A Local Community Hackathon, Hack for Locals, organized on 9-11 October in Kharkiv, brought together over 150 participants representing the IT sector, businesses, local governance and civil society, as well as seasoned Ukrainian and foreign mentors. Together, they brainstormed smart approaches to applying new ICT solutions that support local democracy and tackle pressing social issues in Ukraine.
The event was organized by the UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, jointly with the Estonian Agency Garage48. It was funded by the European Union and the governments of Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland.
The hackathon attendees were tasked with finding inclusive and sustainable solutions to local issues faced by Ukrainian cities, especially communities in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, with the aim of broadening community involvement in problem-solving process through information technologies, creating more viable e-participation services geared towards social progress, and helping communities overcome the digital divide by creating opportunities for the most vulnerable groups to use technologies and e-governance.
After two days of intensive brainstorming, coding, pitching and discussing prototypes with mentors, the participants put forward 32 ideas and created 15 teams that would continue elaborating these ideas.
The best community-oriented concepts nominated by the hackathon jury were ideas from three teams:
- The Orphan Education Club team proposed a digital solution to support orphaned children. The idea is to create a Telegram bot to help children unleash their creativity: using the app, they would be able to choose from five categories – jewellery, clothing, home decor, toys, bags – and using step-by-step photo and video instructions create unique hand-made products that could be sold via online platforms, on a web-site, or at national and international exhibitions. The initiative is aimed at promoting better socialization and integration of orphaned children through the development of new skills, networking and financial support.
The UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme will support the development of this digital solution and its launch.
- Second place went to the SmartCom team with the Smart City mobile application prototype. This solution is designed to improve interaction between citizens and local authorities via e-democracy tools. Using this application, target communities would be able to receive timely and comprehensive updates about all events happening in their administrative unit, as well as engage more actively in the decision-making process.
This prototype will be tested in several target communities in Donetsk Oblast that have been affected by the conflict, including Sloviansk, Druzhkivka, Bakhmut, and Toretsk. The initiative is aimed at increasing trust in local authorities, and improving public safety and social cohesion in these cities.
The SmartCom team received an additional prize from the hackathon's partners – a trip to Estonia to participate in sTARTUp Day 2020, the biggest business festival in the Baltics.
- The third winning team, GrantoSphera, proposed to create an online information aggregator for NGOs and local authorities that would collect up-to-date information on open grants and competitions and make it easier for NGOs and local officials to look for additional funds for community needs. This resource can also be used for organizing grant contests and the further selection of proposals.
It is envisaged that all of the hackathon participants will get further mentoring support and opportunities to participate in online pre-accelerators and specialized training programs, as well as chances to collaborate with different businesses and government entities.
The UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme will continue supporting the winning teams, and plans to organize another hackathon in 2020.
The hackathon partners include the co-working Fabrika.space, which hosted the hackathon, SoftServe Company, Gurt Resource Centre, Yep! Startup Incubators Network, Areal Group of Companies, IT School Beetroot Academy, Kyiv Dialogue platform, Kharkiv National University of Radio Electronics, LUN.Misto project, Genesis Company, CISID CSO, sTARTUp Day Business Festival, tech startup Latitude59, Startup Wise Guys accelerator, and the CEDOS think tank.
The UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme is being implemented by four UN agencies: The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the UN Entity for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment (UN Women), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The programme is supported by 11 international partners: the European Union, the European Investment Bank, and the governments of the United Kingdom, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and Japan.