COVID-19, climate change, and the urgent need for innovation
Call for Code highlights the adaptability of technology to address our most pressing issues
We are facing a time of unprecedented crisis. While the COVID-19 pandemic puts lives and livelihoods at immediate risk, climate change is an existential threat for humanity. Global challenges such as these are colossal tests of leadership and demand global answers. As the UN Secretary General put it, “We are in this together — we will get through this together.” To effectively address these unfolding human crises, we must put human rights at the heart of the response. We need to reaffirm our common values of humanity and solidarity. And we need to think outside the box. To that extent, leveraging technology for good is essential, as it now allows us to adapt at levels previously unthinkable.
Innovation in key areas of technology including cloud computing, AI, and open source means it is now easier than ever to quickly pivot towards addressing the most pressing issues we face. A great example is the Call for Code challenge, which quickly pivoted to take on COVID-19 when the global impact of this pandemic became apparent. Within six weeks, the solutions that emerged addressed everything from how we can keep a physical distance when queuing at stores to helping small businesses re-emerge stronger after a crisis. Many of these are already being considered for deployment opportunities.
Equally, we are seeing a great deal of creativity from the developer community to create solutions that address the issues caused by COVID-19 and climate change. Conservee is an MVP application designed by a team from San Jose State University in a class aligned to the Call for Code challenge. With so many people under stay-at-home orders, the app helps keep down home electricity costs. The app does this by providing detailed, personalized information on what it would take for you to convert to solar energy. This obviously also has considerable implications for climate change by reducing household demand for electricity from the grid, which the team included in the long-term plan in their proposal.
This is a time none of us will forget. We know that, as a global community, we must not only address the immediate threat of COVID-19, but also commit to building back better. That means taking action for the climate; building more inclusive, equal, and resilient societies; and fully respecting everyone’s human rights. Technology is a powerful ally as it gives us the tools to do so. By triggering global engagement, initiatives like Call for Code open up the potential for developers and problem solvers around the world to put their skills to use to create inclusive and effective response solutions that can be deployed quickly yet have long-term impact. Please join us in building a better world and stand up for human rights.
Subject matter experts from the United Nations, along with innovators from IBM and partner organizations, came together in February for the launch of the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge to discuss the pressing issues of our time and begin ideating solutions to help developers fight back with technology.