Open-Source Solutions for COVID-19 and Climate Change — Call for Code Finalists Announced

The 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge finalists have just been announced. Five open-source powered solutions that tackle COVID-19 and climate change issues were selected among thousands of entries. The winner will receive a $200,000 prize and hands-on support from IBM, The Linux Foundation, and the United Nations Human Rights Office, among others.

Yisela Alvarez Trentini
4 min readOct 7, 2020


The Call for Code competition unites developers, companies, and foundations to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges using open source-powered applications and technology.

Since its launch, the movement has grown to include more than 400,000 developers across 179 nations and over fifteen thousand solutions built using Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Watson, IBM Cloud, IBM Blockchain, and APIs from ecosystem partners.

Call for Code was created in 2018 by the David Clark Cause and launched alongside Founding Partners IBM and UN Human Rights. The $30 million global initiative has seen, in the three years the competition has been running, more than fifteen thousand innovative solutions that can drive positive change.

An overwhelming number of developers applied for the 2020 Call for Code, presenting apps powered by AI, hybrid cloud, and open source technology to address COVID-19 and climate change. The finalists include solutions that cover social distancing, remote education, smart farming, support for small businesses, and carbon footprint reduction.

Call for Code Top Five

Safe Queue

Safe Queue was created by a single developer from Los Angeles. This community-driven mobile app provides on-demand virtual lines for shopping centers, polling places, and small businesses using GPS location data. The app also allows employees to control the queue digitally and validate entries using a QR code for each customer. Safe Queue was recognized as part of Call of Code’s accelerated COVID-19 track in May and has since been developed and deployed across the country.


Agrolly was created by a team of developers from Brazil, India, Mongolia, and Taiwan. The app is designed to connect and support farms that have seen reduced crop yields because of climate change. It offers tailored information, such as requirements created by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, combined with weather forecasts so that each farmer can make more informed decisions, improve economic outcomes, and obtain financing. The app is powered by IBM Cloud Object Storage, IBM Watson Assistant, and IBM Watson Studio, and currently available for free in the Google Store.


Offship was created by a Canadian team of developers from Morgan Stanley. Unlike the other finalists, Offship is a browser plugin and is hosted in the IBM Cloud. It educates consumers on how their online purchases affect the environment by estimating the amount of carbon dioxide produced by each purchase. The plugin also offers greener alternatives for the same products and allows for carbon offset credits donation.

Business Buddy

This solution was created by a team os Australian students from the University of Sydney. Business Buddy provides a one-stop-shop for personalized updates so that small businesses can better face the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The app also helps determine businesses’ eligibility for government programs and provides an easy-access portal that guides them through the process. The solution is powered by IBM Cloud Foundry, IBM Watson Assistant, and IBM Cloudant.


SchoolListIt was created by a North Carolina working mother of three. The app’s goal is to help families manage schoolwork during COVID-19 lockdown. SchoolListIt compiles information from different learning apps used by teachers, and helps students and guardians understand, at a glance, what and when assignments are due. The app uses IBM Watson Text to Speech and also provides a digital community for parents.

Prize and Deployment

The winner of the Call for Code Global Prize will be selected by a group of judges that include some of the most eminent leaders in business, technology, human rights, and disaster risk reduction. The prize includes financing for $200,000 and support from IBM and The Linux Foundation to expand and deploy their solution in different areas of need.

In the previous edition of the competition, two Global Challenge winning solutions were incubated and successfully deployed by the IBM Service Corps and technical experts.

The winner in 2019 was Prometeo, a wearable device that measures CO2, temperature, humidity, and smoke concentration in real-time. The solution, created by a veteran firefighter, an emergency medical nurse, and three developers, completed its first wildfire field test earlier this year. In 2018, Project Owl won the competition with its offline communications infrastructure for first responders. The app’s simple interface helps manage all aspects of a disaster using a mesh network that can send speech-based communications to a central application using conversational systems. ProjectOwl was piloted across Puerto Rico’s hurricane-affected areas in collaboration with the IBM Service Corps.

In a time of unprecedented crisis, the Call for Code competition is supported by David Clark Cause and IBM’s unique ecosystem that guarantees robust, efficient, innovative, and easy-to-use solutions. The community also includes the United Nations Human Rights Office, the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative University, Verizon, Consumer Technology Association Foundation, World Bank, World Institute on Disability, and many more.

This year, the competition also included a dedicated University Edition with a $10,000 prize. The finalists are Kairos App (Latin-America), Lupe (Europe), Pandemap (Asia-Pacific), Plant-It (North America), and Rechargd (Asia-Pacific).

The 2020 winner will be announced on October 13 via the 2020 Call for Code Awards: A Global Celebration of Tech for Good digital event.

This article was originally published in Startup Savant on Sunday, October 4, 2020. Link:



Yisela Alvarez Trentini

Anthropologist & User Experience Designer. I write about science and technology. Robot whisperer. VR enthusiast. Gamer. @yisela_at