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IBM today announced that it will expand the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge, its developer competition, to include a focus on COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus that’s struck over 250,000 people. In the next week, it plans to make three quick-start guides available to help developers create apps that address specific COVID-19 areas, including crisis communication during an emergency; ways to improve remote learning; and how to inspire cooperative local communities.

Developers can register for the challenge starting today to create apps with open source software built on Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Cloud, IBM Watson, IBM Blockchain, and data from The Weather Company. IBM says it will work with the teams who create the most promising solutions to build, fortify, test, and deploy them through The Linux Foundation’s Code and Response program.

“We are working with some of the world’s leading experts to define the most pressing needs and provide the most helpful resources,” IBM said in a statement. “Together, we have the power to use the latest technology in ways that make an immediate and lasting humanitarian impact in local communities and across the globe. Thank you for answering the call in this unprecedented time in our history.”

Submissions open today, and grand prize winners will receive $200,000 in cash. The abovementioned guides will become available in the next week.

As previously announced, this year’s Call for Code Global Challenge will also aim to foster solutions to climate change and its effects. Starter kits developed by Red Hat, JP Morgan Chase, Persistent Systems, Unity Technologies, NearForm, and Johnson & Johnson — each of which includes a description of the starter solution, an architectural diagram, and a tutorial with starter code and reference materials — explain the individual problems people and communities are facing, like water sustainability, energy sustainability, and disaster resiliency.

IBM says it will build a “wide ecosystem” of partners and tech providers to help participants round out their solutions. For example, the HERE location API will let developers access geospatial data, routing, geofencing, and interactive maps.

“[The topics in the kits are] essential to halting and reversing climate change, and grounded in real-world needs defined by the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction,” said IBM. “[This is an] urgent crisis that has the power to compromise our health, our planet, our survival. We’re asking developers, data scientists, and problem solvers to answer the call.”

IBM’s inaugural 2018 Call for Code Global Challenge designed solar-powered mesh network devices that could be deployed in areas hit hard by natural disasters, such as parts of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. And last year’s grand prize winner developed a health monitoring platform for firefighters.


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