Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Save lives with code (and The Red Cross)

Being developers, we find ourselves in a unique position of being able to create whatever our minds can imagine. Usually, it's the lack of ideas holding us back, not the technical skills or willingness to contribute. When I teach kids to program, I explain this to them by telling them I have a superpower. My superpower is that any idea my mind is able to form, I can make alive through technology.

Developers use their skills as a source of income and as a personal hobby, and some hope to one day be able to create something so genious they will become the next Zuckerberg. Most of us have side-projects, it could be maintaining a website for their kids soccer team or working on an open source project. But have you ever thought that you, as a developer, could save lives?

I have always admired those who help save lives, those whose mission in life is to make the world a better place. I had the honor of meeting some of them today, at the Norwegian Red Cross offices here in Oslo. During the cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone in 2012, they realized the need for a community based surveillance system to identify, alert and respond to public health crisis. With over 17 million local volunteers worldwide, being able to gather real-time information on anything from possible symptoms of an outbreak to concrete observations of an epidemic can enable the Red Cross to provide help a lot faster, thus preventing further outbreaks. Since 2012, the concept of community based surveillance (CBS) developed into a working prototype that is now ready to be taken to the next level.

In the true spirit of the Red Cross, version 2 of CBS will be created through volunteers. In other words, with the help of developers like you and me. We have the chance to help save lives!

The Red Cross, with the help of a core team of developers and architects, has set up a 3-day Codeathon from September 29th - October 1st where we aim at creating a "minimum viable product" we can continue to build on in an open-source fashion. I have been invited into the core team, whose responsibility is to define the initial architecture of the system, oversee development and build a developer community around the project. If we succeed, we have the opportunity to grow this into a global developer-driven initiative.

As far as I know, this is the first volunteer-based software development project of its sort in Norway, and I am very honored and excited to be part of it. That being said, I am also terrified of the challenge that lies ahead of us, and that is why I hope you are still reading this blog post. Because we need developers to join us. We need developers who see the value of the knowledge they possess, who want to learn even more and who want to contribute to the greater good. That could be you! The expertise needed is varied, please take to look at the detailed experience we are looking for here: https://www.rodekors.no/en/codeathon2017/#codeexperience

For more information about CBS and to register for the codeathon, see here: https://www.rodekors.no/en/codeathon2017/

Are you not able to join the codeathon? Don't worry, we will need inspired developers after the codeathon as well. And don't forget: you can help by sharing this with your friends and colleagues. 

No comments:

Post a Comment