How the war caused a technology shift for Ukraine

Ukraine is facing the biggest challenge in its history. The economy, logistics, and infrastructure are under attack. How the business landscape is changed and what is the role of technology?

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Oleksandr Krakovetskyi 15 December 2022

Fundraising globally

The ability to raise money globally was a primary task.

Unfortunately, the majority of global payment systems like Paypal did not operate in Ukraine. The interesting fact is that Ukraine has a big penetration of cashless operations and convenient and fast online banking systems. More to say, Ukrainian payment mobile applications and online banking systems are much better compared to European analogs.

The major issue was to convince global players to start working with Ukraine or, at least, with Ukrainian refugees, align their work with local legislation, and avoid compliance blocks connected with annexed or occupied territories.

PayPal and Wise allowed Ukrainians to open accounts. The Ukrainian government started close collaboration with Binance and other crypto businesses to allow donations in cryptocurrencies. United24 and other fundraising initiatives appeared.

Also, Ukraine becomes an interesting place for international financial players as the recipient of multiple renovation and investment programs.

Cloud first

Like a majority of countries, Ukraine has strict legislation regarding personal data storage and usage. All critical infrastructure should be located inside the country. In fact, it means that governments, banks, and medical information systems are prohibited to use public clouds like Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, or Google Cloud. Also, in most cases, Ukrainian standards are not aligned with European ones which cause additional issues for international businesses.

In case your critical infrastructure is under attack, clouds become a reasonable option. Despite all concerns connected with public clouds, they can provide a more secure environment with a backup system and anti-DDoS protection compared to on-premise infrastructure.

The Ukrainian government allowed public cloud usage during martial law. Thanks to major cloud providers, critical businesses, banks, state authorities, and the government were able to migrate to the cloud within a few months.

Definitely, this situation will help to demystify concerns and worries connected with public clouds and will cause a huge refactoring of IT systems. If this process continues, Ukraine has a great chance to build a modern hybrid IT infrastructure and save 10 or 20 years of evolution.

The fall of Community Standards

Community Standards do not allow you to show what’s happening in Ukraine. Hate speech (which is an obvious case) is prohibited too. Previously, Facebook and Instagram let users call for death to Russian soldiers over Ukraine but, in fact, Facebook restricted the pages of Ukrainians due to content about war or banned them.

For years, content moderators for Ukraine were located in Russia. As a result, all social networks and other resources like Wikipedia became a tool for propaganda and fake news distribution. Freedom of speech is not an argument here, as it works for democratic countries only.

Obviously, the current content moderation systems are outdated and even harmful. Creating new Community Standards as well as fake news or profile detection is the new social and technology challenge.

At the same time, social networks established open-source intelligence (OSINT). Volunteers and professional journalists are able to analyze social networks and other open sources and make investigations quickly.

Chatbots Everywhere

If you have any piece of useful data — Ukrainians will do a chatbot for it. Chatbots became the default approach for numerous scenarios — from getting information about electricity outages to sending information about dangerous things.

Telegram became the standard for building chatbots. Compared to other messenger platforms, Telegram is quick, easy to use, and, in fact, the simplest platform for chatbot building. Viber, Messenger, and WhatsApp are not the real competitors. Also, as I mentioned before, other messenger platforms are not suitable if we are talking about speed and simplicity.

Telegram was established in Russia so there is no 100% confidence about who has access to data but in our case, it’s the most obvious choice despite all concerns.

Artificial Intelligence?

AI is not something that can be created and applied immediately. It needs high-quality data, time for training, testing, and deployment, it requires deep integrations with business processes, military software, and political will. AI is very sensual to specific requirements and conditions. We did not have anything from the following. To be honest, I was not very optimistic about real AI cases. Likely, I was wrong.

As a result of collaboration between IT companies, AI enthusiasts, and military authorities, some AI cases appeared, e.g., missile and military equipment detection, Russian troops face detection (as a tool for OSINT), fake news detection, and others.

I assume that military AI will be the next trend. Combining the AI and drone industry, we will get a new billion market.

Final Thoughts

Today I bought a coffee in a local shop. There were no electricity and internet, and the payment equipment did not work. Despite that, I was able to make a cashless payment by using a smartphone as a payment terminal.

War speeds up the digital transformation inside the country, making people flexible, prepared, and educated.

Unfortunately, the cost of this progress is very high.

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