As part of its expanded 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge focusing on COVID-19, IBM on Tuesday announced three initial top efforts from developers. In a blog post, Bob Lord, SVP of cognitive applications, blockchain, and ecosystems, IBM, noted the solutions “have the potential to change the way we react to the pandemic.”

In March, IBM challenged developers to fight COVID-19 by saying: “Answer the call. Build solutions that fight back.”

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IBM is live streaming the top initial solutions starting at 3 p.m. ET May 5, with Lord joined by Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, introducing the teams at the IBM Think Virtual Conference. Here is IBM’s description of the efforts:

Safe Queue
Image: IBM

Safe Queue was created by a single developer in Los Angeles, who was inspired to join Call for Code after seeing Lady Gaga’s video about the global challenge on the local news. Safe Queue is an app to help tackle those long lines we’ve all seen during COVID-19 at shopping centers, small businesses, and even polling places. The app replaces physical lines with on-demand virtual lines, creating a safer way to manage entry during COVID-19. The developer used one of our starter kits–the Call for Code Community Cooperation starter kit–to create this solution, as well as IBM Cloud Foundry for web app hosting, HERE technologies for geolocation, and IBM Cloudant to store data.

Image: IBM

CovidImpact is a solution to help small businesses during this uncertain time. It was created by a global team that came together at the University of British Columbia, hailing from Canada, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, and Mexico. Their solution reduces the financial impact of COVID-19 on small businesses, by keeping them updated on the latest relevant news and available grants. CovidImpact uses IBM Watson Tone Analyzer linguistic analysis and other technologies to help forecast businesses’ financial risk.

Are You Well?
Image: IBM

Are You Well? was created by a team from Altran in India and will help reduce the strain on busy healthcare systems. The app helps people evaluate their symptoms, with the help of IBM Watson Assistant. A global dashboard assigns cases a high, medium, or low level of risk based on thresholds set by healthcare providers. The solution then connects people with medical professionals who use the data to prioritize cases and offer care in a safer manner.

In his blog post, Lord wrote, “We are excited to work quickly in partnership with the Linux Foundation, Anthem, and these teams to get their innovations deployed in communities where they’re needed most to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19.”

The company put out its 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge in February, with the United Nations Human Rights and the Linux Foundation to tackle climate change. In March, IBM expanded the challenge, noting: “In a very short period of time, COVID-19 has brought modern life to a screeching halt, disrupting our healthcare, education, and economic systems. But we can fight back–with technology.”

IBM is accepting submissions for both climate change and COVID-19 through July 31, and plans to announce the global challenge winners in October. The company said it is offering participants exclusive access to a new disease tracker API from The Weather Company.

Since 2018, IBM said, this movement has grown to over 300,000 developers and problem solvers across 168 countries who have answered the call. Last year’s winning team, Prometeo, created a wearable device that measures carbon monoxide, smoke concentration, humidity, and temperature to monitor firefighter safety in real time as well as to help improve their health outcomes in the long term.

The company said through Code and Response, it brings open source solutions to life through real-world deployments to help first responders in their efforts to save lives. In the past 18 months, this has included deployments of Project Owl and DroneAid in hurricane-hit Puerto Rico, and Prometeo in areas of Spain prone to wildfires, IBM said.

In his post, Lord wrote: “Medical professionals, first responders, and essential workers are rising to the challenges we’re faced with today and are leading the way. IBM and David Clark Cause have led a broad ecosystem including the Linux Foundation, UNHR, Verizon, Persistent Systems, Arrow Electronics, Ingram Micro, Cognizant, ICBC, Altran, and celebrities to do our part. President Bill Clinton announced our partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative University for the second year, with a dedicated University Edition within Call for Code.”

“Even Lady Gaga recognized the scope and urgency of the issues we’re facing and urged “tech rock stars” to lend their time and talent to the cause,” he added. “In fact, the developer who created Safe Queue joined Call for Code after seeing her shout-out on a local broadcast.”

Image: IBM