Facebook, Slack and Twitter among tech companies joining WHO to launch COVID-19 hackathon

The goal is to develop software to help solve some of the problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Proposals are being considered this week as part of a global hackathon whose mission is to develop software to manage the COVID-19 outbreak. The online #BuildforCOVID19 Global Online Hackathon is being spearheaded by the World Health Organization and leading tech companies including Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, WeChat, and Slack.

The hackathon "is an opportunity for developers to build software solutions that drive social impact, with the aim of tackling some of the challenges related to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic," the group wrote.

Each participating company has committed resources for developers who apply. The site has received close to 20,000 submissions. Winning proposals will be announced on Friday, April 10.

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The group developed a list of the key challenges and areas in which technology can play a role. They include health, vulnerable populations, businesses, community, education, and entertainment. 

"With the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic, governments have issued guidance for members of the community to practice social distancing, while companies have enforced work from home policies in an effort to flatten the curve of viral infections across the population," the group said. "Given the isolation currently being experienced within communities right now, we want to create an online space where developers could ideate, experiment and build software solutions to help address this crisis."

In an effort to publicize the online hackathon, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg highlighted it in a Facebook post. He noted that hackathons are an integral part of the social media company's history and an important way new ideas and projects are born.
"Features like Blood Donations and Crisis Response were first built during hackathons and are now used by millions of people worldwide," Zuckerberg said. "I'm hopeful that some useful prototypes and ideas will come out of this one as well."

Here is the full list of organizations that are participating in the hackathon:

Corporates

AWS
Cognizant
Facebook
Giphy
Microsoft
Pinterest
Slack
Salesforce
TikTok
Twilio
Twitter
WeChat

Venture Ecosystem 

Neo Fund
Slow Ventures
South Park Commons
8VC

Student Groups

Congressional Apps Challenge
Hack Club

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Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto