Array (  => April  => 17,  => 2020 )17April
#WirVsVirus: a Hackathon Against the Pandemic
In March 2020 28,300 participants, many of whom were students, researchers, staff and alumni of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), gathered online to participate in what would become one of the world’s largest hackathons: #WirVsVirus.
As COVID-19 continues to create unprecedented challenges and problems, the German federal government decided to host a hackathon to crowdsource digital solutions. A hackathon is defined as an event, typically lasting several days, in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming and work on solutions. Inspired by a similar event in Estonia, Prof. Dr. Helge Braun, Head of the Federal Chancellery and Federal Minister for Special Affairs, organized this 48-hour event from 20-22 March 2020 with support from the German federal government and the Digital Council.
The support for the event was impressive, with 43,000 people registering and over 28,300 people participating in the event. Accordingly, numerous students, researchers and alumni of the TUM took part in this special event. Alumni duo Fabian Hoehne and Frederic Lapatschek, designed the platform CleverAckern to bring together agricultural businesses and potential harvest workers. Due to the strict entry restrictions imposed to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, many farmers in Germany lack seasonal workers. To tackle this problem, CleverAckern connects students (who now have more availability due to current school closures) with farmers in their area to provide this much needed support.
25 strangers become a winning team
Another project that became one of 20 winning projects of the hackathon was Machbarschaft. Marc Sommer, one of the 25 team members, is currently studying Business Informatics at TUM. Together, the team built a platform that bridges the gap between digital natives and luddites. Those seeking technical assistance can simply register by phone. Their request is then forwarded to an app, where catalogued helpers and volunteers work to resolve their problems. These volunteers will go shopping, pick-up medicine from the pharmacy and even walk dogs for those in need.
More projects with TUM participation can be found here.
Numerous projects are now in development mode and are supported by experienced developers from the start-up scene. “During these hours, these participants have made the Internet what it once was: a meeting space of the best and most accessible kind,” summarizes Prof. Dr. Helge Braun after the hackathon. From the TUM School of Management’s perspective, the hackathon exemplified how everyone can contribute in a time of crisis – no matter their specialization or discipline.
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