Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter are helping to organize a tech meeting of the minds in the United States to assist the World Health Organization's fight against COVID-19.
The virtual event, #BuildforCOVID19, also provides guidance from scientists at the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub research initiative and developers from Slack, Pinterest, TikTok, Twitter, WeChat, Giphy, and Slow Ventures.
Engineers from these tech companies will provide guidance on building tools to help tackle “some of the health, economic and community challenges coming from the outbreak,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post.
Hackathons have been an important part of how Facebook creates new services and comes up with ideas. “Features like Blood Donations and Crisis Response were first built during hackathons and are now used by millions of people worldwide,” Zuckerberg wrote. “I'm hopeful that some useful prototypes and ideas will come out of this one as well.”
Submissions open today, with entries accepted through March 30. Participants can be as creative as they like, but the WHO has suggested certain types of services on the COVID-19 Global Hackathon website.
The site also has a place where engineers and developers can find teammates.
Developers can use the technology of choice to build projects that address a range of health initiatives including preventative and hygiene behaviors, specifically for at-risk countries and populations. These services should support frontline health workers, telemedicine, contact tracing and containment, treatment and diagnosis development.
Focus areas and themes also include problems facing the elderly and the immune-compromised, such as access to meals and groceries, and services that support those who have lost jobs and income.
Other areas should include problems that businesses face to stay afloat, collaborate effectively, and move parts of their business online. In addition, there are services that promote connections with friends, family, and neighbors to combat social isolation and the digitizing of public services for local governments, as well as alternatives to learning and entertainment to keep people healthy and safe.