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Using Behavioral Science to Fight COVID-19: Success of Corvinus students at the Hackathon of the EC

Updated: Jan 12, 2021

Written by: Tünde Taxner

New solutions have emerged in the pandemic: a team of Corvinus students achieved success at the Hackathon organized by the European Committee. The participants of EUvsVIRS 2020 Challenge, an online pan-European hackathon, tried to come up with solutions to the crisis situation resulting from the COVID pandemic. The Corvinus team managed to be listed among the best with a unique idea, based on behavioral science.

The EUvsVIRS 2020 Hackathon received more than two thousand projects by over thirty thousand participants from all over Europe. Out of these, 117 projects, the one submitted by the Corvinus team among them, were chosen to be the best by the judges. The projects could be about very different issues, all affected by the virus situation. Among the categories were healthy living, distance education and work, social and political cohesion, and digital finance. The judges assessed each project according to business plan efficiency, technical complexity, novelty value, completion status of the prototype and most importantly, its potential impact.

The Hackathon was hosted by the European Committee and the European Innovation Council, with the patronage of Mariya Gabriel. Further details are on the website of the event.

The Corvinus team submitted a project based on scientific research, titled “Pandemic of Mind”. The idea had sprung from the professional discussions and research work of team leader Dr. Trinh Anh Tuan and Dr. Zoltayne Dr. Zita Paprika. Their solution uses behavioral and data science to address problems arising from COVID-19, as detailed on their website. The members of the international (residing in Hungary) team were touched by their observation that senior citizens, who often live alone anyway, and who are mostly affected by the virus, got even more isolated as a result of social distancing, which aggravated their loneliness. Starting from this problem, the team members started wondering about the behavioral patterns that occurred and spread as a result of the virus.

Members of the team: Dr. Trinh Anh Tuan, associate professor (team leader), Marwa Malloug, Sándor Kardos, Richárd Velkei, Enkhzul Ganbat, Nikola Perovic, Nomiundari Ulziibodijav.

Following an international survey (questions accessible here) they created a comprehensible list of the typical behavioral patterns brought about by the pandemic. They found that handshakes and hugs had been replaced by other salutation habits, and people had started to use handkerchiefs correctly, wear masks and gloves and sanitize regularly. Another important behavioral pattern is the proof that a strong immune system is the result of good nutrition and physical activity, which is also mentally beneficial. Health care workers were surveyed separately, and according to the findings, they had elevated levels of fatigue and anxiety.

After identifying the behavioral patterns came the most exciting part of the project: creating the tutorial videos relating to the new behaviors. The practical application of behavioral science is represented by these funny videos, which list the most important scientific facts relating to the behavioral patterns. One of the videos has a sentence that could be the motto of the team:

„Use data for education, not to spur fear!”

The videos about washing hands, social distancing and panic buying are available here.

Team member Richárd Velkei says the greatest lesson of the project for him was this:

The biggest lesson for me is that a problem has multiple solutions, as a given circumstance presents itself differently in different societies. We need a common base, which is the analysis of instinctive acts, to offer global solutions to problems affecting humanity.

The members of the Corvinus team could also participate at the „Matchathon”, a networking event held between May 22-25, where they could present their solution to 115 investors and over 200 partners. The online event was aimed at linking the ideas with the ecosystem, that is, matching innovators and investors, research institutes and academia. The organizers wanted to contribute to community building within the EU, and to accelerate the post-crisis recovery process. Team member Enkhzul Ganbat said:

„Despite the fact that our studies were not disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and we could keep going online, at the time of the hackathon we had been isolated for about a month. I had a lot of insecurities and worries about what might happen. Taking part at the event gave me the feeling of somehow fighting against the virus and was a very rewarding experience.”

June 10, 2020

Images are the property of Corvinus Team.

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