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Call for Code® 2019

Creating and deploying open source technologies to tackle some of the world's biggest challenges

This week we held our first-ever “solution starter” hackathon in Switzerland at Call for Code Geneva, hosted by the United Nations Human Rights Office at the historic Palais Wilson. This event was borne of a simple question — what happens when top developers, business leaders, and subject matter experts collaborate to address our greatest challenges?

The answer is four inspirational kits, which we hope will inspire developers to build potentially life-saving Call for Code solutions.

Natural disasters have affected more than 2.5 billion people worldwide since 2000 and are becoming more extreme and frequent. Through the Call for Code Global Challenge, developers from 156 nations have built more than 2,500 applications to help communities prepare for and recover from natural disasters.

We’ve seen developers at hackathons around the globe step up and answer the call, but what made this event unique is that we’re now calling on the power of the community – in true open source fashion – to pick up the torch.

During the two-day hack, cross-functional teams tackled four pressing challenges related to natural disasters, and shared ideas for mobile apps and other open-source based solutions that can be built using IBM technologies. This foundational framework has the potential to spawn hundreds of new ideas and launch open technology solutions that help communities needing critical aid.

The United Nations was instrumental in making this event a success. Based on decades of field experience and research, representatives from the UN Human Rights Office and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction worked with IBMers to determine challenge statements related to natural disasters. Four teams were formed and asked to use design thinking to create a framework for viable technology solutions to address these pressing needs.

one group discussion at call for code geneva

I was truly inspired by the passion and know-how demonstrated by the teams at the event. In addition to field experts and senior representatives from the UN, we were joined by Call for Code creator David Clark; developers from some of the world’s leading companies, including Capgemini, Deutsche Telekom Group, Lloyds Banking Group, NearForm, Persistent Systems, RBS, and WPP; and open source leaders from The Linux Foundation and Red Hat.

I invite you to take these these solution starter kits and run with them:

Challenge 1: Building Back Better

Enhance resiliency and integrate disaster risk reduction during the recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction phase. The right technology is needed to make buildings and key infrastructure more resilient prior to disaster events and provide systems to help rebuild and recover in the aftermath.

Proposed solution: This platform-based solution aggregates and analyzes historic and present data — infrastructure, agriculture, weather, utility, and more — to derive key insights for future improvement plans.

Challenge 2: Improving Flood and Drought Prevention and Response

Water-related events, such as flood and storm surges, cost billions of dollars in damages every year and force millions to defend their homes, lives, and livelihoods. How can technology help communities prepare for and respond to flood?

Proposed solution: This mobile app incentivizes potential victims by using gamification to share personal information and create an evacuation plan before a flood occurs. Data from the app would feed into a dashboard that helps responders prioritize their assistance and provide real-time updates to those impacted.

Challenge 3: Humanitarian Protection in Times of Disaster

Ensure equal access for everyone to humanitarian action and that the most excluded populations are identified so that they can receive early warnings about imminent risks, as well as available aid.

Proposed solution: This mobile app helps identify individuals with limited mobility and provides them with real-time information about a disaster so they can make an informed choice about evacuation and find loved ones at a shelter.

Challenge 4: Accountability and Centrality of Protection for Affected Populations

Ensure that people affected by humanitarian crises are able to participate in decision-making, provide feedback, and make complaints about humanitarian action. Guarantee that first-responders received education on identifying human rights violations to confidently use relevant human rights guidance when designing/implementing a response.

Proposed solution: This is an app that allows individuals impacted by human rights violations to anonymously record a message in any language, have it converted to text, and securely sent to United Nations observers as potential input on the investigation of abuses.

one of the groups at call for code geneva

Here’s what some of my fellow participants had to say about the event:

“It was inspiring to see so many brilliant technologists and leaders from around the world convene to put technology to work to advance the human rights agenda,” said Laurent Sauveur, chief of external relations at United Nations Human Rights. “We believe that developers have great power to change the world through their code, which is why we are a proud partner in the Call for Code Global Challenge.”

One of the groups whiteboarding at call for code geneva

“Call for Code Geneva was a truly amazing experience,” said Georgia Diamantopoulou, leader of the Innovation and Planning team at Customer Operations, OTE Group, part of Deutsche Telekom Group. “We used all of our knowledge and experience to create an idea that will hopefully inspire other developers to create technology for social good. Coming from the telecommunications industry, I feel honored that I was nominated to participate in such a huge initiative that drives positive and long-lasting change across the world.”

“This experience has been fascinating for me and very different from what I usually do, which is around open source infrastructure, Kubernetes, and cloud computing,” said Cheryl Hung, director of ecosystem for the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, part of the Linux Foundation. “It is very personally satisfying to work on and to come up with a technological solution that can improve and save people’s lives.”

Let’s keep this momentum going. Use our code patterns and tutorials to give you a jump start in building the technology that turns these seeds into towering trees. Join the Call for Code 2019 Global Challenge and harness open source innovation to protect, aid, and serve communities impacted by natural disasters.

To learn more about the newly published starter kits and to incorporate them in your own solution, visit https://developer.ibm.com/callforcode/starters.