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“Call for Code” Competition to help Tackle Disaster Relief Challenges

Competition includes £22 million in funding

By Umar Hassan

Multinational technology company IBM this week teamed up with the United Nations and Angelhack in a $30 million (approx. £22 million) “Call for Code” initiative.

The programme invites developers to create new applications to help communities and people better prepare for natural disasters.

For example, developers may create an app that uses weather data and supply chain information to alert pharmacies to increase supplies of medicine, bottled water and other items based on predicted weather-related disruption.

Or it could be an app that predicts when and where the disaster will be most severe, so emergency crews can be dispatched ahead of time in proper numbers to treat those in need, IBM suggested.

The company’s investment over five years will fund access to developer tools, technologies, free code and training with experts.

The winning team will receive “a financial prize” (IBM has been contacted by Computer Business Review for a number!) and gain access to long-term support to help move their idea from prototype to real-world application. This includes ongoing developer support through IBM’s partnership with the Linux Foundation.

“Responding to large-scale national and international disasters is a team effort, and we are excited to leverage skills and insights from the tech industry to address global challenges,” said Brad Kieserman, VP at the American Red Cross.

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He added: “Partnerships and technology like this allow for smarter and faster response efforts, which are critical to help those in need more quickly and efficiently.”

Developers can register today at

Call for Code joins a number of tech initiatives dedicated to helping communities recover from or develop resilience natural disasters.

These initiatives include The Challenge Fund, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap, Global Earthquake Model, the Digital Elevation Model Project and Solving the Puzzle: Innovating to Reduce Risk, as well as Refugee Code Week.

The World Bank’s multi-year project “Code for Resilience” – launched in 2014 – meanwhile focusses on finding country partners that are willing to use their financial and technical resources to co-invest in developing capacity, community and tools thus strengthening community resilience.

Activities include identifying problem statements, building capacity through open source and open data tools, expertise investment, coding for resilience with two-to-three-day collaborative code sprints with local partners, and evaluating delivery against problem statements.


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