Katarina and her team in the final hours of hackathon that took place in StartIt

eGovernment Portal is about to celebrate its 9th birthday, and in the world of technology this means that it is time to modernize and improve it, and also ensure it’s simple to use and easy to navigate.

It has also become necessary that one can access the Portal on a mobile phone in addition to a computer, and that the service is made accessible to people with disabilities.

With a mission to tick off all these boxes, the first government hackathon entitled #CodeGovernment was organized. And what exactly is hackathon? It's a multi-day social coding event that brings computer programmers and other interested people together to improve upon or build a new software program. Hackathons can be organised as a competition, but nonetheless all hackathons aim at sharing knowledge and experience, acquiring new skills through work and connecting with other professionals.

Seven teams of IT students and experts brainstormed for 48 hours and presented their ideas for improvement of the user interface of the national eGovernment Portal at the #CodeGovernment hackaton, held on May 25-27, 2018 in Belgrade and Nis. The event was organized by the Office for IT and eGovernment, the Cabinet of the Prime Minister and the Digital Serbia Initiative with the goal to make life easier for the citizens so that they can get the necessary personal documents without queuing in lines. The event was also supported by the UN Development Program (UNDP).

The winning teams in Belgrade were Varhak and Voidvoide, while the BitPoBit team won the competition in Nis. The winners proposed a more modern and smoother design of the portal with a clean front page and easier navigation as well as the use of live chat option that would facilitate communication between citizens and public administration. The winners were awarded vouchers worth $ 2,500 that can be used in IT equipment stores.

The twenty-four-year-old Katarina Dimić, a final year student at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Belgrade also accepted the challenge to improve the eGovernment portal. Katarina competed with her colleagues and friends, Petar, Aleksandar and Dusan and this was the second hackathon they participated in.

Katarina explains that the teams first shared their ideas with mentors to get feedback and guidance for solutions that would be most useful in practice. All teams had the same task - to personalize the homepage for every individual user, who would then see only services relevant to them. For example, if a user does not own a car, car registration form will not appear on his/her homepage. A user types in personal information and chooses the type of service he/she wants to use on the portal.

"Unlike some other hackathons, the goal was not to find an innovative and revolutionary solution, but rather to apply the existing tools and mechanisms to the Portal to facilitate navigation and make it safe for every user in Serbia. Hence, one of our suggestions was to improve the search tool which would, for example, help search quickly for passport form, not only using the formal word for it, but also any of the colloquial words used," says Katarina.

UNDP’s support in the organization of the first government hackathon is part of the wider support to IT and e-Government Office within the three-year project "Serbia at Your Fingertips - Digital Transformation for Development", funded by the Government of Serbia, while additional support for even faster development over the next three years will be provided by the Government of Great Britain.

Read more Stories on the impact of our activities and support HERE.

Katarina brainstorming on how to make the Portal eUprava more user-friendly and ensure all citizens have their personal documents at their fingertips.
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