Planet Earth is a prodigious environment, full of mysterious forces, but the human race has seriously damaged it in the last 50 years.
The Earth could probably heal itself, but in the process, the planet’s ability to support today’s human population would disappear.
Some of the problems we face today have been created by choosing to continue old production methods and ways of living even though a whole new set of transformative industries have been developing.
Supply chains for food and water and the industry to sustain ten billion people all need to undergo a worldwide re-engineering process. People and organizations need to realign themselves in new, interconnected ways if the human race is to survive and thrive. Luckily, technology itself could prove to be a significant part of the cure.
The great news is that you can be part of this cure by participating in the 2021 Call for Code Global Challenge. This worldwide initiative is based on teams working to develop solutions to change the planet’s situation – and their own lives too!
Participate in a team, come up with a solution, and compete for the chance to win US$200,000 and receive comprehensive support to deploy your solution.
The Call for Code initiative offers you the opportunity to build and contribute to sustainable, open-source technology projects that address social and humanitarian issues. Call for Code is different from any other tech-for-good initiative. The winning solutions are deployed to make a demonstrable difference in the communities with the greatest need.
IBM has been part of the Call for Code Global Challenge for a long time – 2021 marks their fourth engagement with the initiative. The challenge itself is based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN.
The excitement felt by participants in previous editions can be experienced by all would-be developers by reading the words of their predecessors. This community includes over 400,000 developers in 179 Countries, creating over 15,000 applications.
The IBM Call for Code Global Challenge 2021 is a great way to help improve the future of our planet. As a developer, you can make a difference. Join the IBM Call for Code Global Challenge 2021 NOW!
- Meet Meryll Dindin, a 2019 finalist
- The 2021 Call for Code Global Challenge
- Let’s get started in four easy steps!
Meet Meryll Dindin, a 2019 finalist
Meryll has always been passionate about the human brain, so it’s not surprising to find him at the intersection between neuroscience, behavioral health, and care.
This 26-year-old young Frenchman has lived in many parts of the world, including Japan, before moving to study and living on the USA’s Pacific coast.
A lot of attention is paid to natural disasters in California, where everybody fears the Big One – an immense earthquake that is always expected due to the proximity of the San Andreas Fault.
A hackathon in Berkeley
“Down in Berkeley, I was involved in a hackathon every two weekends”, recalls Meryll; “and with my friends, we decided to create a project dedicated to first responders in case of a disaster, either from nature or from men, such as a terrorist attack”.
Meryll is French, although his English is accent-free, so he was shocked by the November 2015 Paris attacks, including the infamous attack on the Bataclan Theatre.
These attacks highlighted the need for physical and psychological help for caregivers, such as 911 operators, fire brigades, and other first responders. Meryll and his team came up with a hackathon project named Aster, focusing on this problem, which won the hackathon.
The hackathon in questions was a big one, and IBM people were in attendance. They suggested Meryll’s team should apply for the Call for Code Challenge.
“What’s this? – we all said – but none of us knew it”, smiles the young technologist. None of the team had ever heard of the biggest hackathon in the world! “I still don’t know why I didn’t know about Call for Code”.
Call for Code
The original team of European graduates applied to the 2019 edition. The goal of the 2019 edition of Call for Code was to create open-source technology solutions to mitigate the impact of natural disasters.
IBM employees mentored Aster throughout the process. Everything happened quickly, without time to think of anything other than the project, gathering speed constantly until Aster hit the finals in September 2019.
“It was celebration time at the UN headquarters, with top-level managers from ICT companies, political institutions, and UN hosts: we fully understood what we were doing only that evening”, Meryll reminisces fondly.
Celebrations over, it was business time, the day after the celebration. The Aster team joined Citris Foundry, a well-known start-up incubator. “We needed a viable business model” – something you normally don’t have just lying around!
Aster then became CalAster, and expanded their initial idea into a solution that can scale up to support the complex and overstressed ecosystem of small care organizations that prize their independence but still seek to collaborate with others.
CalAster’s goal is an IoT and AI-based solution that is difficult to describe in just a few words, but for which the need can be made clear with just two numbers: psychological pressure results in about 30% of caregivers developing PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), and the number one KPI is answering in less than 15 seconds, or it’s too late.
974 more years
One more thing gained from this experience was understanding viable business models. He is now a serial entrepreneur as the co-founder of two startups and a member of a third one.
But, he has a bigger project to concentrate on. He wants to live at least 1000 years. Now aged 26, he would have another 974 years to go were it not impossible. Or is it? Maybe, a human being will never live 1000 years, but apparently, AI, neuroscience, and active monitoring could make a difference in this field in a not-so-far future.
The 2021 Call for Code Global Challenge
Let’s return to this year’s competition and what it means for you. The main way to get involved with Call for Code is by forming a team and competing in the Global Challenge.
If your current schedule does not allow you to be part of a team, you can help by contributing code to existing open-source projects.
Three ways to help the world: food, water, and production
IBM’s goal is to broaden their horizons to include different subjects each year. The 2021 challenge focuses on three different ways to help the world: the Zero Hunger Challenge, the Clean Water and Sanitation Challenge, and the Responsible Production and Green Consumption challenge.
Here are more details about each of these challenges.
The Zero-Hunger Challenge
Approximately 9% of the global population suffers from hunger. At the same time, much of the world’s food is grown by small-scale, independent farms and distributed through local community cooperatives that sell surplus produce.
Such co-ops provide a central focus for quality control, deliveries, and enabling the creation of local, food-based commodity markets. However, these co-ops face many logistical challenges when it comes to getting the right food to the right place at a minimal financial and time cost.
A global organizational effort is needed to devise a new, comprehensive supply chain.
Reducing food waste, increasing harvesting, optimizing sustainability, developing cooperative systems, analyzing data of every kind, improving the food supply chain, and many similar possibilities could move deprived areas towards the zero-hunger goal.
- Tech #1: Two users with two devices (hi-res camera+mobile phone, admin device);
- Tech #2: CPaaS, communication platform as a service: Twilio (or Telstra);
- Tech #3: IBM cloud. Open Node-Red flow editor (on node.js) to communicate with IBM CPDaaS (Cloud Pak for Data as a Service), a private cloud solution.
The proposed architecture
A water-quality dashboard gives one possible solution. Data is captured through both hi-res and mobile phone cameras. Images and other messages are exchanged through a gateway: Telstra’s in Australia or Twilio elsewhere in the world.
An IBM backend in the cloud uses Node-Red event-driven management to feed a machine learning model on IBM CPDaaS. Relevant information is extracted from data and sent back to the administrator’s console.
Improved access to nutritious food in local communities, especially those suffering from acute hunger; cooperative systems can be digitized and enhanced.
By aggregating and analyzing market, transportation, horticultural, and environmental data, co-ops can optimize productivity, reduce overheads, and decrease volatility in the supply chain of the farming communities.
The Clean Water Challenge
Well over 2 billion people around the world do not have safely managed drinking-water services, 4.2 billion people do not have safely managed sanitation services, and 3 billion people lack basic handwashing facilities (according to the World Health Organization).
These services are also critical in preventing the spread of many diseases, COVID-19 among them. Even in areas that have these services, there are vast inequalities in the accessibility, availability, and quality of services.
From intelligent solutions for small farmers to recycling showers, technology can make a significant impact on the availability of water and its consumption. IBM provides various technologies such as IoT, Watson AI services, and blockchain.
IBM Water Management can be used as a Service platform to monitor water resources in real time. Through this cloud-based platform, IBM is helping to improve the management of water resources.
Three basic IBM technologies should be part of your investigation for the Clean Water Challenge:
- Tech #1: One user, the Community Leader.
- Tech #2: The IBM Watson cloud chatbot.
- Tech #3: The AI recommendation engine.
The proposed architecture
Reflecting an expression familiar to those in the development arena, we can call this project Water Management as a Service. There are many ways such a project could help to resolve this global issue; some of these are listed below:
- creation of a database and interactive map to help locate and maintain water sources across countries and regions:
- collecting water usage, breakage, and repair data from boreholes monitored by SweetSense;
- delivering tickets to repair and maintenance teams who can respond to failures and repair the boreholes.
To encourage optimal water choices by consumers and local governments, and to incentivize water sustainability, IBM proposes a specific project: devising and implementing an API for water data collection and dissemination. With an API, you could create a centralized way to:
- query geolocations of sustainable water sources;
- simplify coordination and funding for water construction projects;
- explore educational tools to support water sustainability and clean water access;
- enable transparent water usage and cleanliness results, and site-to-site comparison;
- access plain language case studies and legislation.
You and your team can create and realize your idea. IBM engineers have thought about this challenge, and have listed software resources and provided architectures for some viable paths to the final solution.
Tier work has provided several examples that you and your team could use to jump-start your ideas, either partially or totally, or you and your team can also skip all the suggested ideas and start from scratch!
The following ideas are examples only, so feel free to brainstorm with your team to come up with original ideas and solutions.
IBM has provided teams with a significant number of hints for developing a new project. The complete list of ideas can be found at this address. Let’s take a look at some of the examples here, just for fun!
The Production Challenge
The current use of natural resources is unsustainable. The global material footprint rose nearly 18 percent – from 73 billion metric tons in 2010 to 85.9 billion metric tons – in 2017. These data points come from a UN report, that also lists 17 goals to be achieved.
Goal 12, on Sustainable Development, aims to achieve economic growth and sustainable development, while reducing our ecological footprint by changing the way we produce and consume goods and resources.
Technology can help in many ways, from recommendations about energy efficiency to highlighting the carbon footprint of online purchases. The goal is to take into account all phases of resource use in order to do more and better with less.
The Production Challenge asks for many pieces of technology to be integrated with one solution.
- Tech #1: Containers management through Kubernetes orchestration
- Tech #2: Use of Fastify to increase responsiveness, for happy users and servers
- Tech #3: IBM Watson Discovery to scan market data
- Tech #4: IBM Cloudant-based approach to data storage.
The proposed architecture
- The user interacts with a web application for the marketplace.
- The React app communicates with the back-end APIs.
- The Fastify back end handles data requested by the web app and exposes specific public endpoints for material market data through a RESTful API.
- The back end queries Watson Discovery for updated information on materials.
- Discovery manages a collection of recycled and non-recycled material information, such as average prices, carbon impact, and quality. Discovery enriches the data with natural language processing so that it can be more easily indexed.
- Discovery crawls public websites for updates on current material information.
- The back end stores and retrieves information on material provided by users in an IBM Cloudant NoSQL database.
- A Kubernetes cluster is used for a scalable, flexible, modern containerized environment.
- New Relic provides Full-Stack Observability and monitoring within the Kubernetes environment.
One of the more pressing challenges in addressing waste and shifting to a more circular economy is the increasing complexity of products. Electronics are getting smaller and more sophisticated, making recovery and reuse of materials challenging.
Product designers should consider how products can be created with end-of-life in mind, by reducing the number of components, for example. Communities could benefit from developing infrastructure, policies, and systems to support repair, reuse, and recycling.
To encourage this change, IBM proposes creating a transparent and trustworthy platform for trading resources and knowledge, as well as providing access to a community of experts.
This platform will enable producers and consumers to build and buy products in a sustainable way for our society by reducing waste, increasing the use of recycled materials, and improving the overall repairability of products.
The platform would support both the producer/manufacturer and the raw material supplier.
A producer or a manufacturer can find and compare the price, quality, and carbon impact of recycled materials while learning about best practices for recyclable processing through a trustworthy, real-time trading platform.
A recycled material supplier can sell recycled resources directly to producers through a marketplace at competitive rates.
Let’s get started in four easy steps!
The participation process is easy and straightforward. Simply by joining our community, you gain easy access to information, resources, and all the latest announcements.
Step 1: Join the community
By joining the community, you will be registered for the Global Challenge and will receive:
- A free IBM Cloud account with $200 in credit, allowing you to build your skills and kick-start your solution;
- Call for Code communications – receive the latest announcements, events, resources, and more;
- Access to a dedicated Slack workspace with tips from Call for Code mentors to help accelerate app development.
Step 2: Access the resources
Learn the ways in which climate change impacts our world, and get the resources you need to fight back. Find starter kits with code patterns, expert videos, and tutorials to build your idea.
Step 3: Get connected
Whether you want to find teammates, meet experts, ask questions, or meet another tech to find good developers from around the world, there’s a community for you. Be sure to join the Call for Code Slack channel to get access to mentors and receive the latest updates.
Step 4: Submit your solution
When you’re ready to submit your open-source solution, visit the submission page to:
- Provide a link to a public source code repository on GitHub;
- Include a 3-minute demo video;
- Submit your solution.
Your solution is officially in the running for a chance to win $200,000 and support in setting up your team as a startup.
Submissions are open now, and close in three months, on July 31st, 2021. The review process will last until November 2021, when the winners will be announced.
Should you have any further questions, you can access the 2021 Global Challenge FAQ.
The world’s infrastructure needs a global process of reengineering to keep our planet – and the human race – alive.
IBM’s Call for Code Global Challenge 2021 is a great way to make a contribution to improving Earth’s health, and the health and wealth of developers too! You can make a difference at a planetary level. Don’t wait: Join the IBM Call for Code Global Challenge 2021 NOW!