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Armed Forces

NATO TIDE Hackathon 2023: Assistance in the defence of the Free World

Photo. Michał Górski/CyberDefence24

NATO’s primary task is to defend the Free World, and that means allies must be non-stop ready for the challenges that the present and the future bring. That, among other reasons, is why the NATO TIDE Hackathon is such an important event.

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The NATO TIDE Hackathon 2023 took place in Warsaw from February 20-24, with this year's edition of the international hackathon hosted by Polish Cyber Command. According to the competition's organizer, NATO ACT (Allied Command Transformation), the goal of the event is to "develop interoperability solutions to drive digital transformation in NATO."

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A hackathon unlike any other

The NATO TIDE Hackathon does not qualify as a stereotypical hackathon, which is usually associated with an hours-long marathon of programming, enclosed, and separated from the outside world. This specificity was brought to our attention by the participants of this year's event.

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As stated by a representative of the Ukrainian NEXT-C.O.P. team - for whom participation in the NATO TIDE Hackathon was a reward for winning one of the Ukrainian hackathons - the event in Poland resembles a hackathon combined with a conference, allowing to deepen one's existing knowledge. An example of this is the lecture given for participants by Major General Karol Dymanowski, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Polish Army.

For Ukrainians, participation in the event also has a practical dimension. According to the NEXT-C.O.P. team, participation can contribute to at least the designing of a product for the Ukrainian military.

During the hackathon we also had the opportunity to talk to other groups. The Logically team from the UK, on the other hand, pointed out that participating in the hackathon was a chance for them to implement new solutions into their professional work. According to the Polish FRONT team, the event stands out because all the tasks were military in nature.

Maj. Gen. T. Jorgensen: We are defending the Free World

We spoke with Maj. Gen. Thorsten Jorgensen, NATO's Deputy Chief of the ACT Staff, about the importance of the NATO TIDE Hackathon 2023.

Asked why it is Poland that is once again serving as the organizer of the NATO TIDE Hackhathon, Gen. Jorgensen replied that this is due to the very good relationship between NATO ACT and the Cyber Defense Forces Component Command. He also said that Warsaw is a great spot to host very different groups of professionals from many parts of the world.

The conversation also referred to the importance of the event for the functioning of the entire North Atlantic Treaty Organization. According to Maj. Gen. Thorsten Jorgensen, the organization of the hackathon has several goals. The primary task of the Alliance is the defense of the Free World, so partners must be non-stop ready for the challenges that the present and future bring.

According to Gen. Jorgensen, the fundamental idea of organizing a hackathon such as this one is to see NATO members working together and cooperating.

Photo. Michał Górski/CyberDefence24

Col. M. Chmielewski (PhD): We are strengthening interoperability in NATO.

The importance of the combined forces was also highlighted in an interview with our web portal by Colonel Mariusz Chmielewski, Deputy Commander of POL Cyber Command.

POL Cyber Command representative assessed that one of the greatest successes of this type of hackathons is that it provides a platform for many young people who share different experiences with coding to meet. Their knowledge of different tools, methodologies of operation add value to the whole Alliance and strengthen its interoperability.

According to Col. Mariusz Chmielewski (PhD) the organization of such an event as the NATO TIDE Hackathon 2023 also has a positive impact not only on the Alliance, but also specifically on the activities of the Cyber Defense Forces and the fight against disinformation.

"We need these types of events, methodologies to develop our technologies," POL Cyber Commandrepresentative explained to us. He also emphasized that the possibility of helping our Ukrainian neighbors is another argument for organizing such events.

Competitors from 15 countries (26 teams, including five from Poland) participated in the nearly week-long competition organized this year. They represented international teams of designers and developers from military institutions, academia, and industry representatives.

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