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Can your code help with natural and climate disasters?

We’ve talked about Call for Code a competition that challenges developers to find technical solutions that can help before, during or after climate and natural disasters. But what can you think of that does not already exist? Best what, it turns out. A lot of modern software developments are not used at all in emergency response. Call for Code allows teams (up to 5 people) to see what is possible with AI, blockchain or big data in that context.

The initiative is supported by IBM among others. They offer their technical know-how to help developers make an innovative application or technique. Think of access to Watson, Cloud Accounts, the use of more than 35 applications and full libraries full of examples and code to help you on your way.

What kind of problems are you going to solve?

Every disaster is unique, but there is always one constant: chaos. What often appears is that emergency services are not ‘connected’ to each other and that is being worked on each other . There is a lot to be gained and by combining big data and AI you can also process and analyze a lot of data in small team to see where there is overlap. Think of linking data about walkability of an area, for example. Reports from aid workers who are (sometimes literally) thwarted by the environment can then be linked to the services that can clear the way. A second link to emergency services on site indicates where and when they do have free passage. You can go even further: an AI can make an overview of all routes that are closed or not. Then alternative routes can be offered to aid workers who do not advance.

Sometimes, however, there is no passable road in a disaster area and further help must come through the air. In case of an earthquake, flooding or in the aftermath of a hurricane drones are an increasingly used solution. They offer an efficient way to get small payloads such as medicines in places that are unreachable for wheeled vehicles. Coordination is also needed there, so an application that can track different types of drones (in case of a disaster is all that flies usable) so that they do not get in each other’s way is very useful.

Making smart links

With every disaster, in addition to the chaos and damage caused by nature – or in fact precisely because of this – crime is a recurring problem. Areas that have not been directly affected but have been evacuated, for example, are often plundered. How do you stop that? Are there models that predict where the risk of crime is greatest so that you can get justice on the spot in time? Is there a way to use the Internet of Things to monitor an area?

These are just a few examples of problems that occur after a disaster has taken place. You can of course also contribute by coming up with something that can help with an upcoming disaster or dangerous situation. For example, you can link the supply chain and weather forecast databases, so that when there is a threat of severe weather, extra water, medicines and other useful items can be taken. Or a warning method that uses social media, but automatically. Perhaps an app where citizens can use the cameras around their homes to assess a situation is useful. Whatever the idea is, if it contributes to the preparedness it is welcome.

You still have the whole summer to participate

There are so many technological solutions to think of all these kinds of scenarios that it is clear why this competition is being set up: if you have 500,000 developers all in their own way this kind of problem lets look there are always a number of things that nobody has thought of.

That is exactly why you as a developer have to participate in the Call for Code Challenge : you learn a lot from it, it gives you the opportunity to (learn to) use the IBM tools and maybe your team has the first version of an application that does something that everyone wants, but that has not yet been created. Then there is a good chance that the idea will be further elaborated by the experts from the Corporate Service Corps (CSC) of IBM. You also have a chance of winning the top prize of $ 200,000, but that’s a side issue if you’re making the world a better place, right? Your code is protected in any case, because everything you produce during the challenge is and remains yours.

If you as a developer are interested in blockchain, the Internet of Things or the efforts of AI, this is the chance to get started with the professional matter with professional help. You can see in our previous article what you should think about when forming a team, but you can of course also check out the possibilities on the Call for Code page from IBM. If you want to get some extra inspiration, come to the Meetup in Amsterdam on 7 July. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet some potential teammates! The community is now forming and you still have until the end of August to set up something with like-minded people and end up in the Dutch selection. If you are through you can participate in the international pitch on 24 September. So get started!

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