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Call for Code – Climate Change Solutions

UPDATE – 23 March 2021: This article focuses on the 2020 version of Call for Code when discussing challenge specifics, though the general description and overview remains valid.

As of this week, the 2021 Call for Code Global Challenge is now open. Check it out on

Created by David Clark Cause, and now in its fourth year, the Call for Code initiative invites interested developers and coders to create solutions that take on societal issues via open-source projects. Or, in their own words:

This multi-year global initiative is a rallying cry to developers to use their skills to drive positive and long-lasting change across the world with code.

According to IBM, founding partner of the initiative:

Since its launch in 2018, this movement has grown to more than 400,000 developers and problem solvers across 179 nations, and has generated more than fifteen thousand solutions using technology including Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Cloud, IBM Watson, IBM Blockchain, data from The Weather Company, and APIs from ecosystem partners like HERE Technologies and IntelePeer.

Call for Code logo

Their detailed website lists all the relevant information about the concept and details on how to get involved. The steps included in their Getting Started section are listed as:

  • Step 1: Join the community – “Join our community of over 300,000 developers to build new cloud skills, meet like-minded devs, and contribute to Tech for Good open source projects. Get a free IBM Cloud account and receive latest updates on project deployments and new resources to boost your development.”
  • Step 2: Pick a project – “Whether you want to help farmers understand their water usage or link first responders to communities when connectivity fails, we have the open source projects for you. There are many ways you can get involved, from contributing to the core project or developing integrations and customizations.” 
  • Step 3: Find resources and collaborators – “Get started with the latest open source technologies, whether that is AI, IoT or data science. Find tutorials, code patterns, and more so you can start making meaningful contributions now. Meet collaborators and brainstorm ideas on our Slack channel.
  • Step 4: Make your contribution and share with your network. – “Start contributing to the project of your choice. Issues can be created and pull requests are made within the project GitHub repos themselves. In the spirit of open source, share your ideas and code with your network.” There’s also the chance to be featured in their Call for Code Digest on Medium.

Starter Kits & Tutorials

Whilst many coders may very well know, or at least have an idea of, what they’d like to build, for those that don’t there are three 2020 starter kits available covering:

  • Water sustainability: Use this starter kit to understand how water can help fight climate change and jump start your solution with our expert-validated idea.
  • Energy sustainability: Use this starter kit to understand the link between energy consumption and climate change, and jump-start your solution with the expert-validated idea listed on the page.
  • Disaster resiliency: Use this starter kit to understand how technology can help our society become more resilient to disasters and kick-start your solution with this idea for an AI-based app that prepares communities for floods.

The idea behind the water sustainability kit is as follows:
This IoT solution aims to help farmers, particularly those in shifting climate realities, monitor hyper-localized weather data and adapt their crop strategies to optimize water usage.

Two tutorials are included. The first being to analyze IoT sensor data:

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to connect an ESP8266 to Watson IoT over MQTT and stream environmental data from the sensors to the IBM Cloud.

The second tutorial covers how to build a weather dashboard:

This tutorial demonstrates how to display hyper-local weather information from a residential or farming weather station, using a personal weather station, Node-RED, Weather Underground, and The Weather Company APIs and the node-red-contrib-twc-weather nodes.

The idea behind the energy sustainability kit is as follows:
While the switch to clean energy in our homes will make a real and important impact to the climate, energy usage in the commercial sector is often higher than in the domestic sector. A key part of this commercial energy consumption goes into making products that we buy. The challenge is to build out from this framework to a more complete solution. Expertise is needed across a wide range of disciplines, including code & infrastructure developers, data scientists, designers & visualization experts.

Again, two tutorials are included. The first covers learning objectives:

Learn how to provision a prototype Climate Impact Rating system, with an API Server and data stored in a CouchDB instance using Cloudant, which together provides a framework to build out further rating components.

The second tutorial covers prerequisites:

You should have a basic understanding of calling APIs via HTTP. You could also learn more about using Swagger/OpenAPI. You’ll need an IBM Cloud account, with the latest IBM Cloud tools on your local machine.

For the third start kit, disaster resiliency, the idea is:
Due to climate change, floods are becoming more frequent and more severe, leading to widespread issues for affected communities. The goal of this application is to provide an end-to-end solution to help potential victims combat floods. The team approached the problem by breaking it down into three phases: before the flood, during the flood, and after the flood. By combining IBM’s Data & AI offerings with HERE Technologies’ Location Services, a developer can quickly get started building this solution. The starter kit offers a React Native template that has integration with Watson Assistant and HERE Technologies’ Location Services pre-built, helping developers jump-start the development process.

For this kit’s tutorial, of which there’s one this time, the goal is covering learning objectives:

The starter kit, composed of a React Native front end and Node.js back end, integrates with Watson Assistant and HERE Location Services. It gives developers a template to quickly get started building a solution.

The list also includes a lot of project info with additional tutorials and details on how you too can contribute.

Commit to the cause coding image
Image via Call for Code

2020 Winners

Last year’s winner was announced back in October 2020, with the top spot going to Agrolly for their application used to help the world’s small farmers cope with the environmental and business challenges of climate change.

For their efforts, over and above the joy of contributing to a good cause of course, they receive a prize of $200 000 as well as:

…support from IBM Service Corps and technical experts, and ecosystem partners to incubate, test and deploy their solution. Agrolly will also receive assistance from The Linux Foundation to open-source their application so developers across the world can improve and scale the technology.

Second through fourth place went to three Covid-19 projects:

  • Business Buddy – info – A Call for Code global finalist from Australia seeks to fight back against COVID-19;
  • Safe Queue – info – Open source-powered solution developed for COVID-19 response is keeping customers safe at small businesses like Waffle Cabin; and
  • SchoolListIt – info – A Call for Code global finalist from the United States seeks to enhance remote learning.

Fifth place was awarded to another climate solution: OffShip – info. Their aim is as follows:

By using IBM® Cloud and other technologies, OffShip is a browser extension that monitors items in your shopping basket and estimates their carbon footprint based on the weight and distance traveled.

At last year’s awards announcement Call for Code announced a new initiative too – Call for Code for Racial Justice – to urge its international community of hundreds of thousands of developers to contribute to solutions to confront racial inequalities. More info here.

Check it out, and devs, be sure to do your part, on and

Additionally, have a look at their GitHub:

Partners of the project include:
Creator: David Clark Cause – link
Founding Partner: IBM – link
Charitable Partner: The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) – link
Program Affiliate: The Linux Foundation – link

Changemaker: Arrow – link
Catalyst: Ingram Micro – link

Image via Call for Code

References and Sources:

Call for Code. 2021. Commit to the Cause. Push for Change. Answer the Call. [online] Available at:

IBM Developer. 2021. Contribute to open source projects – Call for Code. [online] Available at:

IBM News Room. 2020. Call for Code Names Winner of 2020 Global Challenge and Announces New Initiative to Combat Racial Injustice. [online] Available at:

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