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Fifth Annual Call for Code Challenges Devs to Use their Powers for Good

Organizers of the fifth annual Call for Code Global Challenge have launched their annual invitation to software developers from around the world to create open-source solutions that accelerate sustainability and combat climate change.

Given the growing animus toward so-called Big Tech in some quarters and what I think can fairly be described as generalized opposition to technological innovation, it’s never been more important to remind the world that tech can be an incredibly powerful force for good. The annual Call for Code has grown since the first challenge was announced to become one of the world’s largest “tech for good” programs. It now attracts developers from 180 countries responding to this clarion call to use advanced technologies to design cutting-edge open source-powered hybrid cloud and AI solutions that can tackle the world’s most pressing societal issues.

There’s a refreshing idealism in this program. Call for Code participants are invited to identify the particular sustainability issue they want to solve, form a team, and start building by registering on the new Global Challenge resource site hosted by BeMyApp. Once they’ve registered, participants will be able to attend Challenge Accelerator events to help fast-track their projects, learn from subject matter experts, access exclusive skills-building materials, and use exclusive toolkits, APIs, and data sets from The Weather Company and participating IBM Ecosystem partners.

But that idealism is undergirded by a pragmatic understanding that we need technology to address problems that are having a global impact. Ruth O. Davis, director of the Call for Code Challenge in IBM’s Worldwide Ecosystems group, put it succinctly in a press release, “Technology is the catalyst for scaling solutions to global problems,” she said, “from climate change to humanitarian issues, and even the global pandemic.”

“Of course, the people who participate in the Challenge are idealists in some ways,” Davis told me in an interview. “They’re very passionate about what they’re doing and want what they’re doing to make a difference. But they also know they need resources to make that happen.”

The awards to the winners of this year’s competition are commensurate with the stakes (you know, saving the world). The Grand Prize is $200,000 plus solution implementation support from IBM Ecosystem partners. First runner up gets $25,000, and third and fourth runners up get $10,000. It’s big money focused on solving big problems.

But even those participants who don’t manage to nab the brass ring have access to some incredible resources while they develop their ideas. They get a trial IBM Cloud account for 2022 that provides access to many free services without a credit card, including the ability to create Kubernetes clusters. They have access to toolkits, APIs, and data sets from Call for Code sponsors. And there are expert webinars, skill-building plans, and even mentors available.

Among the most exciting components of this program are the Challenge Accelerator events. Each Accelerator is a roughly two-week competition designed to help fast-track participants’ projects towards submission to the Global Challenge. (Global Challenge submission is not required). Each participant builds a project to address a specific and targeted use case‚Äč under the theme of “Sustainability.” Each Accelerator is different; some may include technical workshops, mentoring, and additional educational content. And participants may be eligible for additional prizes.

College students will also have the opportunity to compete for the University Prize in a program created by IBM and the Clinton Global Initiative University. In 2021, more than 90,000 students across hundreds of universities around the world surpassed the program goal by nine times, the organizers said. 

David Clark, the CEO of David Clark Cause, is the original Call for Code organizer. He founded the program in 2018, and launched it with IBM, the United Nations Human Rights group, and the Linux Foundation. The list of organizations supporting Call for Code this year includes: Arrow ElectronicsClinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative UniversityClemson University, Esri, EYIngram MicroIntuitthe Linux Foundation, Morgan StanleyNew RelicPersistent SystemsTeach For All, United Nations Human Rights, and United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, among others. 

It's worth noting, too, that Call for Code has been selected as the preferred innovation platform of the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Alliance, one of the largest public/private climate partnerships in the world. 

Solutions can be submitted to this year’s event any time before the deadline of October 31, 2022. You don’t need to be on an existing team to participate. The organizers will be hosting a team building session to help participants form and build teams.

Must-read information about Call for Code winners is available here.

Posted by John K. Waters on May 16, 2022