IBM backs effort to tap cloud, big data, AI and blockchain for disaster relief

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IBM and partners have launched the Call for Code Global Initiative, an effort to spur start-up, academic and enterprise developers to tap cloud, big data, AI and blockchain technologies to help societies prevent, respond to and recover from natural disasters.

During a keynote address at last week’s VivaTech Conference in Paris, IBM chairman, president and CEO Ginni Rometty committed IBM technology and $30 million over five years to the annual Call for Code Global Initiative.

Through Call for Code, IBM and David Clark Cause are joining forces with the United Nations Human Rights Office, which focuses on securing the participation of affected groups in preparedness, response and recovery efforts, and bringing attention to the most excluded and marginalized populations.

Call for Code also integrates the American Red Cross’ focus on new ways to bring support to disaster victims – especially important with 2017 ranked as one of the worst years on record for catastrophic events, including fires, floods, earthquakes and storms.

Call for Code 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’s $30 million investment will fund access to developer tools, technologies, free code and training with experts. The winning team will receive a financial prize, as well as access to long-term support to help move their idea from prototype to real-world application, including ongoing developer support through IBM’s partnership with the Linux Foundation.

IBM is the founding member of the Call for Code Global Initiative, which was created by David Clark, founder of David Clark Cause.

“The Call for Code Global Initiative was created to realize the full potential of developers, as they play a critical role in driving innovation that can shape and save lives. When these change agents are inspired to use their unique skills to help people in need, they do,” said Clark.

“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.”

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