Digital Communication Network begins the series of publications on Digital Challenges in the Time of COVID-19 Crisis.
Research Paper by Natalie Gryvnyak.
An app mentioned “Diia”- was launched in early February. It is supposed to be the channel of digital communication between the government and the country’s citizens by combining all of the digital documents. Within a week, it had been installed by more than one million Ukrainians and for a while the app was leading the app download charts. For the moment, the “Diia” app offers storage of digital driving licenses, ID for domestic flights, Digital passports; possibilities to open private businesses and making a court claim. During the Covid-19 outbreak, the app creators added mailing lists with information about virus spread, and specialized Push messages with government decisions and recommendations.
Another digital program that became very popular during the Covid 19 pandemic is the national program for promoting digital literacy: “Diia. Digital Education”. The “Diia. Digital Education” platform was created in the form of edutainment, where free series are combined with experts and celebrities to explain how to use websites, the possible applications of smartphones and laptops, basic Internet safety rules, use of online services and courses on how to find jobs and how to acquire new skills to combat rising unemployment. Soon there will be courses regarding digital professions, like artificial intelligence and digital marketing. The audience on the platform rose from 36,000 people to 200,000 during the lockdown highlighting the issues the population currently face in their working routines. Research done by the ministry indicates that 53% of Ukrainians have a lower than basic level of digital literacy, with 15.1% of the population not having any skills at all.
Interview with Valeriya Ionan
According to the UNDP Laboratory of innovative development the gap between those that managed to stay in tune with digitalisation and those that couldn’t has increased lately. This happened because of the large number of elderly who struggled to keep up with the technological changes of the rapid digitalization of all spheres of life. The shift to working online is undeniable, yet the access to technologies and connection could be an obstacle, in particular in smaller villages or close to the front line of the ongoing military operations in the Donbas.
“We have 4 main goals as a government for the next 3 years. We want 100% of services to be available online, we want to cover Ukraine with Internet access, increase the level of IT products in GDP and to provide the possibilities to learn new skills. All of this makes an ecosystem to help Ukraine digitise. Also we plan to have in every ministry a chief Digital Officer that will be responsible for the digital projects” sums up Valeriya Ionan who is leading the “Diia. Digital Education project”.
According to the same UNDP research, Ukrainian society was quick to react. In addition to the government a lot of organisations, businesses and universities have opened free access to numerous online services and initiatives that will help develop digital and professional skills, free services and consultations for both skills development on digital communication usage and business operations. There were cases when the government and businesses united to develop products that would assist the population in times of crises. For instance an interesting initiative has been started by the Ukrainian government #HackCoronaChallenge, which united IT experts, civil society, start-ups and journalists to develop IT projects to ease the life of citizens and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the winners were “Sluhay” an online library of audiobooks in Ukrainian and SkillAR a mobile platform for distance interactive learning with the help of VR tools.