2020 COVID-19 Call for Code Global Challenge

Build a coding solution that can provide immediate crisis communication, enhanced remote education, or stronger community cooperation.
Winners Announced in October, 2020
$270,000 Prize Purse



The clock is ticking. Build solutions that fight back.

COVID-19 has revealed limits of the systems we take for granted, compromising our health, our planet, and our survival. We’ve expanded the 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge to take on COVID-19. Developers and problem solvers: join us to build open source solutions to make an immediate and lasting impact.

Why focus on COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic poses not only a huge health concern to people - particularly the immunocompromised and elderly - but it also has had huge effects in uprooting societies and disrupting supply chains globally. We’re asking the world's developers and subject matter experts to help tackle this pandemic by increasing awareness through communications. CallforCode and IBM are seeking coding solutions that can provide: 

  1. Immediate crisis communication;
  2. Enhanced remote education; OR
  3. Stronger community cooperation.

What is Call for Code?

Call for Code asks innovators to create practical, effective, and high-quality applications based on one or more IBM Cloud™ services (for example, web, mobile, data, analytics, AI, IoT, or weather) that can have an immediate and lasting impact on humanitarian issues. Teams of developers, data scientists, designers, business analysts, subject matter experts and more are challenged to build solutions to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and climate change. 

This year the competition will have two tracks. One track is for solutions that help halt and reverse the impact of climate change. The second track is for solutions to mitigate the impact of global pandemics like COVID-19 on communities around the world. Winning solutions are deployed in communities that need the most help.

Crisis Communication

What's the problem?

When a new disease such as COVID-19 emerges, communications systems are one of the first systems to become overwhelmed. From questions around disease transmission, to how to best protect your health and others around you, to the severity of the disease itself.

How can technology help?

Crisis communication, whether through a chatbot, SMS, or a website, can alleviate panic in communities and provide guidance on the best ways to protect yourself and your loved ones.  From guidance on good hygiene to how to properly detect symptoms or key contact information, technology like chatbots or messaging platforms can help deliver information quickly and precisely. This can save people hours compared to waiting to get through to a call center, and free up customer service representatives to focus on higher level issues. 

For Example...

Create a machine learning powered web app to answer questions

Create a banking chatbot


Remote Education

What's the problem?

Part of the World Health Organization's guidance on limiting further spread of COVID-19 is to practice social distancing. As a result, schools in most affected areas are taking precautionary measures by closing their facilities. With school-aged children at home for an indeterminate amount of time,  keeping them engaged, entertained, and on top of their education is important. 

How can technology help?

Schools and teachers can continue to engage with their students through virtual classrooms, and even create interactive spaces for classes. As parents face a new situation where they may need to homeschool their children, finding appropriate online resources is important as well. 

For example...

Building successful mobile apps

The future of responsive design


Community Cooperation

What's the problem?

Your local community must stand united, operate efficiently and be there for its constituents more than ever before. Understanding not only what is happening in your neighborhood, but also how you can help others, or how others can help you, is vital to remaining hopeful in uncertain times.

How can technology help?

Consider how you can incorporate everything from weather data to local food and medical supply information to help your local community better deal with a crisis -- especially those who need it most.

For example...

The Weather Company and you

Gain insight into your supply chain


Four easy steps to get involved

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1. Accept the challenge
Learn about the competition, see what you can win, and start coding with a free IBM Cloud account.
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2. Build with open tech
Learn how you can make the most of resources like code patterns, expert videos, and tutorials to build your idea.
Start coding
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3. Find your squad
Whether you need to find teammates, meet experts, ask questions, or share ideas - there’s a community for you.
Start networking
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4. Submit your idea
Tell us what you’ve built and how. Submit this with your Participation agreement for a chance to win $200,000. Deadline is July 31st, 2020.
Submit your solution


 Grand prize winner

  • $200,000 USD cash prize
  • Invitation to the Call for Code Global Award Announcement
  • Open source project support from The Linux Foundation
  • Opportunity for mentorship and investment in the solution
  • Solution implementation support through Code and Response™

 First and second runner up

  • $25,000 USD cash prize
  • Invitation to the Call for Code Global Award Announcement
  • Open source project support from The Linux Foundation

 Third and fourth runner up

  • $10,000 USD cash prize
  • Invitation to the Call for Code Global Award Announcement
  • Open source project support from The Linux Foundation



Technical Content Library: Dig into our best technical content across four key technology areas and start building your idea quickly and easily.


Winning solutions get deployed: Previous Winners

Project Owl

The Grand Prize winners of the inaugural 2018 Call for Code Global Challenge designed solar-powered mesh network devices that build connectivity where there is none. The team brought their devices in a field test to parts of Puerto Rico hit hardest by Hurricane Maria.

Read more 



The Grand Prize winners of the 2019 Call for Code Global Challenge beat out nearly 180,000 participants with their solution. The Barcelona-based team, which includes first responders, developed a Watson-based AI solution designed to monitor health and safety in firefighters, both long term and in real-time.

Read more 





Submissions will be judged equally across 4 primary criteria which evaluate whether the solution solves a real-world problem and uses technology effectively.

  1. Completeness and transferability: How fully has the idea been implemented? Can it achieve an impact in the field? Can it be transferred elsewhere?
  2. Effectiveness and efficiency: Does the solution address a high priority area? Does it achieve its goal effectively and efficiently? Can it scale?
  3. Design and usability: How good is the design, user experience, and ease of use of the solution? How quickly can it be put to use?
  4. Creativity and innovation: How unique was the approach to solving a long-standing or previously intractable problem?


  1. Submissions –
    Submissions must use one or more IBM Cloud services or IBM Systems. Use of sponsor or affiliate APIs and open source libraries is also encouraged.
  2. Team size –
    Teams of up to five (5) participants, each at least 18 years old, are allowed.
  3. Joining teams –
    A participant may not be part of multiple teams.
  4. Participation agreement –
    All team members must have accepted the 2020 Participation Agreement at the time they submit to be eligible.
  5. Application standards –
    Applications must be new and built for the 2020 competition, but they may use code that was open sourced and publicly available to all other participants as of February 26, 2020.
  6. Winners –
    Winning teams will be subject to a code review after submissions close


Items needed for submission

To enter your team’s code, its documentation, and team member information into the 2020 Call for Code competition, one member of your team will require the following information for the submission form.

  1. Submission name-
    Enter the name for your solution or team in about five words.
  2. Submission track-
    Select the track or tracks you want to submit to. You can submit the core application to both tracks, but you will have to submit it to each track independently, and the descriptions and other details should be tailored towards the specific track.
  3. Short description-
    Describe your team’s solution in about ten words.
  4. Long description-
    Write about 500 words, or around one page of text, that covers the solution in more detail. Please include the real-world problem you identified, describe the technology project you created, and explain why it’s better than any existing solution. You can supply additional documentation in your source code repository link below.
  5. Solution roadmap-
    Create a document or image that shows how mature your solution is today and how you would like to improve it in the future. This can include information on the business model, funding needs, and a sustainability plan.
  6. Link to publicly accessible GitHub repository-
    (or other location such as GitLab or Box) where the judges can download, examine, and evaluate the source code behind the solution. You can provide additional description and diagrams in the repository. Hint: Review the judging criteria and rules: 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge.
  7. Link to a three-minute demo video-
    Record a demo of your project, upload it to YouTube or Vimeo and share the URL. Three minutes is the maximum length. You can link to longer versions from your source code repository. Keep in mind that non-technical judges may rely on this more than technical documentation.
  8. List of one or more IBM Cloud Services or IBM Systems used in the solution-
    Join the Challenge Community to get an IBM Cloud account. Your application can use additional data sets, libraries, and externally-hosted services to complement the IBM Cloud services or IBM Systems.
  9. Your email address and the email addresses of up to four additional team members-
    Each team member needs 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.

Additional details-
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.