Ensuring equal human rights for vulnerable populations
Konstantinos Sofikitis talks about his experience at the inaugural event, Call for Code Geneva.
Last week, the inaugural event for Call for Code Geneva was hosted by the United Nations Humans Rights Office. At this event, four challenges were tackled, all related to natural disasters.
In this blog series, I interviewed four participants to share their first hand experiences. Read my previous interviews with Julian van Velzen, Rabia Mahmood, and Enid Ibrahimovic. In this blog, I interview Konstantinos Sofikitis, an Engineer of Informatics and Telecommunication.
Let’s start with an introduction. Please introduce yourself.
“My name is Konstantinos. I’m from Greece and I work for OTE as an Engineer of Informatics and Telecommunication. Currently, I work on an international project for Deutsche Telekom called ‘voicification’ where we are working with speech-to-text. The Greek language is very difficult to translate in commands. For example, asking a chatbot ‘What’s the weather’ might result in the random command ‘Open a web page.’ We’re working on improving that customer experience.
“I’m also involved in a project for elderly people and people with Alzheimer’s Disease, using IoT and smart homes. With sensors in their homes, we can follow all movements and activities. For example, a reminder can be given when someone forgets to turn off the oven or to close a door.”
Why did you decide to join the Call for Code hackathon in Geneva?
“As you can see, I find it important to work on solutions to make life a little bit easier. In this hackathon, I saw the potential to improve people’s lives with the ideas we come up with.”
Call for Code is all about preparing for natural disasters. Is there a natural disaster that impacted you or people close to you?
“Last year in June, Greece suffered from forest fires. Most impacted was Mati, a region in the east of Attica, about 30 kilometers from Athens. There is nothing left there – no electricity, phone, and all the networks are completely destroyed. Many people left the area. I want to help not only my country, but all around the world to prevent people from getting into danger and enhance the feeling of security. And technology can help with this by providing all the necessary tools. So we can predict when there’s a high chance of an earthquake, flood, forest fire, etc.”
Humanitarian Protection in Times of Disaster is the challenge you worked. Can you talk about what it entailed?
“The challenge we worked on focuses on ensuring that vulnerable people are given equal human rights by assurance of equal access to assistance following a disaster. The world’s most vulnerable populations are those that suffer the greatest in times of natural disasters.”
How can you help vulnerable persons when there’s a crisis?
“We developed a mobile-first, message-oriented system to help identify individuals with limited mobility and provide them with real time information about a disaster. This helps them to make an informed choice about evacuation and find loved ones at a shelter. Our application also helps to quickly prioritize help to those who need it most.”
What are your next steps?
“In the coming weeks we are going to an event to exchange innovative ideas in Budapest, where we will work together with people with different backgrounds (developers, solution architects, etc.) and cultures, in order to create a prototype of the idea that we created in Geneva.”
You’re very enthusiastic about participating in Call for Code. Any advice for others who are still thinking about joining?
“It’s a great opportunity to use what you have already learned and bring this into practice for a good cause. For me, I used my knowledge of voicification to help solve the challenge of Humanitarian Protection in Times of Disaster.”
Would you like to know more about the challenge of Konstantinos’ team? Visit the solution starter kit: https://developer.ibm.com/callforcode/starters/human/