Digital coronavirus challenge launched

A virtual challenge to seek digital solutions to assist the Asia and the Pacific region to deal with the medium to long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic has been launched. 

The #DigitalAgainstCOVID-19  initiative has jointly been launched by the Asian Development Bank (A.D.B.) and the Asian Institute of Management (A.I.M.) 

The competition is open to startups, companies, universities, research organisations, students, and A.D.B. employees. 

The digital virtual solution challenge will focus on four themes: health and well-being, education, economic development, and enhancing the capacity of Governments and the A.D.B.. 

The President of the Samoa Information Technology Association (S.I.T.A.), James Ah Wai, said digital solutions aimed to assist countries like Samoa are very important, especially when the pandemic has pushed digital devices to their limits. 

Since the lockdown began, some employers and employees have had to work from home while students have moved their classroom learning online and to television.

"We already have the technology and we already have the infrastructure. So I can see from the pandemic that most of the schools and employers and everyone, digital devices and services are the main source of [communication]," said Mr. Ah Wai.

"At this time in the Pacific and Samoa, digital transformation is very critical for businesses and communications with families and such."

Mr. Ah Wai says if the people of Samoa do not switch to utilise the digital platforms now available, especially during these times of the pandemic they “will be left behind."

The S.I.T.A. has been developing ways to increase the digital security of such innovations in Samoa and to embed and implement checks on cybersecurity platforms, he added.

The A.D.B. President, Masatsugu Asakawa, said digital technologies should be an important element of a country’s responses to the threat of the coronavirus.

“This competition will generate digital ideas and solutions to help shape the new normal," said Mr. Asakawa in a statement.

The A.I.M.’s President, C.E.O., Dean Jikyeong Kang, said many countries were caught off guard by the pandemic and have had to go digital overnight to deliver education about its ramifications.

“We want to use this competition to explore potential solutions that may make online learning more fulfilling for both student and adult learners,” Dr. Kang said. 

The virtual challenge will run throughout 2020 and take place over three rounds. 

After the conclusion of each round , three to five solutions will be pilot tested for three to nine months. In early 2021, the most successful pilots will be recognised.  

This is the third hackathon held in collaboration between the two organisations. 

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