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Call for Code Tackles Racial Injustice

When IBM and the organizers of the Call for Code Global Challenge announced the grand prize winner last week (our coverage here) of its third annual international tech-for-good competition, they also unveiled a new Call for Code initiative: Call for Code for Racial Justice, which IBM is describing as "a vital initiative that brings together technology and a powerful ecosystem to combat one of the greatest challenges of our time: racial injustice."

Just as the original Call for Code Challenge urged developers around the world to use their skills to address climate change, and then both climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Call for Code for Racial Justice expands the admonition further, calling on the international community of hundreds of thousands of developers to contribute to solutions to confront racial inequalities.

Call for Code for Racial Justice encourages the adoption and innovation of open source projects to drive progress in three key areas: Police and Judicial Reform and Accountability; Diverse Representation; and Policy and Legislation Reform.

The new initiative emerged from an internal IBM program called the Call for Code Emb(race) Challenge. It was started by Black IBMers who, along with Red Hatters and IBM allies, applied their ingenuity and expertise to design and develop technology solutions to address the problem of systemic racism. These solutions are now being opened up to the world as open source projects through the Call for Code tech-for-good platform.

The organizers are partnering with a number of organizations, including: Black Girls Code, Collab Capital, Dream Corps, The United Way Worldwide, American Airlines, Cloud Native Computing Foundation, and Red Hat.

"Black Girls Code was created to introduce programming and technology to a new generation of coders," said Anesha Grant, director of alumnae and educational programs at Black Girls Code, in a statement, "and we believe that a new generation of coders will shape our futures. We're excited to participate in Call for Code for Racial Justice and to spark meaningful change."

The Call for Code for Racial Justice launched officially this week at the virtual All Things Open

The IBM Call for Code for Racial Justice team kicked off the competition by contributing "solution starters" to the open source community. These projects were built using technologies such as Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Cloud, IBM Watson, Blockchain ledger, Node.js, Vu.js, Docker, Kubernetes and Tekton, said Evaristus Mainsah, General Manager, IBM Hybrid Cloud and Edge Ecosystem and co-chair of IBM's Black Executive Council, and Willie Tejada, General Manager, IBM Developer Ecosystems Group and Chief Developer Advocate, in a joint blog post.

"We're asking developers and ecosystem partners to join us in combatting racial injustice by testing, extending and implementing these open source solutions, and contributing their own diverse perspectives and expertise to make them even stronger," they said.

The list of solution starters includes:

  • Five Fifths Voter: This web application empowers Black people and other minorities to ensure their voices are heard by exercising their right to vote. It is a virtual one-stop-shop to help determine optimal voting strategies for each individual and limit the impact of previous suppression issues.
  • Legit-info: Local legislation and policies can have significant impact on areas as far-reaching as jobs, the environment and safety. Legit-info helps individuals understand in their own language the legislation that shapes their lives. 
  • Incident Accuracy Reporting System: This platform for police incident reporting allows witnesses and victims to corroborate evidence from multiple sources and assess against an official police report. The system creates a more reliable record of all accounts of the incident.  
  • Open Sentencing: To help public defenders better serve their clients, Open Sentencing identifies racial bias in data such as demographics that can help make a stronger case. 
  • Truth Loop: This app helps communities simply understand the policies, regulations and legislation that will impact them the most. 

"Each year I'm amazed by how this global community of developers comes together to help solve some of the world's most pressing issues, and this year is no different," said Call for Code creator David Clark, in a statement. "Through the support of UN Human Rights, IBM, The Linux Foundation, the Call for Code ecosystem, world leaders, tech icons, celebrities, and the amazing developers that drive innovation, Call for Code has become the defining tech for good platform the world turns to for results."

Posted by John K. Waters on October 20, 2020