At the end of April, a Romanian team won the top prize in the “Protection of Citizens & Democracy” challenge of the Social & Political Cohesion section of the #EUvsVirus hackathon, organized by the European Commission. The event aimed to identify the best solutions to support the European and global in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak.
One solution provided by a Romanian team was the Yellow Canary platform, which allows users to monitor their emotional state under lockdown and in isolation, and access therapists and psychologists who can help them overcome emotional problems.
Romania-Insider.com has talked to the creators of this platform about their path so far and their vision for the project.
The concept and methodology for Yellow Canary were developed by Buyer Brain and its sister company, Terragni Consulting. Lemon Studio was enrolled for the design of the platform, the development expertise came from Coding Heads and AIPSS and Prime Telecom provided the server infrastructure. They all did this project pro-bono.
“We developed Yellow Canary to help our community when we realized that the lockdown is taking a toll on our mental and emotional balance. We were talking to friends and clients, and they were all voicing their concerns about their ability to cope with this new situation. So we adapted our neuroscience-powered, online assessment platform that we use for our commercial projects, to monitor people’s emotional reactions,” Ana Iorga, CEO of Buyer Brain, told Romania-Insider.com.
The work on the platform started at the beginning of April, and it was launched at the EUvsVirus hackathon at the end of the month. “In our extended team, we had all the required expertise to seamlessly execute the idea: from neuroscience, psychology, strategy, to developers, designers, and communication experts,” she says.
The platform users can monitor their emotional well-being daily and contact a counselor for therapy.
Besides the partnership with local NGO Respiro, and other independent psychologists, the platform is in the process of “finalizing a partnership on the Indian market soon,” Iorga says. “We noticed that there were many users from other European countries, so we are looking to partner with counselors in those countries also, to be able to offer those people access to local therapy.”
In two weeks since the launch, the platform had over 1,000 users, and the numbers are increasing. “People are signing up from all over the world, from Asia to the US and, of course, Europe.”
Yellow Canary plans to add new features to the platform and translate it into several other European languages, allowing a growing number of people to use it in their native tongue. It also plans to offer the platform to companies that want to provide their employees with a tool to monitor their emotional well-being, Iorga explains.
Looking back on the experience of the #EUvsVirus hackathon, Iorga recalls a spontaneous decision to enroll. “It was our first experience of this sort, and we enjoyed it. It was very intense, we worked around the clock during the whole weekend, and we were proud that we managed to pull everything together in such a short time. It was also fun; there were a lot of live happenings and conversations on Slack; unfortunately, we couldn’t attend all of them, as we were more focused on work.”
As it one of the winners of the #EUvsVirus Hackathon, Yellow Canary will take part in the Matchathon organized from 22 to 25 May by European Innovation Council. The event will facilitate match-making with end-users, such as hospitals, and provide access to investors, corporates, foundations, and other funding opportunities from across the EU.
Three other Romanian teams were awarded at the #EUvsVirus hackathon. Fresh Air took the second spot in the Protection of Medical Personnel challenge of the Health & Life section of the hackathon. Lockdown Exams took the third spot in the University Specific challenges subsection of the Remote Working & Education category. Donescu took the first spot in the Enable Crowd to Help Financially challenge of the Digital Finance section of the hackathon.
#EUvsVirus gathered more than 20,900 participants from 34 countries, with almost 1,500 participants. Germany, Italy, and Spain were the countries that delivered the most solutions, while more than 130 solutions came from Romania.
The full list of winners is available here.