In 2021, East Europe Foundation financially supported by the EU conducted the acceleration program for startups Act to Connect. Six most successful finalist teams were provided with funding of UAH 6 million to develop their civic tech tools – digital solutions that would improve cooperation between authorities and citizens and interaction within the communities. Here we would like to introduce the startups, their teams, and how they managed to reformat their work in the realities of war.
Websites of numerous state institutions are often accessible not to all social groups. For example, people with disabilities are frequently unable to fully access the information and services provided by these websites.
The Inclusive-IT team which is made up of certified experts on web accessibility is aiming to assist developers of authorities’ websites in creating universal resources for different social groups, including youth, older adults, and people with disabilities.
The funding received within Act to Connect was used by the team to develop the AxyGovUA service, which can conduct regular monitoring of government websites for web accessibility in accordance with the international WCAG standard.
Features of the tool include automatic testing of websites for various platforms and devices, an official’s panel/CDTO with a dashboard to analyze websites’ status, a developer’s panel, and so on.
The team members are currently in different regions of Ukraine and abroad; they are already working on the English version of their product. Soon the finalized tool will be available here: https://digital-pandus.com.ua/
Open Data Lab, the team of developers from Mariupol has lots of experience in developing and improving handy civic tech solutions. Medical Bot Marta is one such tool. This is a bot available on Viber and Telegram which provides a convenient way to communicate between a patient and a medical institution and allows to avoid unnecessary visits to a doctor.
The received funding was used to add new modules to the medical bot. The first is “My Declaration”, which automatically informs about a need to re-sign your declaration with a doctor, and the second is a module on Covid-19 which includes answers to 135 questions on the topic of vaccination. Plus, the information is constantly being updated, while the bot is capable of self-learning in accordance with user requests to provide the most accurate responses.
Here is the link to access the bot on Viber and Telegram: https://martabot.pro/
These days, during the war, the team is working on the feature for self-diagnosis. According to the developers, the feature is very popular since now it is harder to get appointments with doctors – for those who stayed in Ukraine as well as for those who are now abroad. The team is also expanding the capabilities of this feature: they are working on 2 000 more questions and answers with the doctors to integrate these into the service. They are also considering ways to cooperate with other services to make the use of developed functionality more efficient and reduce the pressure on doctors and the medical system.
DJEK is a service for full, convenient, and fast interaction between the residents, housing co-ops, providers of communal services, and local authorities. This tool is used to receive and process appeals, promptly inform about important events, and conduct electronic polls and voting.
As the locality and individual houses are connected to the platform, the residents’ issues can be solved online, without a separate contact center. For example, these can be the issues of an absence of hot water, pits near the entrances, or non-working elevators. Additionally, the tool provides opportunities to pay for utilities in a few clicks, call a qualified plumber or electrician, and participate in initiatives to improve the quality of life in the locality or the city.
The service can also provide quality analytics to get an understanding of the real situation in the locality.
Users of the tool can make use of chat-bots for houses’ residents, have ways to communicate with an office of the mayor, can connect with the website of their locality, get access to a control panel, source of news for residents, and so on.
The possibility to add new objects to the service for free is now temporarily disabled. Though the platform keeps supporting the work of the housing co-ops which were added before the war.
The service is available here: https://djek.org/
“Help Chornobyl” is an automated online service for legal help to liquidators and victims of the Chornobyl disaster, which helps them receive payments from the state.
An idea to develop this service emerged because due to COVID-19 restrictions, the system of social payments was not working as it used to work before. In turn, the liquidators, being in a high-risk group, had to stay home most of the time and could not solve the issues related to payments offline.
“Help Chornobyl” automates typical legal processes, which helps reduce the time of lawyer involvement and decrease the final cost of services for liquidators. “Help Chornobyl” can be handy for up to two million people. Around 200 thousand liquidators and 1.5 million of those who did not take part in liquidation but suffered from the catastrophe (for example, those who were displaced) can make use of the service.
Based on data that a user enters into the portal, an online system can automatically and free of charge generate typical letters, complaints, and appeals and send them to the respective email addresses.
For example, here are several problems in solving which HELP Chornobyl can be useful: renewal of a liquidator’s certificate, state compensation for medical treatment, gathering donations for legal services in complicated cases, payments from the state and their transfers.
The service is available here: http://helpchornobyl.com/
Now the team keeps processing requests of the users and provides information on the situation of nuclear power plants in the times of hostilities for Ukrainian and foreign media.
COVID-19 pandemic affected the habits and work-life balance of everyone. The life of kids and teenagers also undergone tremendous changes in terms of education and free time. On the other hand, children are more open to new technologies and more adaptive, and they are used to spending more time online. So a team of developers decided to get children involved in social entrepreneurship through simple and interesting online platforms like Minecraft.
The PlayGov ecosystem is able to unite Ukrainian children around the topic of social entrepreneurship in the safe makerspace using the capabilities of the most popular sandbox platform – Minecraft. PlayGov users will also be able to acquire experience in interacting with kids from other countries.
After the beginning of the full-scale war, the PlayGov team had to seek shelter in different cities in the West of Ukraine and in European countries since all of the members used to live in the East of the country. They all were actively involved in volunteering at the beginning of the invasion. During subsequent weeks, the team is planning to go back to developing the product.
A team of public organization COST Ukraine developed a platform “Ukrainian Social Infrastructure (USI)” within the competition. This is an informational and analytical online platform to make citizens and local authorities involved in a joint effort to develop the city.
The system generates data about the objects of social infrastructure from different sources for monitoring and provides access to automatic ways for interaction between authorities and citizens. These interactions include submission of appeals, complaints, and requests for public discussions with a possibility to track all stages of the documents, from their registration to their reaching final executors.
The service is composed of a cartographic module, which includes information on the objects of the social infrastructure of Ukraine; a dossier of contractors and permits (certificates, licenses); a search of contractors for projects, and a search of projects for contractors; map of inclusive social infrastructure; and interactive manual on the implementation of infrastructural projects for joint territorial communities. The tool also generates analytical dashboards with information on the social infrastructure and reporting.
Now the platform is not functioning since the registers which serve as sources for information for this tool are now closed. However, the team is now thinking about how to transform the project in new reality. They are planning to gather information on the damaged and destroyed objects of infrastructure to include them in the system and work on the renewal of those objects.
Before the war, the platform was available here: http://usi-costukraine.org/