#EUvsVirus: innovation saves lives

At the end of April, the European Commission hosted a pan-European hackathon to connect civil society, innovators, partners and investors from across the EU. The common goal was to develop creative solutions for coronavirus-related challenges. Two of our employees were among the more than 30,000 participants and share their experiences with you in this article.

Meike Wenzl (Senior Consultant Performance Improvement, Advisory Services)

It was amazing to see so many brilliant, engaging and innovative minds working together for one single cause: the fight against the consequences of COVID-19. I am proud to have attended this hackathon in two ways: as a participant of a group concerned with an innovative money transfer app, but also as part of the EY mentors group for Covexit.

The project I was most involved in is a web app called “Flamingo Money Transfer”. This app supports migrant health workers in sending money to their relatives abroad during the coronavirus lockdown. I was mainly responsible for marketing aspects such as the customer journey and customer profiles. In addition, my task was to set up a loyalty programme and come up with a social media strategy. All this in just 48 hours!

“Flamingo” was primarily an impact-driven project: All of us got involved to address new problems caused by the pandemic, and to support vulnerable groups – in this case migrant families in need. Due to the current lockdown, many people have become unemployed and therefore more dependent on their relatives working abroad who, in some cases, have become the sole financial providers.

It took us long hours, many fruitful discussions and intensive work, but in the end it was worth it! It was great to witness the energy that went into the ideas, see how the teams used the feedback from the mentoring sessions, and experience how an idea went from a thought to a minimum viable product within just a couple of hours. All in all, this weekend proved the power and magic of innovation, collaboration and co-creation.

Joao Tinen (Consultant, People Advisory Services)

I had the chance to work with different teams in the fields of digital finance, social cohesion and impact. I was really impressed by the amount of people that took part in this project and proud of the more than 2,000 projects that have been submitted. It was incredible to be part of such an initiative and find new ways to combat the COVID-19 crisis.

As part of a team of about fifteen people, I helped develop two applications that aim at tackling domestic abuse during the lockdown. Both of them, ReLove and BrightAct, made it to the finals in the domain of social cohesion and impact. BrightAct even ended up winning the challenge in the “fight against crime” category, which was incredibly exciting!

In technical terms, both apps share the same architecture and interface. BrightAct, on the one hand, focuses on the victims of domestic abuse, offering chats with aid organizations to facilitate the access to personal advice and professional help. At the same time, the app helps to build up a documentation of the abuse, serving as a unique solution to create evidence for criminal and civil legal proceedings. Another purpose of the app is to educate and raise awareness. Our goal was to display the facets of domestic abuse – from psychological to physical abuse – and to educate the user about a healthy and stable domestic life. The connection to lawyers, social workers and healthcare professionals can also be made through the app.

ReLove, on the other hand, offers a questionnaire to evaluate the user’s behaviour and level of stress. Following the achieved score in the questionnaire, the user receives a psychological report regarding the risk of abuse and violent behaviour. The app actively invites the user to take part in activities that deal with anger management and organizing daily life in times of lockdown. Even a virtual appointment with a healthcare professional can be made through the app. Furthermore, it features an alarm button which is triggered by continuous yelling, inducing a ringtone with a fire alarm volume. This feature aims at detracting the user from the actual fight and de-escalating the momentum of anger.

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