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In 2018, more than 100,000 developers from 156 nations donated their time and talent to create original code and IoT solutions. These tackled everything from the California wildfires, earthquakes in South America, hurricanes and typhoons around the world, and flooding in Kerala, India.

When we launched Call for Code last year with creator David Clark Cause, our goal was to inspire developers to build technology solutions that would help our society prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters. The response from developer communities across the globe was overwhelming, exceeding our expectations in every way.

We also saw the true spirit of the IBMer expressed in ways I never imagined something like Call for Code could invoke. From virtually every corner of the company, we heard, “How can I help?”

This meant more to us than just “job well done.” It meant that we were really onto something. But we knew if we just did the same thing again (and again), we would risk losing momentum — the spark of innovation is rare, and often fleeting. For the spark to truly ignite, we had to add some fuel.

To that end, we’re continuing our partnership with Call for Code in 2019, and we’re launching a new initiative, Code and Response, which provides a framework for putting top projects from Call for Code and similar challenges into production.

Through Code and Response, we’ll leverage the collective power of externally engaged communities and IBMers across the globe to accelerate the development, production, and implementation of solutions like last year’s Call for Code winner, Project Owl.

New year, new focus

The 2019 Call for Code Global Challenge again asks developers to create solutions that significantly improve preparedness for natural disasters, offer relief when disasters hit, and improve support during recovery efforts. This year, we’re adding an emphasis on individual health and community well being, seeking solutions to reduce disease risk, improve food and water safety, and address the mental health needs of people impacted by natural disasters.

We’re calling on developers to create practical, effective, and high-quality applications based on cloud, data, and artificial intelligence that can have an immediate and lasting impact.

The winners will be announced and awarded in October. The top team will receive a USD$200,000 grand prize, open source support from the Linux Foundation, and introduction to potential investors. Now, through Code and Response, the winning team receives development assistance to scale their winning solution and the opportunity to deploy the solution through the IBM Corporate Service Corps and implementation partners.

Get started

Once again, we’re making our technology available to you as well as resources to help you get started.

Our content is broken into three domain areas that will help you start building your Call for Code solution. You’ll find technical content, including code patterns that will allow you to quickly and efficiently take code, fork it, and put it into your software.

To help you ideate on the art of the possible, we also provide content under natural disaster and healthcare categories that give developers background about the challenges faced and the role that technology can play in addressing them.

Developers can also find inspiration for their solutions from The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, where four of the seven targets are directly linked to health.

Introducing Code and Response

At the Think 2019 conference in San Francisco this week, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty announced the Code and Response initiative. This four-year, USD$25 million investment provides a framework for putting technology solutions for social good into production.

The first example is our work with the winning team from last year’s Call for Code challenge, Project Owl. The team won the 2018 competition with a solution that addresses one of the first critical situations during a natural disaster: when a communications infrastructure goes down.

Project Owl connects victims and first responders in areas without power and access to the network. Users will be able to connect to a mesh network through a series of IoT devices, dubbed “ducks,” that will provide access to first responders and the ability to communicate basic needs. Once the network of ducks connects to the broader network, the entire coverage area will have connectivity. The data collected by the network can then be used in an IBM Cloud-powered dashboard that allows first responders to better understand the disaster and plan recovery efforts.

The Owl team is collaborating with Code and Response to scale their solution and ready it for implementation in Puerto Rico and other areas where connectivity is critical.

“Even more rewarding than winning the global prize is the opportunity to see our work deployed on the ground this year,” Project Owl CEO Bryan Knouse said. “The experience of coming together as a team through Slack and going from whiteboarding to actually submitting the project was a career highlight for all of us. It’s an amazing feeling to apply the skills you’ve developed over a career into building something that can literally save lives.”

Information Technology Disaster Resource Center joins us as an implementation partner, and we’ll announce more in the coming weeks. Project OWL will be the firrst project we will implement to speed recovery in the wake of natural disasters. Our goal is to put open source technologies developed as part of coding challenges as such as Call for Code in the communities where they are needed most.

Answer the call

If you’re a developer and are interested in building a potentially life-saving solution, we want to welcome you into the Call for Code community. Register for the challenge, build your team, and get started today.