IBM has launched a fairly unique initiative with the ” Call for Code Global Initiative “. This should bring startups, academics and developers together to prevent natural disasters and, if they do occur, be able to respond better. The applications that have to do this may use all sorts of techniques, from blockchain, artificial intelligence to the Internet of things. IBM will release $ 30 million in the next five years.
The initiative was launched in collaboration with the UN human rights branch and that is no coincidence. The idea is to use technology to include the most marginalized and excluded populations in the preparation for natural disasters, precisely because those groups often suffer the most during a humanitarian crisis.
The Red Cross also participates in the initiative and so the programmers who come up with new applications will have to focus on new ways to support disaster victims. That is important, because last year was one of the worst years ever in terms of natural disasters. The organizations that respond to these disasters must work together as a team and that part of the emergency aid still has a lot to gain, IBM says.
IBM hopes that the initiative will produce new apps that do things that are not happening now. An example is an app that combines weather data and stock data so that medication, water and other necessities can be taken out prematurely. Another example is a weather app that can predict in advance where a disaster will do the most damage, so that the emergency services can be sent in time and are ready to help those affected.
The initiative is in fact a kind of contest, in which ultimately a winning team is chosen. The money that IBM makes available is not only given to the ‘winner’ of the competition, but also invested in tools for the developers, free code and training with experts in certain fields and technology that can help with the development. The winners also receive a prize, but may especially enjoy the fact that their idea or app is brought to reality with long-term support from the initiators.
In order to ensure that this all has a chance of success, the winners are then linked to the Linux Foundation and allowed to collaborate with one of the Corporate Service Corps (CSC) of IBM. These CSC teams are used to applying technology to disadvantaged communities in a period of four to six weeks in order to solve a problem locally.
It’s a great initiative, that’s for sure, but that does not mean that the submissions will flow in on their own. To give it some extra attention, IBM has planned hackathons, interactive educational events and developer support in more than 50 cities around the world, including Amsterdam. If you are a solo developer or team of up to five people, you can register via Callforcode.org and you can register a project between 18 June and 31 August of this year. Who knows? Perhaps you will make the difference later on.