Categories: CoronavirusTechnology

WHO teams up with tech giants for hackathon to fight COVID-19


The World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with Facebook, Microsoft, and other tech giants launched a hackathon that aims to use technology to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The #BuildforCOVID19 Global Online Hackathon was launched on March 24. The main goal is to get ideas and eventually develop software that can be used to manage the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Aside from Facebook and Microsoft, other tech giants like Twitter, TikTok, Slack, WeChat, Pinterest, and Giphy are also supporting the hackathon.

All the tech companies will be sharing their resources to software developers and participants. The hackathon is open to anyone who wishes to participate. As of March 26, submissions have been coming in.

The novel coronavirus pandemic came as a surprise and has forced many countries to close their borders. The pandemic is also wreaking havoc to the global economy and a global recession is now being felt.

As of the current tally, positive cases of coronavirus have risen to 597,262 with a death toll of 27,363.

What is a hackathon?

The hackathon is an opportunity for developers to build software solutions that drive social influence. It is also expected to encourage innovators to use various technologies to meet challenges brought by the pandemic.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a 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.”

Italian academic and politician Paola Pisano said that the COVID-19 Global Hackathon is “a great opportunity for designers and developers to build solutions that drive social impact.”

Key focus of the hackathon

The main objective of the hackathon is to build software solutions that can minimize the effects of the pandemic.

For WHO, one of the key challenges is how to effectively disseminate accurate and timely information about the pandemic. This will cover information such as prevention, medical supplies, and financial assistance, among others

Other key aspects of potential project submissions include the following:

  • Promote awareness and support frontline workers.
  • Support the vulnerable, including the elderly, and persons who may lose their jobs.
  • Help businesses in overcoming an economic recession and keep business transactions active.
  • Lessen the mental impact of social isolation among communities and guide people to support local governments.
  • Alternative methods to education by providing tools to teachers, students, and the entire educational system.
  • Prevent panic and provide ways for people to spend their time while in a lockdown.

The deadline for the submission of projects is on Monday. The top projects in the hackathon will be announced on April 3.

Featured image courtesy of Pixabay

Ali Qamar

Ali Qamar is a seasoned, versatile writer. He is a geek. He is crazy (and competent) about internet security, digital finance, and technology. Ali is naturally attracted to transforming things, and he believes 5G will be the next transformer in society. Ali does not hold any cryptocurrency.

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