Tech to the rescue: Apps for disaster management

Published: November 21, 2019 12:10:27 AM

Indian team Purva Suchak takes pole position in the Asia Pacific regional round of IBM Call for Code 2019

Priya Mallya, Country Leader, Developer Ecosystems, IBM ISAPriya Mallya, Country Leader, Developer Ecosystems, IBM ISA

By Srinath Srinivasan

Indian team Purva Suchak has won the top prize in the Asia Pacific regional round in IBM Call for Code 2019 while Barcelona-based Prometeo has won the Call for Code 2019 Global Prize. Call for Code is a $30 million, five-year global initiative which, together with Charitable Partner United Nations Human Rights, has become one of the largest efforts bringing together start-ups, academicians, and enterprise developers to address pressing societal issues. Building on last year’s inaugural challenge, Call for Code 2019 focused on creating solutions to help mitigate the impact of natural disasters and enable first responders to better support survivors.

More than 1,80,000 individuals from 165 nations participated this year. They include independent and enterprise developers, data scientists, activists, and students. The teams used The Weather Company data and open source-powered technology – including IBM Cloud, IBM Watson, and IBM Blockchain – to create 5,000-plus applications to prepare for and mitigate the impact of natural disasters.

Project Purva-Suchak aims to prevent the pervasive flooding that plagues the Indian subcontinent. By continuously checking reservoirs, dams and bodies of water, Project Purva-Suchak can collate data with weather forecast information. This allows it to generate effective flood prediction data that can be stored on blockchain and accessed by those who need the data, including government agencies and disaster management teams. “Blockchain provides data integrity that can’t be tampered with or back tracked. Hence, it is an effective solution for authorities to streamline, track and account for actions that they take,” says Sangeetha Nair, who has worked on blockchain technology for this project.

The regional winners will have the option of developing and implementing their solution through IBM’s Code and Response—a $25 million initiative that fosters the creation and deployment of open source technologies to help solve social challenges.

“We are seeing increased participation every year from all across the world and it’s bringing together some of the greatest minds of this generation to build innovative solutions that can save lives in disaster-stricken areas. With regional editions being introduced from this year, we can now recognise and implement solutions that addresses issues relevant to a particular region,” says Priya Mallya, country leader, Developer Ecosystems, IBM ISA.

The first runner-up for the Global Challenge is Sparrow, whose members hail from India, China, and the US. Sparrow is an open-source AI-enabled platform that serves as a one-stop enabler of medical and psychological well-being during and after disasters. Prometeo, who have been titled as the global winner, has built a system that uses artificial intelligence and the internet of things to guard the safety of firefighters as they battle blazes.

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