One of the most interesting corporate responsibility efforts is IBM’s Call for Code Global effort. Started back in 2018 and initially focused on disaster response and preparedness, it pulls together open source programmers from all over the world to work on targeted problems. This globe-spanning collection of resources includes 3,000 developers across countries like China, Columbia, Egypt, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The 2019 effort had over 180,000 participants from 165 nations, and they created 5,000 applications focused on preparing for and mitigating disasters. Two applications won the challenge.
Call for Code 2019 Global Winners
Project Owl was a fascinating instant mesh network powered by the sun to be used in disaster areas to coordinate first responders and relief efforts until a more permanent communications platform can be deployed. Communications are critical in areas that have been damaged by a disaster to get to people in need and to avoid known problems like road outages, live electrical wires, or other hazards. Being able to set up a network quickly helps focus the resources on saving lives, likely resulting in significant additional lives saved.
The other program is called Prometeo, and it is an activity monitor on steroids. Designed specifically for firefighters and supported through IBM’s Code and Response Initiative, it provides real-time information on the health of each firefighter that is at risk. This tool helps make the firefighters feel safer. Often, in the smoke, they can get disorientated and lost. When this happens, their life expectancy can fall because they are unable to call for help if trapped or injured. This tool helps those that keep us safe, and it has potentially broad applications with police, military, EMTs, and others who are put at risk during a disaster to keep us safe.
It is interesting to note, however, that, when asked, these first responders indicated that the real focus of the effort should be on global climate change since that is considered to be the cause of the increasing number of disasters these first responders have to deal with. The fires in California and Australia exemplify the need to get to the cause of the problem before large portions of the world become uninhabitable. Given a lot of the immigrants marching to the US are fleeing climate change, addressing that problem would have huge human rights implications as well.
Call for Code 2020 Challenge: Global Warming
As noted, the Call for Code 2020 Challenge is addressing Global Warming this year. This effort coincides with the 75th Anniversary for the United Nations and leverages that organization to help drive change. The UN is demanding a global reality check and has launched the biggest-ever global effort to understand and deal with this critical existential threat to the human race.
It is interesting to note that not only did 77% of the first responders surveyed indicate global warming was what the Call for Code Global Challenge should focus on, but 79% felt that technology could effectively combat this problem and a whopping 87% of respondents felt strongly that prospective employers should actively join the fight. In this tight job market, Millennials have also indicated they will favor employers who aggressively focus on world issues like global climate change.
IBM’s global footprint and over a century of existence make the company ideal to lead this fight. IBM executives are uniquely trained to think strategically and focus on long term goals, which is why the firm leads in quantum research and enterprise-grade AI with IBM Watson. The firm can also pivot, which is why they recently moved into third place with their cloud technology.
One of the most critical problems facing the world is global climate change. IBM’s corporate responsibility effort has recently stepped up to address this problem with its massive Call for Code Global challenge, and, in concert with the UN, they are creating a solution using worldwide resources to address this worldwide threat. As the world pivots to address global climate change, leading companies need to enter the fight aggressively. IBM has chosen to step up and be counted; fortunately, they won’t be standing alone.