August 20, 2020

Global tech community standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Belarus - tangible solutions built from scratch within 48 hours in a weekend hackathon marathon

The Global Hack

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Past weekend, 14th - 16th August, a Build for Belarus hackathon got organized in order to bring rapid solutions to the problems Belarusians are currently facing. The event welcomed everyone with ideas that could be turned into critically needed solutions in an intense two-day weekend hackathon. Participants were able to enter the hackathon with their own unique idea and build a team or join an existing one. Prompt responses and valuable contributions from voluntary partakers came in from different parts of the world.

“At times of crisis, there is nothing more powerful than people coming together for one cause. While most of the Belarusians stood on the streets in peaceful protest,The Global Hackinvited the global tech community to come together online to build solutions for a better future for Belarus. The event participants worked with four topics: civil support, communication, healthcare and safety during a 48-hour online hackathon and the results are more than just impressive. Ideas change the world, people make it happen” says Kai Isand, one of the leaders of The Global Hack movement.

Sergey Barysiuk, IT entrepreneur from Belarus, says he’s amazed at the strong support and willingness of the global tech community to contribute to building the future for Belarus. “Over the last week, we saw a formation of Belarusian society, unity and willingness to help where it is needed. It’s amazing to see support not only by Belarusians but by other people in the world. Participants were from India, UK, France, Norway, Estonia, Israel, Austria, United States of America and so on.Truly, technology and truth do not have borders. We love you guys.”

According to Ragnar Sass, global tech community spokesperson and Build for Belarus organizer, the solutions developed during the online hackathon have a significant impact on today’s Belarus. “The solutions developed during the hackathon, are already workable so that means they already have a strong impact on the Belarusians. For example, participants developed a platform which helps to find those, who have been missing during the protests. Also, a map application was created where people can track where public events are taking place and a help-line, which is integrated with the Telegram app. I must say there were many and many remarkable ideas and I truly believe they will continue with their developments.”


The most impactful solutions, 3 winning ideas, generated at#BuildforBelarushackathon have been announced (in no particular order):

GeoBel- a real-time map of the events in#Belarusbased on the information from the NEXTA telegram channel and crowdsourced data

PeopleFinder- an online system to help people find their disappeared relatives and friends and place search requests

Tut Pomogut Bot- Telegram bot for secure & fast peer-to-peer help management

GeoBel

What kind of problem are you trying to solve and what solution are you hoping to bring?

People in Belarus are afraid to go out and protest peacefully. Protests are hard to coordinate since the government arrests and tortures organizers. We want to help solve those problems by creating the 'Waze for protests' - a crowdsourced live map of the danger areas, medical points, gatherings and other important information.

Could you break down and explain how exactly will your solution work?

Belarusians can see a live map with markers of police, protesters, landmarks, medical points, requests for help and coordination efforts. Protesters can add events on the map with information and photos that would be attached to the reported location.

Additional markers are added to the map automatically by pulling data from the popular NEXTA LIVE Telegram channel and analyzing the messages for location information.

Protesters can click on the added markers to see full details and even click on a URL that links back to the original Telegram message to validate its authenticity.

Where can people find more information about your work and product?

Our app can be found here.

People can contact our support team directly from the app using Telegram, provide useful feedback and get technical support.
Demo link from here.

Interesting facts & bits of info about GeoBel team:

- We had team members from all around the globe - USA, East Europe, Australia

- The map infrastructure we use is highly accurate, reliable and provided to us for free by the 'ESRI Australia' company in which one of our team members actually works.

- One of our team members lives in a motorhome and worked for the entire hackathon from there.

PeopleFinderWhat kind of problem are you trying to solve and what solution are you hoping to bring?

PeopleFinder is a self-explanatory name that describes our main purpose to find people. The current protests in Belarus motivated us to come up with a solution that would make it possible to find loved ones who got lost.

Could you break down and explain how exactly will your solution work?

As for the technical part, PeopleFinder is mainly Telegram bot (@BelarusPeopleFinder) that allows people to upload pictures from a protest to help our system to get more data and to find their relatives or friends by uploading their pictures.

In this case, our bot will tell whether or not we have the person in the database. With this information, people could find out if the missing person was at a protest.Also, we promote Google GPS-tracking and its opportunity to share location with trusted contacts. For that, we have an automatic message with clear instructions in the bot that aims to increase awareness about this tool and hopefully minimize the number of missing people.
Additionally, we have a single-page website that is an alternative way to use our service.

Where can people find more information about your work and product?

Our pitch can be found from the linkhere.
PeopleFinder bothere.

and the mentioned single-site page for alternative usehere.

Interesting facts and bits of info about PeopleFinder team:

Our back-end developer is a 16-year-old!He is in charge of the Telegram bot and collecting data from the open sources, as well as training the machine to recognize faces. He is truly our diamond and it would be impossible to accomplish what we have without him.


TutPomogutbot

What kind of problem are you trying to solve and what solution are you hoping to bring?

Starting from August 9, 2020 Telegram became the major communication and news channel in Belarus. Why did it happen:

· it worked with the help of Proxy, others not. People could always send message;

· it’s really secure communication channel if compared to other channels, who claim they also are.

During the Election Day, Aug 9th, the internet connection was down and it started to reappear after August 10th - people were receiving horrible information about beaten, injured and wounded people. Volunteers and charity organizations started to create Telegram channels offering medical, legal, financial and other help. But:

· there is no single point for sending and receiving such requests

· people in trouble don't know where to find help at the moment

· people who can offer help don't know who exactly needs help / what they need

· moderators in Telegram chats can't organize information and match people with each other

· there are also some problems with identity and private information

· there are a lot of fake requests and helpers in chats and channels

The problem of matching a person in need with a volunteer without posting in social media is crucial in Belarus right now. A lot of volunteers and doctors were caught and put in prison just because they had helped others. It’s becoming unsafe in Belarus just to help people.

Thus we decided to create a Telegram bot, which with the help of a few simple questions could receive a request from a person in need and an admin panel, where a coordinator can match him/her with a suitable volunteer.

Could you break down and explain how exactly will your solution work?

With the help of Telegram bot a person in need can request help and a volunteer can suggest it. Through simple questions person in need can complete the request by providingnecessary personal details, choosing help category, providing short description and sharing location if it’s necessary.

Through the admin panel coordinator matches a person in need with the suitable volunteer based on their skills and nearest location. Both sides receive a message in Telegram bot once they are matched.As soon as the coordinator completes matching, registered volunteers receive the request.

Where can people find more information about your work and product?

For now we have a website in Russian, accessible through a linkhere(not the final version).

Our hackathon video pitch is visiblehere.


The Global Hack will continue mentoring all three teams to make sure of the needed impact of these key solutions for the future of Belarus and its people.