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Global code challenge takes on the coronavirus

The recently launched IBM open source Call for Code Global Challenge is expanding to tackle the coronavirus as well as climate change.

Coronavirus AdobeStock_322035464 (1).jpg
Coronavirus AdobeStock_322035464 (1).jpg

IBM has announced it is expanding the recently launched 2020 Call for Code global challenge to help tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, in addition to climate change.


Since its inception in 2018, Call for Code has leveraged technology to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges: first mitigating the effects of natural disasters, and now addressing the harsh realities of climate change and Covid-19.


Open source technology


In a very short time, climate change and the virus have revealed the limits of the systems society takes for granted with the “power to compromise our health, our planet and our survival”, IBM notes.


According to IBM, the challenge will arm developers, data scientists and problem-solvers with resources to build open source technology solutions that address three main Covid-19 areas: crisis communication during an emergency; ways to improve remote learning; and how to inspire cooperative local communities. These areas are outlined in more detail below:


Crisis communication: in times of crisis, communications systems are one of the first systems to become overwhelmed. Chatbots help respond to tens or even hundreds of thousands of messages a day. Whether via text, websites or communication apps like WhatsApp, being able to converse with chatbots and other resources can play a critical role in helping communities understand everything they need to know rapidly and free up customer service resources to focus on higher-level issues. Whether that’s correct hand-washing procedure, how to properly detect symptoms, or local updates on quarantine, providing crisis communications digitally has a major role to play.


“As with climate change, we are working with some of the world’s leading experts to define the most pressing needs and provide the most helpful resources.”


Remote education: where possible, people who are self-isolating are being asked to work from home, which presents its own set of challenges: transitioning to a new home office or, as some schools close for the foreseeable future, children find themselves stuck indoors for long periods of time. It is important to keep them engaged, entertained and on top of their education. Technology has a pivotal role to play, whether that’s creating ad-hoc classrooms or helping parents quickly adapt to home-schooling.


Community cooperation: local communities must stand united, operate efficiently and be there for their constituents more than ever before. Understanding not only what is happening in your neighbourhood, but also how you can help others, or how others can help you, is vital. Consider how you can incorporate everything from weather data to local food and medical supply information to help your local community better deal with a crisis, especially those who need it most.


IBM intends to follow up next week with more details on its three Covid-19-specific starter kits to help coders “jump-start” solutions.


“As with climate change, we are working with some of the world’s leading experts to define the most pressing needs and provide the most helpful resources,” said Willie Tejada, chief developer advocate, IBM, in a blog post.


“That said, you don’t need to wait. You can register and get started now creating applications with our open-source-powered software built on Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Cloud, IBM Watson, IBM Blockchain and data from the Weather Company.”


IBM said it will work with the teams who create the most promising solutions to build, fortify, test and deploy them through IBM code and response.


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