Call for Code initiative looks to technology for disaster relief

Call for Code initiative looks to technology for disaster relief
The Call for Code Global Initiative aims to develop ideas to support disaster relief.
Published: 24 May 2018 - 1:03 p.m.
By: Mark Sutton

A new competition has been launched, supported by IBM, to develop technology solutions for disaster relief.

The Call for Code Global Initiative aims to bring together startup, academic and enterprise developers, to develop solutions to support humanitarian and disaster relief efforts.

The initiative was created by David Clark Cause and is supported by IBM, The Linux Foundation, American Red Cross and United Nations Human Rights Office.

The competition is open to individuals or teams, with entry open from 18th June until 31st August. Thirty semi-finalists will be selected in September, and the winners selected by a prominent jury of technologists. The winners will be announced in October.

At a keynote address at the VivaTech Conference in Paris, IBM Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty called on the technology industry to help build a better future, committing IBM technology and $30 million over five years to the Call for Code Global Initiative.

"At IBM, we harness the power of technologies like AI, blockchain, IoT and cloud to address some of the biggest opportunities and challenges in business," said Bob Lord, IBM chief digital officer. "Now, with Call for Code, we are calling on all developers to join us and use these same leading edge technologies to help people, their communities and society."

Laurent Sauveur, head of external relations of the United Nations Human Rights Office said: "Technology can be a powerful force to advance human rights and build more equitable societies. Call for Code is an excellent opportunity to explore how technology can play a role in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable populations and those who are at risk of having their human rights violated in the context of a humanitarian crisis."

Call for Code invites developers to create new applications to help communities and people better prepare for natural disasters. For example, developers may create an app that uses weather data and supply chain information to alert pharmacies to increase supplies of medicine, bottled water and other items based on predicted weather-related disruption. Or it could be an app that predicts when and where the disaster will be most severe, so emergency crews can be dispatched ahead of time in proper numbers to treat those in need.

IBM's $30 million investment over five years will fund access to developer tools, technologies, free code and training with experts. The winning team will receive a financial prize, yet, perhaps more rewarding, they will have access to long-term support to help move their idea from prototype to real-world application. This includes ongoing developer support through IBM's partnership with the Linux Foundation.

"Winning submissions need a strong ecosystem to ensure that they will flourish and continue to be deployed across the globe long after the competition ends. That's where The Linux Foundation is proud to step in and help equip open-source projects with the tools they need to accelerate adoption," said Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation.

In addition to development support, the winning team can join one of IBM's Corporate Service Corps (CSC) teams to apply their idea to a community in need. IBM CSC teams are multi-disciplinary IBM experts who spend four to six weeks in underserved communities around the world to apply technology to local issues and opportunities.

"The Call for Code Global Initiative was created to realize the full potential of developers, as they play a critical role in driving innovation that can shape and save lives. When these change agents are inspired to use their unique skills to help people in need, they do," said David Clark, founder, David Clark Cause. "There could not be a more significant founding partner for this important global initiative than IBM, and I'm both privileged and honored they have answered the call."

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