IBM, UN and Linux Foundation tackle climate crisis in 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge

The move comes as 77% of developers and first responders say climate change is the single most pressing issue facing their generation, according to an IBM global survey.

For its 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge, IBM has partnered with United Nations Human Rights and the Linux Foundation to invite software developers and innovators worldwide to help fight climate change with open source powered technology

"IBM has a long history of taking on the world's biggest challenges and we cannot think of a greater one today than climate change ," said IBM's Daniel Krook, chief technology officer for IBM's Call for Code.
 
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"We've stated for more than a decade that climate change is a serious concern that warrants meaningful action on a global basis to stabilize the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases," Krook said. "All sectors of society, the economy and governments worldwide must participate in solutions to address climate change."

Global reality check

Coinciding with its 75th anniversary, the United Nations issued a "global reality check" to launch a "global conversation" on the world's most pressing issues, such as climate change.

Solutions from open source software

Now in its third year, the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge "encourages and fosters the creation of practical applications built on open source software including Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Cloud, IBM Watson, IBM Blockchain, and data from The Weather Company," according to the announcement, made from Geneva.

 "The goal is to employ technology in new ways that can make an immediate and lasting humanitarian impact in communities around the world," the announcement stated.
 
"Climate change is real," Krook said, "and that is why we support a responsible plan to tax carbon emissions, why we continue to support the Paris Agreement , and are on track as a company to reduce emissions associated with our consumption of energy consistent with what scientists say is needed."

Developer revelations

A recent global IBM study of more than 3,000 developers worldwide, conducted by Morning Consult, revealed:

  • 83% agree developers must consider the environmental impact and sustainability of their technology respondents

  • 42% of respondents said they felt climate change is the most pressing issues facing humanity today, and the same percentage agree not enough is being done to combat climate change

  • 39% think technology is certain to help solve climate change    

  • 78% of first responders and developers agree with the statement Climate change is the single most pressing issue facing my generation.  Only 5% stated they strongly disagree.

  • US respondents were the highest percentage (9%) citing they "strongly disagree" climate change was the single most pressing issue facing their generation

  • Half or more than half of respondents from Columbia (59%), India (56%), Spain (51%) and China (50%) strongly agree climate change is the single most pressing issue

  • 72% agree that advances in mobile/5G/edge computing will be valuable in developing solutions to address climate change

Making global changes

In addition to answering queries on how important an issue climate change is, respondents were asked to look at climate change from a more global perspective, how it might be solved, how it affects the world at large, and their aspirations to save the environment.  Here are their thoughts:

  • 79% of respondents agree that climate change is something that can be reduced or combated with technology    

  • 87% of respondents feel it is important that a potential employer has taken action on climate change

  • 73% of respondents said it is very important that action is taken on sustainable and clean water

  • Three quarters of respondents agree that the open source community can help scale climate change solutions to communities in need

  • 79% of respondents agree that most people want to do something to help combat climate change, but don't know where to start

  • 61% respondents say someone they know or love has been impacted by a natural disaster

  • More than half (54%) said they were very likely to support creating solutions for sustainable and clean water

  • 84% of climate activists agree most people want to do something to combat climate change, but don't know where to start

  • Forests were seen as the area most respondents wanted to create solutions for in nearly every country, save for India (urban areas), Egypt (drought-prone areas) and Spain (oceans)

The survey is the result of consultation between  more than 3,000 developers, first responders and social activists across China, Columbia, Egypt, India, Japan, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Employers take note

A company taking action on climate change was important to those polled, 87%, and 54% deemed it "very important," while 84% agree it is important companies operate sustainably and take a stand on environmental issues, with 52% strongly agreeing.

Three-quarters of respondents agree they'd be more likely to contribute to a project developing solutions to climate change if their employer let them work on it during company time.

"But it's not just the generation of great new ideas that we're want to see, we want to ensure that they can be incubated and supported as open source projects with a global community of contributors through the Code and Response initiative," Krook said.

2019 winner: Prometo

More than 180,000 developers from 165 countries participated in last year's Call for Code in which they created more than 5,000 applications. focused on natural disaster preparedness and relief.  The 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 solution has been developed further through IBM's Code and Response program and has just completed its first wildfire field test during a controlled burn with the Grups de Reforç d'Actuacions Forestals (GRAF) and the Grup d'Emergències Mèdiques (GEM) dels Bombers de la Generalitat de Catalunya near Barcelona, Spain. 

Prometeo was developed by a veteran firefighter, an emergency-medical nurse, and three developers. The Prometeo hardware-software solution is based on multiple IBM Cloud services. 

Opens World Water Day

This year's challenge will open for submissions on World Water Day, March 22, 2020.

"For Call for Code," Krook said, IBM wants to "bring together a unique ecosystem of diverse experts from emergency response, open source, and humanitarian communities," including:

  •       United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
  •       United Nations Human Rights Office
  •       Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative University
  •       AT&T
  •       FirstNet Authority
  •       The Linux Foundation
  •       Consumer Technology Association Foundation
  •       Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies

"Developers will have a crucial role in our response to the climate emergency," said Mami Mizutori, special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for disaster risk reduction, in a release. 

"Climate change is the most critical issue of our time, with a multitude of localized contributing factors and cascading effects that cannot be solved by a single organization. We need a global network to fight this together."

Krook said, "It's not just the generation of great new ideas that we're want to see, we want to ensure that they can be incubated and supported as open source projects with a global community of contributors through the Code and Response initiative."

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Image: IBM Call to Code