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Call to open source developers to help fight climate change

By Marilyn de Villiers
Johannesburg, 09 Mar 2020

Software developers and innovators across the globe can use open source-powered technology to fight climate change, the single most pressing issue facing the world today.

That’s the view of the organisers and sponsors of the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge

A five-year, $30 million global initiative, Call for Code was created two years ago by the David Clark Cause in partnership with IBM to encourage developers to use their skills and mastery of the latest technologies, and to create new ones, to develop practical open source applications that will drive positive and long-lasting change across the world.

The focus of this year’s challenge, which is being undertaken in partnership with the Linux Foundation and United Nations Human Rights, is in line with the United Nations’ call to mark its 75 anniversary with a “global reality check” that will address the world’s most pressing issues, including climate change.

“By inspiring and empowering developers around the world to help with this global threat, Call for Code can generate real impact," said David Clark, Creator of Call for Code and CEO of David Clark Cause.

Over three quarters (77%) of the more than 3 000 developers, first responders and social activists who participated in a recent global IBM survey agreed that climate change was “the single most pressing issue facing my generation”; and 79% believed that climate change is something that can be reduced or combated with technology.

In addition, around 75% of respondents agreed that the open source community could help scale climate change solutions to communities in need.

“Heeding the UN's rallying cry to help build the future we want, IBM is joining forces with key UN agencies and world leaders to help tackle the climate crisis,” IBM said in a statement announcing the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge.

Over 180 000 participants from 165 countries took part in the 2019 Call for Code, creating more than 5 000 applications focused on natural disaster preparedness and relief.

Last year's Call for Code Global Challenge winning team, Prometeo, created a wearable evice 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, which was developed by a team consisting of a veteran firefighter, an emergency medical nurse, and three developers, recently completed its first wildfire field test during a controlled burn in Spain.

"Over the past two years through Call for Code, UNDRR (United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction) has seen the potential for developers to tackle major societal challenges, and 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 DRR.

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

Submissions for the 2020 challenge open on World Water Day on March 22. Additional details are available here