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Calling for innovation with Call for Code

A bunch of technology innovators talk about their ideas and technology hacks to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. This time around, it’s Covid-19, and Infosys got together with IBM for their initiative to find these solutions.

Highlights

  • “It's all about we all wanting to make a change. And that one weapon that we as developers have is of code.” - Priya Mallya, Country Leader, Developer Ecosystem Group for ISA, IBM India Software Labs
  • “What we felt was giving educators a set of open source tools, backed by IBM Cloud and Watson services would help them to make their content more easily available to the students.” - Rani GS
  • “Participants got an opportunity to learn new tools and apply them in a live project, while being guided by master hacks, who were supporting them throughout the program.” - Saroj Senapathy, Unit Client Solution Head, Modernization Practice, Infosys

As the impact from the pandemic kept students indoors, Rani GS felt that there was a very real need for teachers to be able to reach their students – not just in the cities, but in places beyond.

Vinoth Kumar Krishnan Vijayakumar, on the other hand, felt that existing medical devices could be used to reduce the time taken to ascertain the possibility that someone is Covid-19 positive.

These, and many more relevant ideas were formed when Infosys joined hands with IBM for Call for Code, a hackathon aimed at solving very real and pressing issues.

The reason to do this is simple, says Priya Mallya, Country Leader, Developer Ecosystem Group for ISA, IBM India Software Labs.

“It's all about we all wanting to make a change. And that one weapon that we as developers have is of code,” she says, while also adding that satisfaction for engineers comes when they’re able to use of the weapon for a good cause.

Quite visibly so, not only the ability to make use of technology to solve a problem but seeking opportunities for the future is also essential.

“We wanted to build a completely open source-based solution, which would make use of modern technologies like chat bot, AR, VR, gamification, etc,” Rani GS

For instance, when Rani saw that remote education was one of the use cases for the hackathon, she and her team immediately started working on building a solution to explore the opportunities in the remote education sector, especially during the Pandemic.

“We wanted to build a completely open source-based solution, which would make use of modern technologies like chat bot, AR, VR, gamification, etc.,” she says, adding, “Giving educators a set of open source tools, backed by IBM Cloud and Watson services would help them to make their content more easily available to the students.”

Coding for Good

Call for Code, says Mallya, is the largest tech for good challenge of its kind. “In short, or in very simple words, it's a coding hack,” she says.

“It invites developers all over the world, anybody who can think of an idea and who can write some code, to come and create practical, very effective, and high-quality applications,” she adds. Indeed, the focus was clear.

“Infosys team focused on COVID-19, and worked on three themes - collaboration, communication and education,” says Saroj Senapathy, Unit Client Solution Head, Modernization Practice, Infosys, adding that the teams also got an opportunity to learn new tools and technologies.

“It invites developers all over the world, anybody who can think of an idea and who can write some code, to come and create practical, very effective, and high-quality applications,” Priya Mallya, Country Leader, Developer Ecosystem Group for ISA, IBM India Software Labs

For Vijayakumar, who was seeking a diagnostic solution, reducing the time for tests was paramount, for which he felt using radiation devices such as X-Ray, or CT scanners could be used.

Open to opportunities

Mallya also felt that some of the solutions were not only built keeping in mind the specific hack but went a step ahead and find possible opportunities of monetization, or alignment to business opportunities.

Rajib Deb, Head of Architechture – Modernization Practice, Infosys, and his team worked on a solution that is extensible and can be used not just for COVID-19, but for any such pandemic in the future.

“So, the architecture has been designed in such a way that it can adapt to the future needs of data collection, data analysis, and information dissemination for any such future pandemic,” says Deb.

What also helped was a beginner’s mindset, notes Mallya.

“Not just understanding the problem statement, but also exploring the technology areas that were required to solve that problem,” she says.

“This is the beauty of a hackathon like this, where you get to interact with many people, both from Infosys and partner organization… So the learning is accelerated through a crowdsourcing of knowledge,” Rajib Deb, Head of Architechture – Modernization Practice, Infosys

There were tools such as IBM’s Watson Assistant, Blockchain, Visual recognition, and Video Transcriber, among others, that the participants used to build their solutions.

Learning at the core

Learning was at the core of the process, according to Senapathy.

“Participants got an opportunity to learn new tools and apply them in a live project, while being guided by master hacks who were supporting them throughout the program,” he says.

The participants too appreciate this guidance.

While Rani feels that the teams managed to find solutions within the short time frame only because of the consistent guidance, and Vijayakumara credits the hackathon as a means for personal growth.

Deb calls it an excellent learning experience.

“This is the beauty of a hackathon like this, where you get to interact with many people, both from Infosys and partner organizations… So, the learning is accelerated through a crowdsourcing of knowledge,” he says.

For Mallya, coding is akin to falling in love with problem solving, and hackathons like Call for Code are a part of an ongoing conversation.

“I hope the conversation has just begun. And we take forward these conversations into building wonderful and creative communities for a better technology ecosystem for the future,” says Mallya.

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