In 2013, I had the opportunity to manage a USD$2 million demonstration of how cloud computing could be used to support natural disasters. In that Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC) Geospatial Community Cloud (GCC) demonstration, multiple regional clouds were managed using a cloud brokerage platform in a simulated response to a massive earthquake. Modeled after the disaster that struck Haiti in 2010, the project showed how interoperability and movement of data in an open, cloud-based infrastructure could be used to deliver a global, multidisciplinary disaster response. The relief simulation also showed government leaders how data sources from a variety of organizations, coupled with cloud technology, could improve capability and effectiveness while reducing cost, time, and risk. These were critical lessons, and at that time I looked forward to seeing them mature.

Geospatial Community Cloud Presentation
Geospatial Community Cloud Presentation

Now it’s 2018, and technological advances have continued to revolutionize our society. The democratization of data and information has continued to change our lives in many unexpected ways. Unfortunately, despite the efforts of some government leaders, our global society has not yet found a way to institutionalize the lessons we’ve learned along the way. While cloud computing continues to upend industry norms, the disaster response community is still stuck with antiquated processes and technologies. This unfortunate reality is but one reason why I have decided to put my energy behind the Call for Code initiative.

IBM is the founding member of Call for Code Global Initiative, which was created by David Clark, a renowned leader in cause-related initiatives. He has worked with iconic people and humanitarian organizations, such as President Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, Prince, the United Nations, Amnesty International, and The Anne Frank Center. The Call for Code Global Challenge is designed to leverage technology for good by asking software developers to create solutions that significantly improve preparedness for natural disasters and relief. This competition encourages developers to pay their skills forward for a specific mission to help alleviate human suffering. A broad cross-section of humanitarian and international organizations are supporting this initiative, including the United Nations Human Rights Office and the American Red Cross’s international team. These organizations will also benefit from the inaugural Call for Code Global Prize Event and Concert on October 13th during the United Nations International Day for Disaster Reduction.

You can find additional motivation for joining the initiative in this recent video by Brad Kieserman, Red Cross Vice President of Disaster Operations and Logistics. In the video, he highlights the importance of visualizing data in a way that helps responders make better decisions about the movement of resources during a disaster. His vision of using technology to address unmet disaster need underscores the value of the cloud as an application delivery platform and data repository — the same value proposition we proved back in 2013.

Over the next few months I will be blogging, tweeting, podcasting, and vlogging on the many Call for Code activities and events. Please join me in supporting this effort by retweeting, liking, and reposting this content to your friends.

Let’s all work together to help each other when disaster strikes!

Kevin Jackson is a senior information technologist specializing in IT solutions that meet critical business and mission operational requirements. He is the founder and CEO of GovCloud Network. Prior positions include VP & General Manager Cloud Services NJVC, VP Federal Systems at Sirius Computer Solutions, Worldwide Sales Executive at IBM, Vice President Global IT Project Office at JP Morgan Chase, and CTO at SENTEL Corporation.

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