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Digital state hackathon connects Estonian IT companies with ministries

Garage48 and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications hosted the second digital state hackathon on May 29-31. The event connects ministries to companies, who spend 48h on solving real world issues. Winning teams were awarded by the President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, who paid a surprise visit to the event.

Siim Sikkut, government CIO, was happy to see so many companies participating and helping solve real-life problems in the public sector. „I hope the hackathon leads to continued collaboration between the state and businesses. Many of the solutions created here can already be applied and they help make state affairs more effective, easier and comfortable for the people,” said Sikkut.

The winner of the hackathon, cybersecurity company Guardtime, aimed to create a trustworthy way of collecting proof for victims of domestic violence to be used later – for example at the police or in court. „It’s an incredibly delicate topic and delicate data. We used blockchain to help victims collect digital data in a way that is hidden from the abuser and that cannot be changed later,“ said Silver Kelk, team lead. The chairman of the jury, Siim Sikkut, also agreed that that winning team addressed an important social issue and he added that the technical solution was strong.

„Every person and company is looking for ways how they can contribute towards a better world. This hackathon format is a really great opportunity to solve problems and help make Estonia better as a country and society,“ Kelk explained that it was interesting for the participants, too, to see how a practical solution can be built within 48 hours. „We are happy to have had the chance to contribute towars solving such an important issue. The hackathon is a great way to try and help make Estonia a better place.” The company donated their award prize of 7 000 euros to a victim support charity. Kelk also expressed hope that the donation and further collaboration with ministries will help alleviate the problem.

Guardtime was represented by a four-member team, lead by business development specialist Silver Kelk with design lead Veiko Jääger, software engineer Joosep Simm and user experience engineer Carol Tikerperi.

The second digital state hackathon brought together 13 technology companies that tried to solve real life problems from the public sector in 48 hours. The second place was awarded to Codeborne, who created a solution for the Office of the President for planning and managing large-scale events, and the third prize went to Nortal for an app that helps coordinate the work of volunteer search and rescue parties.

The story was first published in Estonian here.

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