Call for Code Is Open and Organizations Are Lining Up to Join the Cause


By Bob Lord, Chief Digital Officer, IBM

Today is the first official day of Call for Code, an annual global initiative from creator David Clark Cause, with IBM proudly serving as Founding Partner. Call for Code aims to unleash the collective power of the global open source developer community against the growing threat of natural disasters.

Even as we prepare to accept submissions from technology teams around the world, the response from the technology community has been overwhelming and today I am thrilled to announce two new partners joining the cause.

New Enterprises Associates (NEA) has confirmed its participation as a Partner Affiliate and the official Founding Venture Capital Partner to the cause. With over $20 billion in committed capital and a track record of partnering with entrepreneurs and innovations that have truly changed the world, NEA will extend the Call for Code into the startup and venture capital ecosystem and the Global Prize Winners will have the opportunity to pitch their solution to NEA for evaluation and feedback.

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) has also confirmed it will join the Call for Code as a Gold Sponsor. CNCF will bring invaluable experience and advice for technology teams looking to deploy their solutions across a variety of topologies and real-world constraints.

With NEA and CNCF on board the commitment to the cause is widening, and this is only the beginning. Since making the announcement, technology companies, consumer companies, universities, NGOs and celebrities have all expressed interest in answering or supporting the call. Events have taken place in 50 cities around the world, and many more are planned in coming months, providing training and bringing teams together.

Announced on May 24 by IBM Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty, IBM is investing $30 million over five years as well as technology and resources to help kick start Call for Code to address some of the toughest social issues we face today. 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.

The need was never more apparent. Even as we made the announcement in Paris, Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano was erupting, reportedly destroying more than 450 homes. In recent weeks, Guatemala’s ‘Volcano of Fire’ reportedly left 110 dead and around 200 missing. In a worrying preview to the 2018 Atlantic hurricane Season, two category 4 hurricanes – Aletta and Bud – formed in a matter of days last week.

2017 was in fact one of the worst on record for catastrophic natural disasters, impacted millions of lives and billions of dollars of damage – from heat waves in Australia and sustained extreme heat in Europe to famine from drought in Somalia and massive floods and landslides in South East Asia.

We can’t stop a hurricane or a lava flow from wreaking havoc, but we can work together to predict their path; get much needed supplies into an area before disaster strikes, and help emergency support teams allocate their precariously stretched resources.

Last week, The Weather Company, an IBM business, announced it would make weather APIs available to Call for Code participants for access to data on weather conditions and forecasts. IBM Code Patterns get developer teams up and running in minutes, with access to cloud, data, AI and blockchain technologies.

Of course, the real magic happens when coders code. The open source developer community has helped build so much of the technology that is transforming our world. IBM has been supporting that community for over two decades and together we have helped reinvent the social experience. Our hope is that this community can help transform the experience of so many people impacted by natural disasters in coming years.

To help rally that community the Linux Foundation, a long-term partner for IBM, is lending its support and Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, will join a panel of eminent technologists to evaluate submissions.

Less surprising, at least to me, was the enthusiasm IBMers showed in responding to the call. We saw internal celebrations around the world in support of the launch last month and we anticipate a healthy contribution to the cause from the 35,000 developers within IBM, plus of course IBM’s own Corporate Service Corps will help deploy the winning ideas on the ground.

Ultimately, the real measure of success will be the impact Call for Code has on some of the most at-risk communities around the globe, and the lives that are saved and improved. With Call for Code now open, the time to make a difference is now.

This article originally appeared on the IBM developerWorks blog.