UPDATED, March 20, 2020: IBM announced it will expand the scope of the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge to include solutions that address COVID-19. In this realm, IBM is looking for solutions that focus on crisis communication, remote education and community cooperation.
"In a very short time, COVID-19 has revealed the limits of the systems we take for granted," IBM said in a statement.
The 2020 competition still calls on solutions that address the effects of climate change, as well. The competition opened for submissions today, two day earlier than previously announced, according to the statement.
IBM announced its third Call for Code Global Challenge, which will call on software developers to "halt and reverse" the effects of climate change with open source-powered technology. The announcement coincides with the 75th anniversary of the United Nations (UN), which is demanding a "global reality check" on the state of the climate.
Seventy-seven percent of first responders and developers agree that climate change is "the most pressing issue" of their generation, according to a global survey by IBM. And 75% of those surveyed agreed that the open source community can help scale climate solutions to communities in need.
IBM announced the 2020 challenge in partnership with the United Nations Human Rights and the Linux Foundation. The challenge will be open for submissions on March 20.
Eighty-seven percent of those surveyed said it’s important for a potential employer to act on climate change. IBM’s Call for Code Global Challenge is just one example of the private sector and technology companies galvanizing to mitigate the effects of climate change, particularly in lieu of strong federal leadership and investments.
"We’ve stated for more than a decade that climate change is a serious concern that warrants meaningful action on a global basis to stabilize the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases," Daniel Krook, chief technology officer of IBM's Code and Response and Call for Code challenge, told Smart Cities Dive via email. "All sectors of society, the economy and governments worldwide must participate in solutions to address climate change."
Last year's challenge brought in more than 180,000 applicants from 165 nations, with more than 5,000 applications focused on natural disaster relief and preparation.
The 2019 winning team, Prometeo, is a hardware-software solution that helps keep firefighters safe using artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT). The Barcelona team's solution used multiple sensors strapped to a firefighter’s arm to measure factors like smoke concentration or humidity. That information is then distilled into a color-coded status in real-time for fire command centers to monitor each individual’s health.
Prometeo received a cash prize of $200,000 and technical support from IBM and the Linux Foundation to help bring their concept to scale.
The 2018 Code for Challenge winner, Project Owl, is also focused on natural disaster relief; the team developed its winning solution following the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The disastrous effects of the 2017 hurricane was compounded by a lack of basic resources like cell service to connect to emergency response teams after the storm. As a result, Project Owl designed an IoT and software solution to improve connectivity and communication after such a storm.
"Big ideas can't come from big companies alone," Krook said. "We believe a network of private companies and collaborators is invaluable to support and inspire the tech community to build meaningful, practical and scalable solutions that can help save lives."