World Health Organization, Tech Cos. Team Up on #BuildForCOVID19 Global Hackathon

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The World Health Organization is going hacking.

The WHO is teaming up with tech companies including Facebook, Giphy, Microsoft, Pinterest, Slack, Slow Ventures, TikTok, Twitter and WeChat, as well as scientists from the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub and experts from other industries, on the #BuildForCOVID19 global hackathon.

The hackathon, which starts Thursday (March 26), is aimed at finding local and global solutions in the following seven focus areas:

  • Health: Address and scale a range of health initiatives, including preventative/hygiene behaviors (especially for at-risk countries and populations), supporting front-line health workers, scaling telemedicine, contact tracing/containment strategies, treatment and diagnosis development.
  • Vulnerable Populations: The set of problems facing the elderly and the immuno-compromised, such as access to meals and groceries, and supporting those who are losing jobs and income.
  • Businesses: The set of problems that businesses are facing to stay afloat, collaborate effectively and move parts of their business online.
  • Community: Promoting connection to friends, family and neighbors to combat social isolation and the digitizing of public services for local governments.
  • Education: Alternative learning environments and tools for students, teachers and entire school systems.
  • Entertainment: Alternatives to traditional forms of entertainment that can keep the talent and audiences safe and healthy.
  • Other: The above themes are just suggestions. Feel empowered to get creative.

Project submission will be accepted through March 30 at 9 a.m.PT/noon ET, and judges will reveal the highlighted projects April 3.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post, “Hackathons have always been an important part of how we come up with new ideas and projects at Facebook—features like Blood Donations and Crisis Response were first built during hackathons and are now used by millions of people worldwide. I’m hopeful that some useful prototypes and ideas will come out of this one as well. #BuildForCOVID19 is open to anyone who wants to participate, and I encourage all of you who can to join.”

TikTok U.S. head of product Sean Kim said in a blog post, “Developers have the opportunity to address a variety of needs, including ideas for our front-line health workers, digital tools that keep us informed and vigilant, solutions for vulnerable populations, alternative learning environments, new opportunities for small businesses and creative ways to stay connected with our broader communities. We’re excited to see what the developer community will create in order to respond to the needs identified by the WHO, being sure to develop technological innovations that are timely, helpful and relevant.”

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