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Fighting Natural Disasters with #CallForCode Challenge

A global multiyear challenge organised by IBM to attract software developers around the globe in finding solutions to better prepare, respond and recover from natural disasters.

Natural Disasters is one of the world’s greatest issues for a long time. The calamities like hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, volcanoes can lead to a major delinquent who can disturb the livelihood of the people and it creates a huge loss to the people and their well-being. In order to uphold and lessen such disputes, IBM is challenging software developers across the globe to create unique solutions that help in mitigating the damages caused by natural disasters through their Call For Code initiative. 

#CallForCode is the most impactful initiative organised by IBM along with other organisations such as The Linux Foundation, UN Human Rights, and the American Red Cross. The Red Cross made a powerful statement in its World Disasters Report:

When disaster strikes, access to information is “just as important as food and water” and is an increasingly critical need.

The apps created as a part of this challenge can benefit people widely across the world to get proper notifications and awareness to secure them from being ruined. This can arrange for apt disaster preparedness, build resilient communities, and safeguard the health and well-being of individuals and institutions.

Coders and developers need to research and develop technology that can help agencies through all stages of disaster management — preparedness, response, and recovery. For example, coders can address problems such as lack of understanding of the risks by potential natural hazards by local communities, and the need for community-based disaster emergency warning systems.

The winners of this global multi-year challenge will be receiving a cash prize of $200,000 USD along with other benefits such as long-term project support from The Linux Foundation, an invitation to the Call for Code global prize event and many more. The first and second runner-up will be each receiving $25,000 USD and other benefits. It is necessary to use at least 5 IBM Cloud services to qualify for the judgement. More rules and details about the event can be found here.

How would an app help during natural calamity?

Recently, in Oman, a cyclone more powerful than any previously recorded killed at least seven people while more than 30 remain missing. In such cases, we may think that this calamity would be managed if it was already known to the people. 

Hurricane Hound tracker has been frequently updated over the years, and offers over 65 detailed storm maps and images, threat and impact levels, model predictions, audio/video forecast updates, and real-time feeds and push alerts. This app helped to forecast the hurricane Harvey 2017.

The StormEye app provided detailed information about storms around your location and tells you important information such as the storm’s location relative to your location, where the storm is heading, the storm’s intensity, hail probabilities, and maximum hail size.

Based on this, it’s well-known that the applications can help to reduce the loss of life and property from natural disasters.
The 2010 January earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where tools such as Twitter, and Open Street Map proved their efficacy, the role of developers for disaster management has been widely recognized.
When nature releases its wrath on several parts of the world, it’s, of course, an eccentric thought to provide such apps to the public in all the emergency conditions commended by the authorities. But sometimes when it comes to disasters, it’s not the authorities or roomed up windows that will save you. It’s information. And it can only be unlocked through updated applications. In the lead up to emergencies, access to accurate information can mean the difference between life and death.

Call for Code initiative will definitely increase collaboration between governments and technologists to source innovative solutions to local resilience challenges.

Call for Code will be a unique opportunity for coders to refine their ideas and showcase them in front of a global community.
Even if the app developed is simple, the collaborative effort in developing community initiatives to increase resilience to disasters helps to stimulate and leverage user-driven innovation. These kinds of efforts will help to address global development challenges while building sustainable relationships between entrepreneurs, the private sector, multilaterals, universities, and the individuals who are affected by these development challenges.

Resources for Call For Code

IBM’s website has a ton of resources sorted according to the type of disasters and according to the various technologies, areas to help you get started. Apart from the main event, there are several Call For Code meetups organised around the world. You’ll find these resources very helpful if you are planning to take part in the challenge and we suggest that you do!

Conclusion

#CallForCode is one of the best opportunities that a software developer can get to make an impact on the world. The code you write may help save millions of lives, what more do you need! Let’s show that a software developer has the power to save many lives. Immediate actions the after a catastrophic event are crucial to help people survive, but preparedness for a plausible disaster helps make a community buoyant to the crisis.


The submissions will be closed on August 31st so register today if you haven’t already.

UPDATE: The submissions deadline has been extended to September 28th and now there is a $10,000 prize for the teams that secure 4th and 5th place.

Shan Eapen Koshy

Shan Eapen Koshy is a web developer, technical blogger and a YouTuber. He has created several web applications and has written many app scripts.

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