Columbus Tech Community Creates Initiative to Help Neighbors and Struggling Businesses Amidst COVID-19 Outbreak
Hundreds of Citizens, Companies, and Organizations Collaborate to Use Their Talents and Technology to Mitigate Economic Impact of Coronavirus
Columbus, Ohio — Over the past few days, Columbus has seen events canceled and restaurants, schools, and universities closed. Businesses have begun to suffer, workers are adjusting to doing their jobs remotely, and students have been asked to leave their schools. Countless unprecedented problems are slowly being exposed as social distancing and quarantine have the potential to negatively impact small businesses, restaurants, and nonprofits.
Columbus’s tech and business community are meeting the challenge with an attitude of compassion and action. Late Sunday night, Columbus leaders in the tech and business community proposed a collaborative initiative – Can’t Stop Columbus – to help those struggling in the midst of the developing COVID-19 situation.
Can’t Stop Columbus is a group of community leaders, professionals, technologists and helpful citizens pooling together their knowledge, time and resources to create real solutions to real problems the Columbus community is facing due to COVID-19.
Rapid Response through Collaboration and Technology
“COVID-19 has put us all in unprecedented conditions. The overwhelming response to the idea of a virtual hackathon shows us that this pandemic won’t stop us from being a community that creatively fights hard to confront the complex challenges we’re up against. I hope that this brigade of people will be able to assist existing efforts and introduce new, needed solutions that get us to a full recovery,” says Jordan Davis, the Director of Smart Columbus for the Columbus Partnership and an organizer of Can’t Stop Columbus. “I couldn’t be more humbled and impressed by the people who have stepped up so far and the progress that has been made in such a short amount of time.”
In the first 24 hours alone, hundreds of citizens, companies, and organizations joined the effort through Slack, held video calls to kick off the planning, collaborated to establish a social media presence, and launched an initial project — www.supportcolumbuseats.com — a resource for Columbus citizens to find local restaurants to order from. State leaders have become involved, as well as the Mid Ohio FoHPreod Collective, all with hopes that this group can address the needs they are experiencing on the front lines.
“Watching so many smart and talented individuals organically come together to utilize their hyper-specific strengths for the benefit of their community is exactly what we all need right now,” says Brad Browning, the co-founder of joinhelm.com and another organizer of the Can’t Stop Columbus initiative.
Mobilizing for Community Impact
Civic innovators and hackathon organizers from Smart Columbus, Hack OH/IO (Ohio State), GiveBack Hack, TechLife Columbus, OpenColumbus, and many more have come together with their best practices to mobilize this growing community. The uncharted nature of this effort is challenging the organizers to think differently.
The group quickly established a completely virtual community for members to stay engaged in solving urgent problems through the duration of the Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent recovery period. The initiative aims to mobilize hackers, designers, policy wonks, business gurus and innovators who will get things done to:
● Bring Technology Support to the Frontlines – Donate time and technical talent to help organizations on the frontlines of the pandemic meet their growing and changing demands with data visualization, app enhancements, or capacity augmentation.
● Introduce New Technology Solutions for Real Problems – Brainstorm, create and deploy new apps and tech solutions that fill specific community needs.
● Propose Programs and Policy for a Full Recovery – Enhance, inform, and shape new and existing solutions that can help lessen the economic and societal consequences of COVID-19 within our community.
Companies and organizations are enthusiastic to help. As of now, those involved include POINT, joinhelm.com, eFuse, Aftermarq, VoiceFirst, Smart Columbus, Innovate Ohio, OHI/O (Ohio State), Techlife Columbus, Columbus Digital Service, OpenColumbus, GiveBackHack, Business Builders, D3, and many more every day.
The Can’t Stop Columbus initiative—community leaders, business owners, developers, and helpful citizens—is continuing to grow in number.
To take part in the Can’t Stop Columbus movement, individuals and organizations can join the public Slack to find or share project ideas and follow @cantstopcbus on social media. All skills are valuable, and new perspectives are welcome.
Project Page: http://cantstopcolumb.us/
Jordan Davis, Can’t Stop Columbus Organizer; Director of Smart Columbus, Columbus Partnership
Austin Drabik, Can’t Stop Columbus Organizer; Co-founder of joinhelm.com
Vincenzo Landino, Can’t Stop Columbus Organizer; CEO of Aftermarq