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Coders respond to Covid-19 in IBM challenge

A mobile app that replaces physical lines at shopping centres, businesses and polling places with on-demand virtual lines is chosen as one of the initial top three solutions.

Coders are already rising to the coronavirus challenge
Coders are already rising to the coronavirus challenge

As part of an expanded Call for Code global challenge to develop solutions for Covid-19 as well as climate change, IBM has identified three initial top solutions for early deployment to help contribute to the pandemic response efforts.


Writing in a blog post, Bob Lord, IBM senior vice president, cognitive applications, blockchain and ecosystems, opined the ‘outstanding’ solutions “have the potential to make a real difference in the world”.


Developer community


Lord said that while the organisers of the challenge originally focused this year’s competition on addressing climate change, they quickly recognised the opportunity to dedicate the ingenuity of this developer community to respond to Covid-19 as well.


He added: “These are two pressing issues that have the power to compromise our health, our planet, and our survival. We recognise the urgency to act, so we also created an accelerated timeline for the Call for Code Covid-19 track.”


Since its launch in 2018, IBM reports its Call for Code movement has grown to more than 300,000 developers and problem solvers across 168 countries.

“We recognise the urgency to act, so we also created an accelerated timeline for the Call for Code Covid-19 track.”

The top three solutions selected for their potential to help mitigate the impact of Covid-19 are:

  • Safe Queue is a community-driven mobile app that is intended to replace physical lines at shopping centres, small businesses, and polling places with on-demand virtual lines, to enable a safer way to manage entry during Covid-19. Safe Queue uses GPS location data to create a virtual queue of those within 1,000 feet of a location, allowing employees to control the queue digitally, and validating entry with a randomly generated QR code for each customer. This solution builds on IBM Cloud Foundry for web app hosting, Here Technologies for geolocation, and IBM Cloudant to store data. Created by a single developer in Los Angeles, who "grabbed" the Call for Code Community Cooperation starter kit and went from there
  • Are you Well? is an app created by a team from Altran in India, designed to be a comprehensive medical assistance system that could reduce the stress on over-taxed medical systems. A mobile app would help individuals evaluate their symptoms, aided by IBM Watson Assistant. The solution would then leverage a global dashboard that assigns cases a high-, medium-, or low level of risk based on thresholds set by healthcare providers, and connect them with medical professionals who could use the data to prioritise cases and offer care in a safer manner
  • CovidImpact was created by a global team that came together at the University of British Columbia, hailing from Canada, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, and Mexico. The solution aims to reduce the financial impact of Covid-19 on small businesses. A predictive assessment tool, created with IBM Watson Tone Analyser linguistic analysis and IBM’s ILOG CPLEX rules engine for decision making, could forecast businesses’ financial risk levels. CovidImpact offers a curated list of federal resources for small businesses, and a real-time news feed of sentiment-analysis evaluated articles. The solution also offers an economic impact heatmap that visualises where need is greatest, which can help officials direct business aid to specific regions or industries.

IBM said there is still an opportunity to join the 2020 Call for Code global challenge. Register and get all the resources needed here, including exclusive access to a new disease tracker API from the Weather Company.


IBM added it will continue to accept submissions for both climate change and Covid-19 through 31 July, and plan to announce the global challenge winners in October 2020.

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