WHO, TikTok, Facebook, Microsoft teamed up to launch coronavirus hackathon

The World Health Organization (WHO) has teamed up with tech giants such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter to organize a hackathon to promote the development of software solutions that address challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic. Online hackathon provider Devpost is hosting the initiative.

The name of this hackathon will be COVID-19 Global Hackathon (#BuildforCOVID19) and it will be an online event. Interested developers can register on the DevPost hackathon registry, and also a registration page created by the Hack Club. The hackathon organizers will announce the top projects on April 3.

Participants can build any technology of their choice, but the World Health Organization worked with Devpost to provide some areas where help is needed the most.

These include focusing on health initiatives, like technologies that can help support medical workers or scale telemedicine, help vulnerable populations like the elderly stay safe, working on remote learning environments that teachers and schools can use, and promoting social connections as people remain socially isolated.

Devpost has suggested seven key themes relating to how software can combat the effects of the virus – health, vulnerable populations, businesses, community, education, and entertainment.

  1. Health: Address and scale a range of health initiatives, including preventative/hygiene behaviors (especially for at-risk countries and populations), supporting frontline health workers, scaling telemedicine, contact tracing/containment strategies, treatment, and diagnosis development.
  2. Vulnerable Populations: The set of problems facing the elderly and the immuno-compromised, such as access to meals and groceries, and supporting those who are losing jobs and income.
  3. Businesses: The set of problems that businesses are facing to stay afloat, collaborate effectively and move parts of their business online.
  4. Community: Promoting connection to friends, family, and neighbors to combat social isolation and the digitizing of public services for local governments.
  5. Education: Alternative learning environments & tools for students, teachers, & school systems.
  6. Entertainment: Alternatives to traditional forms of entertainment that can keep the talent and audiences safe and healthy.
  7. Other: The above themes are just suggestions. Feel empowered to get creative!

‘We’re encouraging you – innovators around the world to #BuildforCOVID19 using technologies of your choice across a range of suggested themes and challenges areas,’ Devpost says on its site.

‘Given the isolation currently being experienced within communities right now, we want to create an online space where developers could ideate, experiment and build software solutions to help address this crisis.’

Devpost said the online event will seek to understand challenges that technology can address, such as the need for accurate disease prevention information, in ‘formats that resonate’.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed in a blog post on Tuesday night that engineers from his company will be participating. As it relates to the hackathon, Facebook is also providing educational materials and Facebook Live tutorials to developers looking to participate in the hackathon.

‘A lot of engineers at Facebook and at companies and universities around the world are asking how they can get more involved in the fight against COVID-19,’ he said.

‘Hackathons have always been an important part of how we come up with new ideas & projects at Facebook features like Blood Donations and Crisis Response was first built during hackathons & are now used by millions of people. ‘I’m hopeful that some useful prototypes and ideas will come out of this one as well.’

Paola Pisano, Minister of Technological Innovation and Digitalization in Italy, one of the hardest-hit countries, endorsed the hackathon in a video tweet and encouraged developers to get involved.

“#COVID19 Global Hackathon is a great opportunity for designers, developers to build solutions that drive social impact, with the aim of tackling some of the challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic. I’m encouraging innovators around the world to join #BuildforCOVID19.”

After Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter other companies like Pinterest, Slack, TikTok, Giphy, and WeChat will also be sharing their resources to support participants, including a dedicated channel from Slack.

Project submissions open 26 March Thursday, but if you’re interested, you can register now. At the time of writing, close to 2,000 developers have already signed up.

Link to the hackathon:- 

COVID-19 Global Hackathon

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