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Living in the shadow of a volcano is a gamble, with often only hours to act when an eruption occurs. How can communities who live near one of the 500 active volcanoes around the world better prepare for this eventuality?

This was just one of the areas explored by teams participating in the Capgemini Call for Code hackathon.Teams across the software company used the opportunity to learn new development skills like rapid, continuous development with cloud microservices.

“We’re looking at introducing principles of microservices implementing an API-based architecture,” said Vinaya Shastrakar, an enterprise architect at Capgemini and one of the administrators of their internal hackathon. “We are using REST-based services which is appropriate for the subject matter expertise that we are going to build.”

This model helps create applications that are easy to integrate, such as a volcano preparedness system that can predict eruptions and navigate people to the nearest safe spots, avoiding confusion and helping to save lives.

Shastrakar suggests that one of the biggest changes she has seen over the last ten years has been the emergence of the cloud, which helps even large enterprises work at the speed of a startup. There is no need to set up expensive infrastructure before the project development begins. This is crucial for many applications, including those that can test new responses to age-old problems, like dealing with the destruction from natural disasters.

On top of this, Shastrakar sees great value in the pre-defined code samples that IBM makes available:

“It’s a boon that we have a series of code patterns that IBM provides that enables any developer to quickly build up Java or Spring-based microservices, expediting the whole process of solutioning,” she said.

In collaboration with the David Clark Cause, IBM in May launched the Call for Code, a worldwide, multi-year initiative that inspires developers to solve pressing global problems with sustainable software solutions.

The 2018 Call for Code Global Challenge ended in September. The winning team, Project Owl, was announced at the Call for Code Award Celebration on October 29. This IoT and software solution keeps first responders and victims connected in a natural disaster. The Project Owl team was awarded the USD$200,000 grand prize and the opportunity to deploy the solution through the IBM Corporate Service Corps, among other benefits.

IBM also hosted an internal 2018 Call for Code challenge. The winning IBM team was Team Frida, an end-to-end solution that predicts the magnitude of earthquakes based on sensor data and identifies the best escape routes and detects people trapped in damaged classrooms.

The topic of the 2019 Call for Code challenge will be announced early next year.