A Ukrainian government app that lets citizen upload their taxes and renew their passport is also being used to upload videos of Russian troops.
The award-winning app follows President Volodymyr Zenelsky’s 2019 election pledge to put “the state in a smartphone.” But he couldn’t have foretold that the app will be used to help Ukraine’s war effort.
Diia provides citizens with a digital ID and allows them to register a business or obtain dozens of government services without having to be physically present at an official’s office.
It means Ukrainians can avoid waiting in line or being asked to pay a bribe, something Axios reports is an all-too-common occurrence.
The app has been downloaded on 70% of the smartphone in Ukraine, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov, but he did not expect to be rolling out some of Diia’s latest functions.
Ukrainians can now use to app to seek evacuation assistance when a threat of Russian shelling is present and citizens can even file a claim if their home is hit by one of Moscow’s bombs.
Using the “e-Enemy” feature, embattled Ukrainians can submit reports and even videos of Russian troop movements.
“There is a situational awareness system and this information is fed into this system,” Fedorov tells Axios.
“And then of course they [the military] have to verify — they use satellite images, other sources — before they act on it.”
When there were rolling blackouts in Ukraine during the soccer World Cup in December, the app streamed games, and according to Federov one million people tuned in.
“It is truly remarkable how Ukraine has managed to make significant strides in this digital transition, a transition that has yet to be achieved by some, even in times of peace,” Dragos Tudorache, a Romanian MEP and co-rapporteur on the European parliament committee assessing the Artificial Intelligence Act, tells The Guardian.
Despite the hardship Ukraine is facing, the app has become a model for governments around the world attempting to digitize civic services.
Zelesnky has widespread support and the swift take-up of the app is fuelled by patriotism and a will to defeat Moscow.
It remains to be seen whether such an app would work in a country like the U.S. where trust in governments is far lower.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.