Digital Against COVID-19 Hackathon

Shaping the new normal

Under the #DigitalAgainstCOVID19 project, we are currently seeking applications for multiple hackathon challenges.


The selected solution will have potential funding of USD 10,000 or more for selected pilots in ADB’s developing member countries.

Find an overview of each challenge below.

Digital Reskilling and Upskilling of the New Workforce

Bridging the gap in digital skills

In this challenge, ADB aims to explore new education model, platforms, or solutions that will provide opportunities for acquiring and enhancing digital skills for workers (a) who have lost jobs during the economic crisis from COVID-19 to re-enter the workforce and (b) who have a desire to strengthen their prospects to move to better jobs.

The solutions will help to pilot new approaches to enhance opportunities to acquire digital skills that are crucial to succeed in the job market. To address this challenge, it is crucial to be in tune with current market trends and required skills for in-demand jobs and to ensure opportunities to those who may be in locations without easy access to connectivity or devices. Digital competencies need to be visualized within continuous learning pathways from basic, intermediate to advanced skills to enable the progression of the workforce. A key premise of this challenge is that everyone, even those with low literacy, will need to acquire basic digital skills for job markets and citizenship services.

How might we equip jobseekers from sectors most affected by COVID-19 with digital skills demanded in the labor market to increase their employability and how can we create an eco-system for delivering digital skills to serve even those without reliable or continuous access to connectivity and devices?

Your innovative solutions are what we need to bridge the gap in digital skills!

DEADLINE on OCTOBER 23 at 1700hrs [GMT+8]

Digital Solutions for Hard Hit Economic Sectors

Helping small businesses thrive post-crisis

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and brick and mortar stores with smaller footprints have disproportionately felt the impact of COVID-19. In this challenge, ADB aims to find long term and sustainable technological solutions for businesses and MSMEs in hard-hit sectors so they can embark on digital transformation and thrive in the post-COVID-19 era.

Due to their smaller operating scale, MSMEs have less liquidity and are vulnerable to sudden drops in sales, disruption to supply chains, and reduction in the labor supply. The situation is worse in rural areas where there are fewer economic opportunities and more unregistered or informal enterprises. For more information on which sectors have been hit hardest, please see the Background.

How can we help businesses hit hardest by the COVID-19 leverage the tools of the digital economy to help them develop online presence and transition to online business models that can potentially spur economic activity?

  • How can we ensure businesses and MSMEs in hard-hit sectors can transition to online business models and leverage the digital economy as the world shifts to the new normal?
  • How can we support the journey of brick and mortar MSMEs into the digital economy?
  • Within the digital world of online marketplaces, e-commerce platforms, and online payments, what types of unique solutions can be offered to hard-hit MSMEs?
  • What other types of digital solutions could we offer to businesses and MSMEs in hard-hit sectors to enable them to thrive online long term?

Your innovative solutions are what we need to help sectors that bore the brunt of the Covid-19 economic downturn find their path to digital transformation and beyond!


DEADLINE on OCTOBER 23 at 1200hrs [GMT+8]

Driving Safe Transportation using Digital Solutions

Gearing Up towards the New Urban Mobility

In this challenge, ADB aims to find long-term digital solutions that can help citizens plan and coordinate their travels and use public transportation safely and effectively.

In Southeast Asia, public transport ridership has fallen 90 percent and has yet to attain pre-pandemic status. At the same time, we note private vehicle movement has been significantly increasing which reflects a measure people have adopted to prevent further spread of the virus. This is the face of the “new normal” as more people rethink their journeys in view of limited available transportation. However, not everyone can afford to embrace these changes. In developing Asia, given the absence of reliable mass transportation and privately-owned vehicles, majority of the urban poor will continue to rely on mass public transportation, or at worst, walk for hours to get to their destinations. In this shifting context, digital solutions can be beneficial in centralizing and communicating relevant, up-to-date transit information to the public—whether it be service changes, real-time arrivals, additional required measures for passengers, or event details on the cleaning protocols implemented.

How might we use emerging technologies to help governments provide citizens digital transport information, coordination, and updates for a safe, accessible, and efficient transport system?

Potential concepts can include:

  • a ridesharing application where personal information for contact tracing is safely stored
  • a real-time tracker showing which public transportation lines are available at any given time
  • an app coordinating a shuttle service with extra precautions (e.g., requiring a verified negative test) only for people with comorbidities

Your innovative solutions are what we need to gear up towards the new urban mobility!


DEADLINE on OCTOBER 30 at 1700hrs [GMT+8]

Modeling a Safe Return to Work

The “new normal” for the workplace in the COVID-19-era

In this challenge, we aim to explore the use of digital technologies for small-to-medium organizations, as well as for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to encourage the safe return to the workplace in the time of COVID-19.

As governments gradually relax some stay-at-home restrictions, organizations are also starting to reopen and welcome their employees back into the office. This, however, will not signify a return to business-as-usual but the start of a transition to the reality that things, workplace measures among them, will have drastically changed due to the pandemic. Cleaning and disinfection will become a top priority; employees are expected to practice physical distancing; meeting rooms and workstations layout will change, and policies and updates will be communicated frequently. In light of this, organizations also need to ensure that they provide safety guidelines and strategies upon their reopening.

While large organizations have the tools and resources to make better decisions and address employees’ apprehensions, safety, and concerns regarding their return to work, small-to-medium organizations and MSMEs struggle to balance health safety and business needs.

How might we use digital technology to support small-to-medium public organizations and MSMEs to provide a safe and healthy working environment for their employees?

Your creative ideas and innovative skills are what we need to provide small organizations tools for a safe return to work!

Potential concepts can include:

  • a digital planning tool that can show number and location of new cases on a daily basis and is applicable for organizations with remote offices for organizations
  • an application that can determine the number of employees who can safely return to work and can incorporate best practices with an input layout and information about the office space
  • a sourcing application to source vendors for retrofitting their spaces or installing socially distanced barriers in the office

Participants are encouraged to consider aspects of accessibility, and inclusion in their proposals, including ideas for how digital divides may be bridged for those with limited access to the internet. Entries should ideally be open-source solutions that can be adapted and replicated elsewhere.


DEADLINE on OCTOBER 30 at 1700hrs [GMT+8]

Improving Remote Monitoring of Water Utilities

Smarter ways of managing water operations

In this challenge, ADB aims to find smart water management solutions for water utilities that can monitor water operations, maintain service delivery, manage assets and staff performance, as well as identify vulnerabilities within service areas—all remotely.

Water demand in urban and rural areas worldwide is increasing over time due to population growth and climate change. In today’s environment, the same challenges still exist but with the added complexities of the COVID-19 impact, such as continuity of services in light of fewer staff, lower ability to collect bills, and increase in water demand at the household level since people are at home more. Frequent handwashing, heightened sanitation, and enhanced disinfection have spiked the water demand significantly.

In times of crisis like COVID-19, service continuity for sustainable water supply is essential. Water utilities, along with local governments, need to ensure that there are enough workers to maintain assets, monitor water quality, report facility status, and identity leaks and disruptions. And even though there are no additional COVID-19–specific protections recommended for workers in wastewater management operations, treatment plants should still ensure that workers follow strict safe work practices to prevent exposure to wastewater. However, due to lockdown and physical distancing measures brought about by the pandemic, it has become a challenge to deploy workers at sites and maintain regular work schedules and capacity while still prioritizing safety. Staff shortage is one of the biggest concerns of water and waste management on top of increasing water demands from customers.

Given these issues, water utilities need smart water systems to monitor remotely every part of the water cycle—from sourcing to treatment to delivery to consumption—to respond faster to changing conditions, minimizing disruptions, and operating more efficiently.

How might we integrate smart water technologies like the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), sensors, and analytics to existing water systems to improve water utility asset management, monitor water supply operations, and manage staff remotely, especially in times of crisis like the COVID-19?

Participants can explore the following areas of interests in this challenge:

  • Monitoring of water level and condition (through advanced telemetric devices, drones, or pressure sensors, among other)
  • Demand forecasting or monitoring consumption to help manage the pressure and speed of water
  • Asset management, detecting leaks and predictive maintenance
  • Staff safety and operational performance including status reporting like workforce capacity and activities
  • Tailored customer service, for example, real-time updates on closures and disruptions, hourly consumption, leak detection, and customer feedback


DEADLINE on OCTOBER 30 at 1700hrs [GMT+8]


October 31, 2020
Organizer ADB
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Africa, Antarctica Region, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Europe, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Kiribati, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Nicaragua, Northern America, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela
Sectors Sector agnostic