Submissions for the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge are closed. See what’s coming next.

Frequently asked

General challenge

What is the Call for Code Global Initiative?

Now in its third year, this multi-year global initiative rallies developers, visionaries, and problem solvers to create practical, effective, and high-quality applications based on cloud, data, and artificial intelligence that can have an immediate and lasting impact on humanitarian issues. Call for Code brings start-up, academic, and enterprise developers together and inspires them to solve the most pressing societal issues of our time.

What is the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge?

The 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge has been expanded this year to contain dual tracks that address the world’s reaction to COVID-19, in addition to climate change — two pressing issues that have the power to compromise our health, our planet, and our survival. You can find more details on the official Challenge page.

COVID-19: In a very short period of time, COVID-19 has revealed the limits of the systems we take for granted. The 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge arms developers, visionaries, and problem solvers with resources to build open source technology solutions that address three main areas: crisis communication during an emergency, ways to improve remote learning, and how to inspire cooperative local communities.

Climate Change: As part of the United Nations’ 75th anniversary, the UN has initiated a global conversation on the role of global cooperation in building the future we want, tackling issues that are essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge asks developers, data scientists, and other subject matter experts to create solutions that help halt and reverse the effects of climate change in our world. This includes solutions that concentrate on water sustainability, energy sustainability, and disaster resiliency.

You can submit an application to one or both tracks. While you can leverage your same code for each track, submissions must include content that is tailored and relevant to the specific track to which you are submitting.

How did we determine the 2020 Call for Code Challenge theme?

Since its inception three years ago, Call for Code has leveraged technology to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges. In the first two years, we focused on mitigating the effects of natural disasters. Together, IBM and David Clark Cause saw the great success of those solutions and decided the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge will address COVID-19, in addition to climate change — two pressing issues that have the power to compromise our health, our planet, and our survival.

Where can I find the official rules?

The Participation Agreement you accept upon submission contains complete details of the Challenge. See the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge page for the basic rules.

Where can I learn more about the 2018 and 2019 winners?

In 2018, Project OWL won the inaugural Call for Code Global Prize. Read about the other top ideas from 2018.

In 2019, Prometeo won the Call for Code 2019 Global Challenge with their winning idea on monitoring firefighters’ health as they fight wildfires. Read about the other top ideas from 2019.

These teams are open sourcing their solutions through Code and Response™ with The Linux Foundation.

Where can I find information about DCC, IBM, and other partners?

See the links to all Call for Code organizations on the Call for Code homepage. Or get in touch through the Contact form.

Accelerated COVID-19 timeline

What is the accelerated timeline for COVID-19 submissions?

In a very short period of time, COVID-19 has revealed the limits of the systems we take for granted. Call for Code was built upon the premise of activating the more than 24 million developers around the world, and harnessing their talent to make a real and lasting impact by having their solutions deployed to those that can use them most.

With the unprecedented acceleration of COVID-19, and the strain that it is putting on the systems for how we get information, how we deliver education, and how we support communities, we have created an accelerated submission timeline to help identify, build and deploy solutions that address these areas quickly.

Therefore we have opened up an additional option for applications created for the COVID-19 track to be evaluated in April and recognized in May. This is in addition to the main competition timeline for both COVID-19 and climate change that closes for submissions on July 31, 2020.

If I submit my application on the accelerated timeline, am I still eligible for the 2020 Call for Code Global Prize?

Yes. If you submit by April 27, your application has the chance to be recognized and deployed early, to have the greatest opportunity for an immediate and lasting impact. It remains eligible for the 2020 Call for Code Global Prize.

All applications submitted for the accelerated timeline, except for the top 3 that are selected in May, can continue to be updated and resubmitted with additional features before July 31, 2020.

What are the accelerated timeline rules?

All applications submitted by April 27, 2020 at 11:59 pm PDT, that address the COVID-19 track of the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge will be eligible for consideration. Applications in that track must address the themes of crisis communication, remote education, or community cooperation. Judges will identify the top 3 applications submitted by the April 27, 2020 deadline.

What is the accelerated timeline schedule?

April 27, 2020 – Submission deadline
May 5, 2020 – Announcement of top 3 applications at the IBM Think virtual conference
May 15, 2020 – Top 3 solution deployment support begins

After I submit for the accelerated timeline, can I update my application?

Teams whose applications are not selected among the top 3 of the accelerated timeline submissions may continue to work on their applications, and resubmit updated applications by the July 31, 2020, deadline.

Teams whose applications are selected among the top 3 may continue to work on their application as part of deployment support. However, for purposes of the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge – COVID-19 track, your submission will be frozen at the point it was submitted for the accelerated deadline.

Being named in the top 3, or having your submission highlighted, does not affect the judging for the 2020 Call for Code Global Prize.

All teams submitting for the accelerated deadline retain the right to create a unique submission for the climate change track of the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge as outlined in the Participation Agreement.

What is the accelerated timeline judging criteria?

The judging criteria remains the same as for the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge.

What do I get for submitting on the accelerated timeline?

The top 3 submissions will receive an immediate assignment of IBM mentors to work with you to quickly get your application deployment ready. IBM, in partnership with the IBM Service Corps, Charitable Partner the United Nations Human Rights, Program Affiliate The Linux Foundation and Creator David Clark Cause will also identify and facilitate the engagement of organizations that can use your solution.

Submission information

How can I use IBM technology to answer the Call for Code Challenge?

The IBM Developer Call for Code page has links to resources for the COVID-19 and climate change challenges. Within each list of resources, you’ll find general information, data sets, and APIs along with starter kits, tutorials, and code patterns to jump-start your solution.

When you accept the Call for Code Global Challenge, you are automatically registered for an IBM Cloud Lite account where you have access to many free services. You can update your account to have access to even more services as well as $200 in cloud credits good for 30 days. Click here to upgrade your account and select the “Pay-As-You-Go” account. Once you enter your credit card information, you’ll receive a special $200 promo code for Call for Code participants that you can use for additional memory and access to a Kubernetes cluster.

Do I have access to any data sets?

The United Nations and the American Red Cross provide various data sets. We are always looking to add more. You can start with these links and find more on this Call for Code blog.
• UN Data from the United Nations Statistics Division
UN Sustainable Development Goals Indicators
Red Cross Catalogs and Resources

Who can participate?

All developers, designers, and entrepreneurs who are over the age of 18 or the age of majority in their jurisdiction, whichever is greater. Employees of IBM, DCC, and governmental agencies are not eligible to participate. All participants must accept the terms of the Participation Agreement upon submission. Full details on eligibility can be found in the Participation Agreement.

How can I find technical help or advice?

In addition to this list of frequently asked questions, you can connect with IBM mentors in the Call for Code Slack community. They can provide answers on the competition rules and judging, point you to technical resources, and point you to the right place for general questions.

How are teams formed?

Teams are created at the discretion of individual participants with a team being no more than five individuals. Options to find other team members are available through the Call for Code Slack community.

Can I participate if I don’t write code or develop software?

Yes, and in fact many successful teams in the past, including last year’s winner Prometeo, were comprised of members with diverse skills. This helps to ensure that the right problems are being solved by contributors that each bring unique expertise. You still need to submit a working application, but your solution is also judged according to the completeness of its vision in a roadmap and description of a well-documented problem.

How is the Call for Code Challenge judged?

See the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge page for the breakdown of scoring criteria.

How are submissions entered?

To enter the 2020 Call for Code competition your team leader will require the following information to submit your solution:

• Submission name. The name for your solution or team in five words or less.
• Submission track. Whether you are submitting for the COVID-19 track or the climate change track.
• Short description. Describe your team’s solution in 10 words or less.
• Long description. Describe your solution in more detail. Give us a more detailed description of what you’re building, what problem you are solving, and why it matters in less than 500 words.
• Solution roadmap. How mature is your submission and where do you intend to take it from here?
• Link to GitHub or another source code repository such as GitLab or Box. You can provide additional description and diagrams here. Hint: Review the judging criteria and rules: 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge.
• Link to a three-minute demo video. Record a demo of your project, upload it to YouTube or Vimeo and share the URL.
• List of IBM Cloud Services or IBM Systems used in the solution. Join the Challenge Community to get an IBM Cloud account.
• Email addresses of up to four additional team members. Each will need to accept the Participation Agreement. You can only be part of one team of up to 5 members, and your team can only submit one application per track.

The team leader who submitted the solution will receive an email confirming the submission details. If you need to update or replace your submission, please create a new submission. The latest submission from the submitter email address before the July 31, 2020, deadline will be considered the final entry.

How much working code do I need to submit?

The more complete your application is, the better you’ll score on the “completeness and transferability” criterion. That’s also why the solution roadmap you provide along with your solution is helpful. It indicates how mature the project is and where you plan to go next in its development. While we don’t expect each solution to be production-ready upon submission, we are looking for concrete solutions that can be nurtured, improved, and eventually deployed through the Code and Response™ with The Linux Foundation program.

What is the Fresh Code Rule?

Applications must be new and built for the 2020 competition between February 26 and July 31, 2020, but they may use code that was open sourced and available to all other participants as of February 26, 2020. Other than that, almost anything goes, and you can use any coding languages or open source libraries.

What are my intellectual property rights for my submission?

Teams have ownership of everything they build. The winning team and four runners up will receive support from The Linux Foundation to nurture their submission as an Apache 2 Licensed open source project and build a community around it, ensuring that it is freely deployable around the world in the areas of greatest need. The Participation Agreement contains complete details of the rules.

Do participants need to use IBM Cloud or IBM Systems to win?

Yes. IBM is providing a catalog of cloud, AI, and data services for participants to use to build their applications. Usage of IBM Cloud Services, including open source services that are provided and run on IBM Cloud, is a prerequisite to eligibility. To encourage the effective use of IBM services, IBM provides many hands-on activities through developer advocacy that help participants get the most out of them. See the IBM Cloud catalog for a list of services that can be used. Your application can use additional data sets, libraries, and externally hosted services to complement the IBM Cloud services or IBM Systems.

University award edition

How does the University Award Edition differ from the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge?

The University Award Edition provides an additional opportunity to recognize the top rated application submitted from a team of university students.

Are university students eligible for the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge?

Yes. However, if a student team is selected as a finalist for the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge, they are ineligible for the University Award Edition challenge.

Who is eligible to submit for the University Award Edition?

All students that are enrolled in an accredited institution of higher education at any time during the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge (February 26, 2020 – July 31, 2020) and who are 18 years old by July 31, 2020, are eligible. All eligibility criteria outlined in the Participation Agreement also apply.

Can university students team up with non-university students to participate in the University Award Edition?

No. To participate in the University Award Edition, all team members must meet the eligibility criteria described above.

However, mixed teams made up of eligible students and non-students can participate in the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge.

Can faculty be part of a team?

No. This award is designed to recognize university students, and as such, teams must be comprised of only eligible students. Faculty are welcome to create a team and a submission for the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge, provided they meet the eligibility criteria in the Participation Agreement.