” – he noted.

Each winner will receive a grant in the amount of USD 1,000 to complete the projects and pilot the prototypes.  According to Denis Gursky, the  coordinator of public platforms SocialBoost, similar hackathons will be conducted in Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Donetsk and Odessa later this year.

Drive for innovation has long been the focus of the UNDP Ukraine development agenda. Through a number of hackathons, innovation labs, and Social Good Summit meet-ups, the United Nations development agency brings together on a regular basis leading thinkers and practitioners, social innovation champions, students, academia, business representatives, innovators, and trend-setters to find solutions to the challenges that Ukraine faces. Since 2012, more than 30 UNDP-supported e-governance initiatives  help Ukraine to become more connected, transparent, inclusive and corruption-free.