IBM names regional finalists in Call for Code 2020 competition

This year's competition focused on combatting climate change and COVID-19, with coders from around the globe vying to solve problems of crisis communication, remote learning, and community support.

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Image: IBM

IBM's annual competition for developers, Call for Code, has released its list of regional finalists for 2020. This year's competition focused on two themes: Climate change and COVID-19.

Now in its third year, Call for Code has drawn over 400,000 developers from 179 countries since it started. The competition focused on helping victims of natural disasters in both 2018 and 2019: 2018's winner was Project OWL, an emergency meshnet platform, and in 2019 Prometeo, an AI-powered real-time health monitoring platform for firefighters, won IBM's support for its project.

"The everyday effects of climate change and especially COVID-19 have revealed the limits of the systems we take for granted. That's why Call for Code is focused on these two unprecedented challenges in 2020," said IBM GM and chief developer advocate WIllie Tejada.

SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (TechRepublic Premium)

To prepare participants for this year's competition, IBM worked with experts and community leaders to develop starter kits for developers looking to tackle one of three themes: Crisis communication, remote education, and community cooperation. The kits included descriptions of the solutions, sample code, diagrams, and reference materials. 

Of all the contestants entering this year, IBM pared the pool down to a short list from Asia Pacific, Europe, Greater China, Japan, Latin America, the Mid-East and Africa, and North America.  

The full list of finalists announced today will go on to compete for the top prize, with the winner being announced in a live broadcast on Oct. 13, 2020, at 7:30 pm, ET.

SEE: Big data's role in COVID-19 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Tejada published a blog post announcing the full finalist list, and these five projects are just some examples from this year's batch:

Prudence (Asia Pacific): Designed for front-line healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus, Prudence is an AI-driven app that "enables workers to monitor their mental health, find activities to release stress, get support immediately via a chabot, and find a therapist for follow-up." Prudence also generates summaries for team leaders so they can proactively manage the health of their front-line workers.

The Hero Loop (Europe): This web app uses AI to match volunteers to organizations looking for help from people like them. Hero Loop matches based on location, skills, and availability and protects the identity of its users using blockchain, machine learning, and IBM products.

Climate for NINJA (Japan): NINJA is an air-conditioning efficiency API that tracks "air-conditioning data, visualize the trend of room temperature versus outdoor temperature, and recommend when the air-conditioner AC should stop running to optimize efficiency." 

LikeBee (Latin America): Paired with a smart recycling bin, LikeBee's app tracks how much effort users put into recycling plastics, and then offers coupons that can be used at stores in the LikeBee network.

SMS Based Eschool Platform (Mid-East and Africa): In many parts of Africa, the developers of this platform said, there are no online learning platforms, and most people don't own smartphones. SMS Based Eschool Platform uses existing SMS technologies to allow students to submit and receive assignments, and even download full textbooks one SMS message at a time. 

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