#WirVsVirus Hackathon – an uplifting story
those of you living in German speaking countries may already have seen or read stories about the large (possibly even the largest!) Hackathon called #WirVsVirus (overview page in English) which happened under the patronage of the German Government over the weekend of March 20 to 22. The hackathon had the goal of finding solutions for many of the issues we are all now facing one way or the other due to COVID-19. This video (in German) from Sunday evening gives a neat summary of the event. FAZ online has a write-up of the event (in German) and deutschland.de has a short article in English.
By now you may wonder, why I write about this as it’s not directly SAP-related. The reason is, that I had happened upon the #WirVsVirus hashtag on social media sometime last week when they were looking for submissions of which topics should be tackled during the hackathon. Due to my involvement with climate science and all the misinformation spread about that topic and the obvious parallels to what was going on with COVID-19, I submitted a proposal to find solutions to fight back against this stream of fake news regarding the corona virus. Others – including the goverment – had similar ideas so the topic “Crisis Communication” ended up as one of 48(!) topical areas to be worked on. Kicking off on Friday evening – overwhelming the Slack-platform for a while due to the sheer volume of channels and ~40,000 new members – teams for the different topics began to form spontaneously.
I ended up in one of the teams tackling topic #021 “Krisenkommunikation” (crisis communication) and am I ever happy that I did! This being my first participation in a Hackathon I had no clue of what would be happening but it turned out to be an extremely positive experience: something between 40 and 50 people who didn’t know each other, who came with many different backgrounds and skills all came together to work towards a common goal: a tool with which people can easily check if some information they received about COVID-19 is factual and therefore safe to pass on to others or if it’s misinformation which shouldn’t be shared. While we were making plans and creating outines for the tool, I initially thought that we’d perhaps be creating a kind of proof of concept (PoC) with some mock-ups in powerpoint, but I soon realised that we also had developers in our team and the goal was to actually have a working website up and running by Sunday evening, the hackathon’s deadline.
And that’s what we did end up with! The website Check-den-fakt.de is up and running in an alpha version (and in German), and you can already try it out even though work on it is continuing in the background. You can read more about the project on it’s DEVPOST page. And this short video explains what the website is all about.
This is just one of over 1,200(!) submitted videos and projects, which can all be watched via the #WirVsVirus playlist on YouTube. All submitted projects have an outline on DEVPOST where it’s also possible to filter for those belonging to a specific topical area like e.g. #021 “crisis communications”.
This type of event, conceived and staged within just a few days and which then had something between 22,000 and 45,000 participants over an intense weekend, is something very encouraging and heartening for me. It’s an example of what all is possible and that we as a society and community can get done in order to overcome this crisis as long as we all work and stick together.
Did anybody else – apart from Martin Fischer who tweeted about it – participate in this really inspiring event and if yes, which projects were you involved with? Do you think that something comparable could be staged in your country? I’m keen to read your answers in the comments!
Cheers and above all: stay healthy!