Slack, Oracle and NVIDIA support UN's World Hackathon to regain progress lost to COVID-19

Teams have four days to come up with solutions for jobs loss due to the pandemic and barriers to remote education.

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The United Nations, training firm INE, and tech leaders from Slack, Oracle and NVIDIA opened a four-day Global Hackathon on Friday with the goal of combatting the health, economic and educational impact of COVID-19. The World Innovation Day Hackathon is going on across more than 50 countries, according to a press release. The opening ceremony was Friday morning and the hackathon ends Monday, April 20, at 7:30 am. 

Teams will submit their ideas in a video along with the accompanying codebase and optional documentation. Students, working professionals, startups, freelance technologists, faculty and IT service firms form the teams.

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Hackmakers is hosting the event and managing the competition. The hackathon organizers are expecting two types of solutions: a production-ready solution for immediate impact such as a working dashboard or a predictive algorithm or a proof-of-concept pitch such as an economic model or virus spread simulation. Solutions will be judged on consistency, originality, social value, design and commercialization opportunity.

The teams will focus on three of the U.N.'s development goals:

  • Health and wellbeing: What can we do to address the loss of progress on overall health goals due to the disruption of COVID-19?
  • Quality education: How can we address the fact that remote learning is out of reach for millions of students around the world?
  • Decent work and growth: What can we do to help the 400 million people who lost their jobs due to COVID-19?

Leaders from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme as well as developers and corporate executives are participating in the event. 

"Our role is to bring together the global ecosystem comprising business, government, startups and individuals, to collaborate and bring about meaningful change," Steve Nouri, Hackmakers chairperson, said in a press release. "We specially partnered with INE to deliver some pre-event workshops and leverage their mentors during the hackathon to educate and guide the participants." 

Teams signed up ahead of time to participate in the hackathon, but the organization is accepting submissions from groups who can't participate in this weekend's event for a larger competition. Groups can submit previous hackathon projects for the The World Innovation Day Global Showcase Competition now through June 15.

The event is part of the UN's International Year of the Creative Economy for Sustainable Development. UNCTAD Acting Secretary-General Isabelle Durant said in a press release that the creative industries stimulate innovation and diversification and are critical to the sustainable development agenda.

The UNESCO report on culture and sustainable development found that cultural and creative industries are among the most dynamic sectors in the world economy and generate $2.25 billion in revenue and 29.5 million jobs. These industries include audiovisual products, design, new media, performing arts, publishing and visual arts.

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By Veronica Combs

Veronica Combs is a senior writer at TechRepublic. For more than 10 years, she has covered technology, healthcare, and business strategy. In addition to her writing and editing expertise, she has managed small and large teams at startups and establis...