Fourth Annual Call for Code Challenges Developers to Tackle 'Existential Threat of Climate Change'

The 4th annual Call for Code Global Challenge, which invites software developers from around the world to create open-source solutions to combat climate change, got underway this week.

The Call for Code Initiative has grown to more than 400,000 developers and problem solvers this year across 179 countries, and it has generated more than 15,000 applications. The goal of Challenge organizers is "to drive immediate and lasting humanitarian progress around the world through the creation of practical applications built on open source-powered software…" The list of open-source platforms includes Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Cloud, IBM Watson, IBM Blockchain, atmospheric data from IBM's Weather Company, and developer resources and APIs from partners such as Intuit and New Relic.

"Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and we must apply our collective ingenuity and cutting-edge technologies to make a lasting difference," said IBM's Ruth Davis, director of Call for Code, in a statement. "Together with our ecosystem of partners, IBM will work with the winning team to incubate and deploy their solution in communities where it's most needed, just as we've done with past winners. I encourage every developer and innovator around the world to seize this opportunity through Call for Code to change our climate trajectory."

The winning team from each Call for Code Global Challenge receives $200,000 and support from the IBM Service Corps, technical experts, and ecosystem partners to incubate their technology, open source their code, and deploy their solutions on the ground in communities around the world, said David Clark, CEO of David Clark Cause, and creator of Call for Code.

"This year the competition focuses on three sub-themes that are key to combatting climate change," Clark said in a statement, "clean water and sanitation; zero hunger; and responsible production and green consumption."

Last year's grand prize winner, Agrolly, developed an app designed to support small farmers by providing climate and crop predictions and recommendations. "Our focus is on the small farmers in emerging markets, because they are the ones who need help the most," Agrolly CEO Maneola Morais told ADTmag last year. "Most of the time people build the technology for the big players, because they can pay money for that. But it's really the small farms where we think we have an opportunity to start to make real change in the farming industry for the long run."

The ¬†Agrolly team has expanded their solution to new markets and provided hands-on training to more than 500 rural farmers across Mongolia, India, and Brazil, who are testing and using the app to fight the effects of climate change. Agrolly is also working with the IBM Service Corps on a deployment plan to improve and test their technology in the coming months.

Created by David Clark Cause with founding partner IBM, and in partnership with United Nations Human Rights and The Linux Foundation, Call for Code is among the largest "tech-for-good" challenges of its kind. In 2019, more than 180,000 participants from 165 countries responded to the call, creating more than 5,000 applications focused on natural disaster preparedness and relief. Last year more than 300,000 developers and problem solvers across 168 countries signed up for the Challenge. Health insurance provider Anthem became a Challenge supporter last year, committing to jointly deploying one of the top solutions from the COVID challenge track. The 2020 Call for Code Challenge also included a dedicated University Edition through a partnership that began last year with the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U). More than 10,000 students participated last year. The Challenge organizers also unveled a new Call for Code initiative last year: Call for Code for Racial Justice, which IBM described as "a vital initiative that brings together technology and a powerful ecosystem to combat one of the greatest challenges of our time: racial injustice."

Call for Code has generated more than 30 solutions, which are being incubated and field tested in a series of deployments that includes 12 open source projects hosted by the Linux Foundation. Operating under the foundation's umbrella enables these projects to evolve with the support of an open-source community. On UN World Water Day, the Linux Foundation announced that Call for Code solution Liquid Prep will be hosted by the Foundation, so developers worldwide can contribute their mobile, IoT, Edge, cloud, and weather skills to help farmers optimize water usage during droughts.

The diverse and like-minded global ecosystem of experts, companies, foundations, universities, and celebrities supporting Call for Code continues to expand. The ecosystem includes UN World Food Programme Innovation Accelerator experts, Arrow Electronics, Black Girls Code, Caribbean Girls Hack, Clinton Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative University, Ingram Micro, Intuit, Kode With Klossy, NearForm, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, United Way, and World Institute on Disability. The list supporting celebs includes Lady Gaga, Ellen DeGeneres, Kristen Bell, LL Cool J, Celine Dion, David Copperfield, Wiz Khalifa, Jeff Bridges, Sting, Cher, and Trevor Noah, among others.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].