The Call for Code initiative aims to harness the collective power of the global open source developer community against the growing threat of natural disasters. According to IBM, “the goal is to develop technology solutions that significantly improve disaster preparedness, provide relief from devastation caused by fires, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes, and benefit Call for Code’s charitable partners — the United Nations Human Rights Office and the American Red Cross.”
In a recent webcast — How 22M Developers Take on Disaster Preparedness — Mary Glackin, SVP of Science & Forecast at The Weather Company and IBM Business, spoke with representatives from participating organizations about the initiative and some of the specific goals it aims to achieve.
The Call for Code is “encouraging the global community of developers to stand up for the rights of others,” said Laurent Sauveur, Chief of External Relations, UN Human Rights.
“It’s an exciting cause and it’s a meaningful one,” said Trishan de Lanerolle, Program Manager, Networking at The Linux Foundation, which will host the code developed through this initiative.
Additionally, Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux and Git, will join a panel of technologists to evaluate submissions. Once complete, the winning solution will be deployed in the real world. Angel Diaz, VP Developer, IBM, explained that The Linux Foundation will host the code under the Apache 2.0 license, which will allow the code to evolve and improve even beyond the scope of this contest.
“Technology can be a wonderful and very powerful force for good,” said Sauveur, and it can improve things like tracking of aid delivery and communication in crisis situations to help pinpoint areas of need.
Getting people what they need, when they need it, and where they need it to alleviate suffering is key, said Brad Kieserman, Vice President of Disaster Cycle Services American Red Cross. And, the science of where is critical: where is the damage, where are the resources, where do they need to be?
Predictive analytics are at the center of this practice, said Kieserman, to help visualize data relating to the movement of people and resources. “As models of service delivery improve, we can better understand the need and increase efficiency.”
Ben Narasin, Venture Partner, New Enterprise Associates offered tips for approaching the development challenge. When building such solutions, he said, it’s important to consider scale. You need an idea that can scale, you need to build code that can scale, and you need to look at building a team that can scale.
“You cannot look at this from the perspective of ‘I have a cool technology that I want to deploy that will solve this problem.’” said de Lanerolle. “You have to think about your product being used in resource-poor environments.” For example, you have to consider things like connectivity and battery life and how to get your data at the end of the day. Such last mile challenges are critical, and open source can help.
Don’t reinvent the wheel, said de Lanerolle. “Take the opportunity to look at what’s out there.” He suggests looking at “existing technologies that are backed by open source projects where you can build resources that are available for everybody rather than just building out a one-time solution.”
Commit to the Cause
If you’re a coder, sign up, and if you’re interested, spread the word, said Glackin. “We can all be involved. Let’s all answer the call for code and make a difference in the world.”
We invite you to amplify the initiative and join the call. You can learn more about the Call for Code and watch the complete webcast here: http://ibm.biz/BdYxHZ.