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Meet Diia: the Ukrainian app used to do taxes … and report Russian soldiers

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I t is the award-winning app that allows Ukrainians to report Russian soldiers in their neighbourhoods while also uploading their tax returns, renewing their passports or claiming a free student bus fare.Now the deputy prime minister, Mykhailo Federov, has revealed the inside story of how 25 developers, who were set on transforming Ukraine into one of the world’s most digitally advanced societies, have kept the country running during wartime.Federov, 32, told members of the European parliament the mission began by thinking like a start-up company: to create an app that was as easy to use as WhatsApp or

Now, the team is working to make it an open-source tool that Ukraine can give to other countries to build a digital public infrastructure.Within eight hours of launching in September 2019, the app, called Diia, meaning “action”, had 2 million users.Its peacetime services include official tasks, such as registering a birth or marriage, or renewing a passport, but after Russia invaded, use of the app rocketed as it was commandeered for the wartime effort.“After hostilities broke out we thought: what did the citizens of Ukraine need?

They needed money, protection, compensation when rockets hit their house,” Federov said. Now, for example, the app allows victims of Russian bombings to apply for funds to repair damaged buildings and to continue to listen to the radio during blackouts.It also permits the creation of a digital “evacuation document” combining all personal information in one place to “accelerate identification at checkpoints”; “e-aid” financial support for small businesses “to keep the economy going”; state-backed mortgages for military and key workers, and “e-enemy” – a chatbot to report the location

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