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Together with Chelsea Clinton, Bob Lord announces the top three solutions that have the potential to help mitigate the devastating impact of COVID-19.


Imagine you’re driving to the local grocery store to pick up necessities for your family during the COVID-19 pandemic. As soon as you arrive in the parking lot, you notice the line to enter the store is endless. People are huddled closely together waiting to enter, barely adhering to the social distancing guidelines issued by the government. Now, imagine avoiding the line to enter the store, saving your space within a virtual queue, and waiting in the comfort of your own vehicle — all with the click of a button – social distance intact.

We are facing unprecedented challenges and believe that emerging technology can help solve such problems across the globe. We launched the Call for Code Global Challenge to take on society’s most pressing issues. Since 2018, this movement has grown to over 300,000 developers and problem solvers across 168 countries who have answered the call. While we originally focused this year’s competition on addressing climate change, we quickly recognized the opportunity to dedicate the ingenuity of this developer community to respond to COVID-19 as well. These are two pressing issues that have the power to compromise our health, our planet, and our survival. We recognized the urgency to act, so we also created an accelerated timeline for the Call for Code COVID-19 track. Today, we’re excited to share three outstanding solutions, like Safe Queue, which addresses the scenario mentioned above, that have the potential to change the way we react to the pandemic.

Together with Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation, today I announced the top three solutions that have the potential to help mitigate the devastating impact of COVID-19:

Are you Well?: The Are You Well? app, created by a team from Altran in India, is designed to be a comprehensive medical assistance system that could reduce the stress on over-taxed medical systems. A mobile app would help individuals evaluate their symptoms, aided by IBM® Watson™ Assistant. The solution would then leverage a global dashboard that assigns cases a high, medium, or low level of risk based on thresholds set by healthcare providers, and connect them with medical professionals who could use the data to prioritize cases and offer care in a safer manner.

CovidImpact: CovidImpact was created by a global team that came together at the University of British Columbia, hailing from Canada, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, and Mexico. The solution aims to reduce the financial impact of COVID-19 on small businesses. A predictive assessment tool, created with IBM Watson Tone Analyzer linguistic analysis and IBM’s ILOG CPLEX rules engine for decision making, could forecast businesses’ financial risk levels. CovidImpact offers a curated list of federal resources for small businesses, and a real-time news feed of sentiment analysis-evaluated articles. The solution also offers an economic impact heatmap that visualizes where the need is the greatest, which can help officials direct business aid to specific regions or industries.

Safe Queue: Safe Queue, created by a single developer in Los Angeles, is a community-driven mobile app that is intended to replace physical lines at shopping centers, small businesses, and polling places with on-demand virtual lines, to enable a safer way to manage entry during COVID-19. Safe Queue uses GPS location data to create a virtual queue of those within 1000 feet of a location, allowing employees to control the queue digitally, and validating entry with a randomly generated QR code for each customer. This solution builds on IBM Cloud Foundry for web app hosting, HERE technologies for geolocation, and IBM Cloudant to store data. The developer grabbed the Call for Code Community Cooperation starter kit and ran from there.

Medical professionals, first responders, and essential workers are rising to the challenges we’re faced with today and are leading the way. IBM and David Clark Cause have led a broad ecosystem including the Linux Foundation, UNHR, Verizon, Persistent Systems, Arrow Electronics, Ingram Micro, Cognizant, ICBC, Altran, and celebrities to do our part. President Bill Clinton announced our partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative University for the second year, with a dedicated University Edition within Call for Code. Even Lady Gaga recognized the scope and urgency of the issues we’re facing and urged “tech rock stars” to lend their time and talent to the cause. In fact, the developer who created Safe Queue joined Call for Code after seeing her shout-out on a local broadcast.

The response for the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge has been tremendous. So, we are honored that some of the most eminent leaders in human rights, disaster risk reduction, business, and technology are serving as judges to decide the winners, including President Clinton, Mark Cuban, Mami Mizutori of United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, and Laurent Sauveur of United Nations Human Rights.

We are excited to work quickly in partnership with the Linux Foundation, Anthem, and these teams to get their innovations deployed in communities where they’re needed most to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19. Anthem will work closely as an active partner with Altran’s “Are You Well?” team to explore how their idea could scale on the Anthem digital platform and save millions of lives. Through Code and Response, we bring open source solutions to life through real-world deployments to help first responders in their efforts to save lives. In the past 18 months, this has included deployments of Project Owl and DroneAid in hurricane-hit Puerto Rico, and Prometeo in areas of Spain prone to wildfires.

There is still an opportunity to join the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge. Register and get all the resources you need, including exclusive access to a new disease tracker API from The Weather Company. We’ll continue to accept submissions for both climate change and COVID-19 through July 31, 2020, and plan to announce our global challenge winners in October.

I can’t wait to see what happens next… and to safely wait for groceries in a virtual queue sometime soon!