Applying Open Source for the Greater Good
If coding is your superpower, consider using it for the greater good through this organization aimed at helping developers save lives.
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It’s hard to imagine a 4,000-year-old tool used to make one of the first widely-used pieces of hardware, the wheel, playing a part in the open source movement we see today, right? But let’s think about it: the tool was crafted, designed, and engineered, but more importantly, the schematic was shared so others could build their own.
This capacity to share, especially when it’s to the benefit of the broader community, is an enduring trait: last year, a staggering 24 million people from nearly 200 countries contributed to open source software. As a developer, we have the ability, this almost-hidden superpower, to affect the world. Combine this with the aforementioned capacity to share, to do good, and the potential of this community is almost unimaginable.
I’d like to think that throughout my career I’ve held myself to that standard. Driving IBM’s commitment to open source, pushing a developer-focused meritocracy inside the company, and helping launch one of the best initiatives to put developers front-and-center in the ranks of first responders: Call for Code. A global developer challenge that asks those millions of you out there to join and tackle the biggest problems facing humanity. This year, we’re focusing on disaster preparedness.
I grew up in Puerto Rico, where much of my family is still based – and where they were based when Hurricane Maria hit leaving absolute devastation. Much of which is still being felt to this day. When I think about the powerful role software had to help make a difference, I’m encouraged when I think about all the possibilities software could play in the future – exactly the reason Call for Code exists.
In creating Call for Code, we took the decision early on to work with the American Red Cross and the UN Human Rights Office. Aligning closely with these two organizations has been imperative to understand the needs and the gaps in technology and to give developers a clear understanding on what they could build to save lives: using blockchain to build secure supply networks to make sure medications get to where they’re most needed in time before disaster strikes, or using analytics and weather data to predict and take action to mitigate the human damage of natural disasters. It could even be to use machine learning and visual recognition to understand movement rivers.
Of course, I wouldn’t be telling you about Call for Code if there wasn’t Open Source code behind the initiative. We have over 100 code ‘Patterns’ available — they’re basically completed, instantly deployable, cloud applications that tie together services that you’re likely to require. Want a containerized Blockchain instance? Check out this code pattern. Want an AI-powered Chatbot that understands analytics? Check out this code pattern!
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