Since the outbreak of coronavirus at the end of 2019, there has been over 170 million cases of infection and 3.74 million deaths worldwide. Having taken various COVID-19 management measures for more than a year, the global community has come to realize that in the face of systemic risks, “resilience” must take priority over “efficiency.”

In 2020, as part of efforts to stabilize the supply of resources required for response to coronavirus, Taiwan’s civil society and government worked together across sectors to produce “mask maps” by utilizing open government data. In response to the recent surge in local infections, the “1922 SMS Contact Tracing System” was developed in a day to ensure swift and safe contact tracing. Built upon on preparations made the previous year with the 1922 hotline and eMask system, such progress was possible because Taiwan has long been accustomed to cross-sectoral collaboration, which allows for the smooth integration of ideas and technology from various fields.

This year marks the fourth edition of the Presidential Hackathon – an important arena for public servants, civil organizations and international partners to come together and solve problems via collaboration. Based on the application of digital technology, the Presidential Hackathon channels energy spread across governmental departments and civil organizations into a driving force for “policy innovation,” and allows the concept of “working with the people” to permeate through public policy decision-making.

Some excellent proposals under the Domestic Track include the “One-Stop Emergency and Disaster Response” (救急救難一站通), which integrates emergency rescue caregiving and resources, and the “Weather and Health for All” (健康氣象風險預警平台) platform set up in response to global warming. Under the International Track, proposals come from diverse fields, including the social housing map and transparentization of public expenditure. Built on information and digital innovation, both serve as great models for creating solutions through people-public–private partnerships.

Employing the theme of “Sustainability 2.0: Resilient Islands,” and from a perspective of national sustainable development, the 2021 Presidential Hackathon is inviting civic hackers to take part in the competition and submit proposals regarding seven major issues: “Human Resources,” “Circular Economy,” “Energy Transformation and Decarbonization,” “Sustainable Food, Agriculture, and Environment Protection,” “Smart and Resilient Cities and Counties,” “Digital Transformation,” and “Cross-Field Integration,” along with 18 topics. The goal is to transofrm Taiwan’s innate resilience into powerful solutions.

In recent years, humanity has faced severe retaliation from nature. We see warning signs everywhere, from fire outbreaks in the Amazon rainforest severely devastating the environment, to the melting of glaciers triggering rises in sea levels. Currently, more than 120 countries have proposed to achieve the target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Therefore, we have decided on the theme of the 2021 Presidential Hackathon International Track: “Sustainability 2.0: Climate Action.”

It is our hope for the Presidential Hackathon to become a platform for “hackers” from around the world to contribute to global issues such as disaster warnings, post-crisis recovery and adjustment, carbon footprint survey and implementing greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Any international “hacker” who wishes to help find solutions can put forth a proposal and collaborate in taking concrete action to mitigate climate change.

At a time when cross-border physical meetings remain difficult, we provide a space where like-minded friends can band together via online connections. This is the goal of the Presidential Hackathon, and an effort on Taiwan’s part to continue fulfilling its obligations as a member of the international community.

The Presidential Hackathon began calling for applications May 14, with a deadline of July 30 for domestic applicants, and a deadline of Aug 4 for International Tracks. We welcome all and sundry to join our ranks in tackling challenges head-on and co-creating solutions.