For the past five weeks, IT director in Kyiv’s city council Oleg Polovynko and his boss, Kyiv’s deputy mayor and chief digital transformation officer Petro Olenych, have led an exhaustive effort to adapt and repurpose everyday technology for a city that has found itself facing a 20th-century-style war.
Their creative maneuvers are a key reason that most residents of the Ukrainian capital can connect to the Internet in underground bomb shelters, find open pharmacies and grocery stores, and go to sleep knowing their phone will alert them of incoming air raids before the physical sirens sound.
“Every day, we wake up and we’re thinking how we can keep people in the city alive and safe. I felt like I was part of a modern world, where all of these [technologies] were part of our everyday life, and now suddenly we need to use them for such basic purposes, for life or death,” says Polovynko. “I never imagined that I would develop software in 2022 to help people stay alive, to survive things like a missile attack. But of course, we can. And now we’re using all of our IT minds in Ukraine to help our people and our soldiers.”
The popular Kyiv Digital smartphone app, which residents previously used to pay utility bills and parking tickets, now gives them a map of the closest bomb shelters and places to get critical supplies like insulin, food or gasoline. Notifications for the closure of a local metro stop for repairs have given way to warnings of incoming air raids.
“Our main focus is to use any options that can help us save lives, to use the technology to first of all to protect our people – and to kill another people. It’s sad, but unfortunately this is the situation we’re now in. We cannot lose. Ukrainians will never, never give up, and you feel it when you’re here in Kyiv, we will really fight to the end.”
Read more via Time
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Come Back Alive is one of the largest charitable foundations that supports Ukrainian soldiers, founded by the IT specialist Vitaliy Deynega. The organization collected more than 210 million UAH (more than $7M) in 2014. According to Na chasi, the Patreon page Come Back Alive is in the top ten projects by the number of financial donations.