IBM has announced the launch of a five-year, $30 million initiative to bring startup, academic, and enterprise developers together to help communities prevent, respond to, and recover from natural disasters.
Announced during the VivaTech Conference in Paris, the Call for Code Global Initiative will tap into artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud, and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to create applications designed to help communities and individuals better prepare for natural disasters. For example, developers might create an app that uses weather data and supply-chain information to predict weather-related disruptions and alert pharmacies to increase their inventories of needed medicines, bottled water, and other items. Or it could be an app that predicts when and where a disaster will be most severe, so that emergency crews can be dispatched ahead of time in proper numbers.
Between June 18 and August 31, the initiative will accept projects submitted by individuals or teams of up to five people. Thirty semi-finalists will be selected in September, and a winner will be announced in October, with the winning team receiving a cash prize and access to long-term support designed to help move its idea from prototype to real-world application, including ongoing developer support through an IBM 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, vice president of disaster cycle services at the American Red Cross. "Partnerships and technology like this allow for smarter and faster response efforts, which are critical to help those in need more quickly and efficiently."