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IBM’s Call for Code showcases promising solutions for common pandemic problems

call for code

IBM senior vice president Bob Lord and Chelsea Clinton, chair of the Clinton Foundation, recently revealed three promising solutions to common pandemic problems being created by entrants from this year’s currently-in-progress Call for Code challenge.

Call for Code is a five-year challenge created by IBM and the David Clarke Foundation. It calls on developers, humanitarians, and dreamers to come up with solutions to some of the biggest problems facing the world including disaster response, climate crisis mitigation, and fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

A little over a month ago TNW reported on the addition of COVID-19 response to the Call for Code challenge. In the short time since, IBM‘s managed to find three promising solutions to problems that affect almost all of us.

Read: IBM takes on coronavirus with 2020 Call for Code challenge

First, an India-based team from global design and engineering company Altran developed a self-help health app called “Are You Well?” that’s designed to ease the burden on overwhelmed healthcare workers by helping users determine the severity of any illness symptoms they’re experiencing.

The app relies on IBM‘s Watson AI in the form of a chat bot that users interact with. Per an IBM press release:

Interfacing with an IBM Watson chatbot, users are asked if they are feeling well and to describe any symptoms. The AI system then ranks the users’ input by severity level – high, medium, or low – and connects users with medical professionals to further evaluate if the symptoms are at a high severity level.

This is an interesting version of the “symptom checker” app idea that sets itself apart from similar systems by utilizing Watson. The chat bot interface walks users through information rather than relying on people to click the proper links and check the right boxes. This could make it easier for general public to use and lead to greater adoption. For more information on “Are You Well?” click here.

The second solution might be the most immediately useful. “Safe Queue” by Los Angeles-based developer and entrepreneur Dave Chura, is a virtual method for handling physical queues at shops and markets. Rather than standing in long lines risking infection, this digital solution does it for you.

The big idea here comes straight out of those chain restaraunts that give you a vibrating pager to alert you when your table is ready. In this case, Safe Queue holds your place in any line so that you can stay in your car or spread out further than the mandated six feet for social distancing.

As Chura puts it:

Technology should be able to help with this. We should be able to better than say, just get in line, and put as many red Xes on the ground six-feet apart as we can spend time doing.

Read more about Safe Queue Read more about Safe Queue here.

The third project IBM unveiled is called CovidImpact and it’s meant to be a small business owner’s best friend. Developed by an international team of experts, it uses IBM‘s Watson to curate up-to-date information, resources, and articles aimed at helping small businesses mitigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also provides local governments with a heat map of the most-affected small business areas. Per the IBM press release it “displays areas where government business aid isn’t reaching and notifies officials so they can direct aid to specific regions or industries.”

You can learn more about CovidImpact here.

Published May 7, 2020 — 19:41 UTC

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