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Phone 058 285 85 85
From outside Switzerland: +41 58 285 85 85
Fighting COVID-19 with #VersusVirus
Blog Fighting COVID-19 with #VersusVirus
Michelle Unternährer April 15, 2020

Jonas Jatsch is the Compensation & Benefits Manager in Human Resources at Baloise and the BizDevOps champion in IT. In his private life, he has been involved in CatchAHero since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis. This is a newly created platform that offers a network of volunteers for hospitals and charities in need. A team from CatchAHero, including Jonas, took part in the #VersusVirus hackathon.

A 48-hour hackathon: finding new ideas to fight COVID-19 together

«The very personal speech by Alain Berset on Friday showed us that we are making an important contribution towards managing the coronavirus crisis.»

The word “hackathon” is derived from combining the words “hacking” and “marathon”. The aim is to develop new ideas and solutions together over the duration of the hackathon. #VersusVirus, the virtual 48-hour hackathon, took place across Switzerland from Friday to Sunday, 3 to 5 April 2020. Under the patronage of the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) and the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), the event was organised by Impact Hub Switzerland and more than 60 partners. During the 48 hours, an impressive 4,610 participants hacked in teams to help fight COVID-19 in Switzerland. 

Almost 200 initiatives for overcoming the crisis

The 187 initiatives comprise a variety of topic areas, such as education, remote working, teamwork and protection for high-risk groups. Jonas and his team used the opportunity to further develop their existing project for supporting the healthcare system: “Our platform CatchAHero was the starting point. We asked ourselves how we could further develop the technology and the marketing of the platform.”

«You don’t have to be a computer scientist or a medical professional to take part. I’ve always had an affinity for IT. I think it’s a lot of fun.»

Experience report from the #VersusVirus hackathon

On the Monday morning directly after the hackathon, a joyful yet a little exhausted Jonas reported on his impressions and recounted his experiences: “I’m really happy with the output – we’ve achieved a lot.” It wasn’t Jonas’ first hackathon, but certainly the first one working remotely. “That was a great experience. Although it was an online event, people were very willing to help each other and participants were extremely quick to offer aid. The dynamic was incredible.”

««It was awesome when a DJ got involved, who over the course of the hackathon ended up producing the music for a one-minute video which we then used for our marketing presentation. We were also joined by a professional speaker from the UK. Without the hackathon, we probably wouldn’t have connected with them or produced a brilliant video in such a short time.»»

Virtual hackathon while working remotely

Communication and teamwork were pushed into the virtual realm during the #VersusVirus hackathon. “There were communication channels for general questions and channels for the individual initiatives.” Jonas began with a team of 7 persons from CatchAHero. “In the end, there were around 20 of us, even though some people were just visitors. There was someone new during every call, meaning everything had to be re-explained often. However, the advantage of this was that we kept receiving new input.”

«You have to learn how to communicate with a lot of strangers. At Baloise, we’re also finding ourselves working more and more often with different people that we don’t personally know and that may react in unexpected ways. This allows you to learn more about human nature – which is exciting and rewarding.»

Helpful developments born of necessity

From digital visualisation to cooperation among strangers based in different places working towards a common goal: the current crisis situation is accelerating the advancement of certain developments. Whether it is virtual work, a sense of community at a distance or virtual communication – this unprecedented situation is teaching us how to handle these changes, and we are learning how we could adopt some of these aspects in the future.

Jonas intends to introduce his experiences from the #VersusVirus hackathon into his environment at Baloise in order to push forward new work and communication methods. For us, sharing knowledge as well as commitment to society, whether privately or through Baloise as an employer, is anchored in the area of sustainability. Both as a company and through committed employees such as Jonas, we create value for society.

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