#BuildforCOVID19: Facebook, Microsoft and tech companies partner with WHO for global coronavirus hackathon

#BuildforCOVID19 is a global online competition to find innovative pitches to tackle current issues regarding misinformation and life in lockdown as well as the industries affected


                            #BuildforCOVID19: Facebook, Microsoft and tech companies partner with WHO for global coronavirus hackathon
Mark Zuckerberg (Getty Images)

As the number of confirmed cases for the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to rise, there is also a rise of global infodemic. The #buildforCOVID19 is a Global Online Hackathon platform for all the developers, local or global, to build software solutions that drive social impact, with the aim of tackling some of the challenges related to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It will include, finding solutions for preventing misinformation online to finding a way to create better learning environments and tools for students, teachers, and entire school systems to find a solution to help make things run smoothly in different industries in the midst of Coronavirus. 

Governments have issued guidance for members of the community to practice social distancing, while companies have enforced work from home policies in an effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19 across the population. Devpost, a platform that helps software engineers participate in software competitions and find engineering jobs have said that the online event of the global hackathon will seek to understand the challenges that technology can address, such as the need for accurate disease prevention information, in "formats that resonate."

Hackathons are usually physical events where developers gather in one location to work on software projects and come up with new ideas, but this upcoming hackathon will take place online in the midst of the pandemic. As most of the countries have declared lockdown, with only essential things to remain open; schools, restaurants, offices, etc have been asked to shut down. The participants will help find solutions. The competition has been sourced and partnered with health partners including the World Health Organization and scientists at the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub.

The COVID-19 Global Hackathon is a platform for all types of developers. Software developers and technology involved people come together to compete, and give solutions related to the recent pandemic to help the society run better.

High tech companies including Facebook, Microsoft, Pinterest, Slack, TikTok, Twitter, WeChat, Giphy, etc have come together to join #buildforCOVID19. They will help source resources to support participants throughout the submission period to help tackle some of the health, economic and community challenges coming from the outbreak.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post, "Hackathons have always been an important part of how we come up with new ideas and projects at Facebook -- features like Blood Donations and Crisis Response were first built during hackathons and are now used by millions of people worldwide. I'm hopeful that some useful prototypes and ideas will come out of this one as well." 

The #buildforCOVID19 Hackathon will address some pressing issues faced today during the period of lockdown, and try to tackle these issues to make things smooth for people all around the world over all the different types of industries. They have suggested seven themes including health, vulnerable populations, businesses, community, education, entertainment, and others. 

There are solutions across categories, for every industry that could use creative and innovative solutions such as, building a local community tool finder to help and match people to different local businesses to help fulfill their requirements.

One pitch offers a mentorship tool, which can be used for inter-generational virtual coffee chats for people to communicate with each other.

Another pitch suggests developing a platform where schools and school systems may fill out a survey with detailed information on how they are continuing to provide education in the face of school closures. This will help researchers and the education industry keep a track of different education techniques used.

To tackle the issue of music artists and cooking companies losing on their livelihoods with their performances being canceled, a pitch suggested developing a Pay-Per-View technology for high-quality live experiences online with easy tools for artists to be able to live-stream themselves in high-quality video.

One of the most important issues faced today is the shortage of healthcare providers in the hospitals, a pitch proposed creating a marketplace for soliciting and matching healthy nurses and doctors to facilities that need them.

The participants of this competition need to come up with such innovative pitches to help tackle such issues. The winner of the competition will receive a social impact and recognition prize. The selected submissions will be applied to make COVID-19 easier to tackle online.

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