IBM’s Call for Developers to Combat Natural Disasters


Technology till now was in a support role for disaster management teams but with the advancement of cloud, data, AI and blockchain, it can now take the centre stage in fighting the havoc caused by natural disasters

IBM and partners launched the ‘Call for Code’ Global Initiative, to bring startup, academic and enterprise developers together. Their aim is to solve one of the most pressing societal issues of the time in order to prevent, respond to and recover from natural disasters.

Utilising technology to solve societal issues

IBM President and CEO, Ginni Rometty called on the technology industry to help build a better future, committing IBM’s technology and US$ 30 million for the next five years in annual Call for Code global initiative. Its goal is to unite the world’s leading technologies with human intelligence to address social challenges.

Chief digital officer, Bob Lord stated that the power of technologies like AI, blockchain, IoT and cloud to acknowledge some of the biggest opportunities and challenges in business at IBM.

With Call for Code, they are calling on all developers to join them and use these same leading edge technologies to help people, communities and society.

Technology can be a powerful force to advance human rights and build more equitable societies. Call for Code is an opportunity to explore how technology can play a role in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable populations of the society and for those who are at risk of having their human rights violated.

Through this global initiative, IBM and David Clark Cause are joining forces with the UNHR (United Nations Human Rights) office and its human rights-based approach to humanitarian action. It will focus on securing the participation of affected groups in preparedness, response and recovery efforts hence bringing attention to the most excluded and marginalised populations.

A team effort to bring developers together to mitigate natural disasters

Call for Code also integrates the American Red Cross, focuses on new ways to bring support to disaster victims – especially important with IBM’s data that has ranked 2017 as one of the worst years on record for catastrophic events, including fires, floods, earthquakes and storms.

At the American Red Cross, Vice president of Disaster Cycle Services Brad Kieserman said, “Responding to large-scale national and international disasters is a team effort, and we are excited to leverage skills and insights from the tech industry to address global challenges.”

Developers need to create apps for faster response

Call for Code invites developers to create new applications to help communities and people better prepare for natural disasters. For example, developers may create an app that uses weather data and supply chain information to alert pharmacies to increase supplies of medicine, bottled water and other items based on predicted weather-related disruption.

It could also be an app that predicts when and where the disaster will be most severe so emergency crews can be dispatched ahead of time in proper numbers to treat those in need. IBM US$ 30 million investment over five years will fund access to developer tools, technologies, free code and training with experts.

The winning team will receive a financial prize yet perhaps more rewarding, they will have access to long-term support to help move their ideas from prototypes to real-world applications. This includes ongoing developer support through IBM’s partnership with the Linux Foundation.

Winning submissions need a strong ecosystem to ensure that they will flourish and continue to be deployed across the globe long after the competition ends. “That’s where The Linux Foundation is proud to step in and help equip open-source projects with the tools they need to accelerate adoption,” said the Executive director of The Linux Foundation Jim Zemlin.

In addition to development support, the winning team can join one of IBMs Corporate Service Corps (CSC) teams to apply their ideas to a community in need. IBM CSC teams are multi-disciplinary experts who spend four to six weeks in underserved communities around the world to apply technology to local issues and opportunities.

Call for Code Global Initiative

IBM is the founding member of the ‘Call for Code’ Global Initiative, which was created by David Clark. His works include iconic people and humanitarian organisations such as President Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, Prince, the United Nations, Amnesty International, and The Anne Frank Centre.

This initiative was created to realise the full potential of developers as they play a critical role in driving innovation that can shape and save lives. Founder of David Clark Cause David Clark said that “when these change agents are inspired to use their unique skills to help people in need, they do.”

“There could not be a more significant founding partner for this important global initiative than IBM, and I’ m both privileged and honoured they have answered the call,” he added.

GRAMMY-nominated singer and human rights advocate Andra Day is leading a celebrity coalition supporting the Call for Code Global Initiative. She admired the mission of the initiative and how it aims to create technology based solutions to help people in need.

To raise awareness and interest in the initiative, IBM is coordinating interactive educational events, hackathons and community support for developers around the world in more than 50 cities, including Amsterdam, Bengaluru, Berlin, Delhi, Dubai, London, New York, San Francisco, Sao Paulo and Tel Aviv.

How to participate in Call for Code?

Developers can register today at Projects can be submitted by individuals or teams of up to five people between June 18, 2018 and August 31, 2018. 30 semi-finalists will be selected in September. A prominent jury will choose the winning solution from three finalists. The winner will be announced in October 2018 during a live-streamed concert and award event coordinated by David Clark Cause.


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