could coding save lives and the environment?

Could software developers really help save the planet through coding? IBM and the Singapore Civil Defence Force believe they can. That’s why they’ve announced the SCDF X IBM Lifesavers’ Innovation Challenge: Call For Code 2021 in search for sustainable solutions to tackle climate change.


Think of software developers and code, and your mind is likely to drift to setting-up websites, apps or even video games. That’s why it’s so interesting that organisations are coming together to encourage youth to develop creative code solutions to save lives and do better by the environment.

In search of code that could help build and contribute to sustainable solutions to tackle climate change, IBM and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), together with Accenture, their innovation partner, announced the SCDF X IBM Lifesavers’ Innovation Challenge: Call for Code 2021 earlier this week.

why the need for code?

It should come at no surprise that the impact of climate change is tremendous and destructive. It is especially pertinent to the disaster-prone ASEAN region. More than ever, there is a need for innovative solutions that could help tackle these issues in a sustainable way.

And the unique way to achieve these innovative solutions? Coding.

Martin Chee, General Manager for IBM ASEAN and Singapore concurs. “Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and we must apply our collective ingenuity and cutting-edge technologies to make a lasting difference,” he explains.

what’s the challenge?

The challenge invites software developers to develop and deploy solutions that could help with Singapore’s civil defence, community resilience and emergency response.

Participants would need to leverage on emerging technologies, especially ‘green tech’ to help enhance emergency response and public safety. At the same time, they would also look into ways to make SCDF’s service delivery environmentally friendly by design. They are also invited to take advantage of technology to better predict and prepare for extreme weather events and natural disasters.

University undergraduates, Junior College and Polytechnic students can form teams of 5 to participate. Together, they’ll aim to develop solutions that would tackle problems concerning the Nation’s emergency response.

The top 5 winning teams will stand to win a cash pool of S$21,000 and up to US$120,000 IBM Cloud Credits. Experts would also mentor the five shortlisted student teams to improve their ideas before the Grand Finals.

To ensure that good ideas don’t go to waste, Mr Chee also explains, “The Singapore winning team will have an opportunity to participate in IBM’s Call For Code challenge and stand a chance to work with IBM to incubate and deploy their solution where it’s most needed.”

how did last year’s challenge go?

The team from Singapore Management University who clinched top prize in last year’s challenge.

Last year’s edition of the challenge drew in many talented developers. 370 teams comprising 1244 students from Junior Colleges, Polytechnics and Universities came together for a 48-hour virtual hackathon.

A team of students from the Singapore Management University (SMU) clinched the top position. They took home a cash prize of S$10,000 and an additional US$120,000 in IBM Cloud credits to implement their project.

Their clever solution utilised smart infrastructures such as sensors within buildings. These ensured the efficiency and safety of emergency evacuation and rescue.

the call to code.

The Singapore winning team will have an opportunity to participate in IBM’s Call for Code challenge. Call for Code is a larger global initiative that encourages developers to utilise their coding skills to tackle climate change. There are currently 400,000 developers and problem solvers across 179 nations who are involved in driving change.

Some interesting projects that have come out of this movement include ClusterDuck Protocol (CDP). During times of crises, like when a hurricane hits, cell towers and generators are destroyed. This prevents people from communicating with others and seeking help. CDP helps restore 1% of communication even when infrastructure is down, allowing civilians to send messages requesting for help.

Similarly, DroneAid acts as an aerial scout for first responders. It makes use of machine learning to detect calls for help on the ground placed by those in need.

here’s how you can participate.

Feeling inspired already? Click here to register and find out more! Entry submissions close on 11 June, with the Grand Finals scheduled on 25 June this year.


Enjoyed this story? Find out how these students created the perfect sustainable world on Minecraft or learn how to create a smart home here.

brintha loganathan

Apart from being futr Singapore's editor, Brin also churns out copy for Strada Visual Lab. Hobbies include mothering, "reality TV" and good beer. Mmm.

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