In times of crisis, innovations skyrocket
The 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge wants to launch your solution into the world
Throughout history, times of crisis have acted as an impetus for innovation. From the invention of the ambulance in Spain during the Middle Ages to the creation of duct tape in WWII to help soldiers repair equipment in a pinch, necessity has proved a powerful incubator for nimble, creative solutions.
During the lockdown much of the world now faces because of the COVID-19 pandemic, entrepreneurs, medical experts, and developers are working around the clock toward solutions to better humankind. Much like that humble roll of duct tape in your junk drawer, many of these solutions will prove their usefulness long after life resumes a new normal.
Artificial Intelligence: Challenge that adapts to the moment
Spurred by innovation, the Call for Code initiative has seen a multitude of life-changing ideas evolve and take on new purposes since its launch in 2018. Created by David Clark Cause with Founding Partner IBM, the initiative inspires developers around the world to address the biggest needs in their communities, from climate change to natural disasters. To date, the challenge has attracted more than 300,000 participants.
Now in its third year, with the emergence of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Call for Code challenge quickly pivoted to ask developers to use the same cloud platform and open source building blocks around artificial intelligence and Internet of Things to address the societal impact of this pandemic. As society now moves towards a slow return to normalcy and an easing of restrictions in locales around the world, the ideas coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to serve the greater good.
Artificial Intelligence: Thinking outside the lines
In the face of long lines at supermarkets and big-box stores creating issues around social distancing, entrepreneur and technologist David Chura developed Safe Queue, a new way to stand in line.
Instead of rudimentary Xs marking spots on the ground, and in-person queueing, the app lets you queue from your phone, sending push notifications and a QR code when it’s your turn. It essentially holds your place while you wait in a safe spot like your car.
See the app in action here:
While the app was developed to help us deal with COVID-19, for the long run, it has far-reaching potential uses, from managing voting stations to queuing for a rollercoaster at theme parks. Given that the average human spends 6 months of their lives queuing, this app has considerable potential to change many aspects of our lives.
Artificial Intelligence: Reducing power consumption for a healthier planet
Spending more time in your home because of COVID-19 might have created an uptick in your energy bill, but oversights such as leaving unused appliances plugged in can also contribute to high bills. (Some needy devices even suck power when they’re off.)
Enter ConserveE, an app aimed at energy conservation developed by a group of students at San José State University (SJSU). Among its features, ConserveE assesses roof layouts for solar panels and provides savings estimates based on sunlight averages. You can also snap a pic of your bill and have IBM Watson artificial intelligence analyze it.
After stay-at-home orders lift, this energy-saving app can continue to help fight climate change.
Artificial Intelligence: Jamming out with AI
In quarantine, music has bridged the distance between us, whether through balcony serenades or celebrity charity concerts. Choirless is an app that taps into the benefits of singing as a group, ranging from supporting mental health to strengthening your respiratory system.
However, singing over video communication platforms is often glitchy with poor sound quality. Instead of streaming a cacophony, Choirless allows individuals to sing or play a part then upload it. IBM Watson then mixes and assembles it into a video wall shared with choir members and beyond.
For musicians going forward, Choirless will enable seamless collaboration around schedules and time zones — with a little help from DJ Watson.
Artificial Intelligence: Connecting communities
During Hurricane Maria, Pedro Cruz from Puerto Rico couldn’t reach his grandmother by car due to extreme flooding in the area. His solution?