Call for Code

EthiXtension wins Call For Code 2021 ANZ Hackathon!!

Author: Ally Haire, Developer Advocate, Hybrid Cloud Build Team, IBM

The Cause

“What humans do over the next 50 years will determine the fate of all life on the planet” – David Attenborough

This powerful call-to-action to build a more positive and sustainable future is the driving force behind Call For Code.

Founded by David Clark in 2018, Call For Code is the largest international tech for good challenge of its kind. Partnering with IBM, the United Nations and Linux Foundation, the Global Challenge brings together participants from across 179 nations. Passionate innovators, change-makers and the 24 million strong developer community collaborate to design and build innovative solutions to address some of the world’s biggest challenges.

Celebrating its 4th anniversary, Call For Code 2021 is focused on collectively tackling the impacts of climate change in three main areas:

  • Clean water and sanitation
  • Zero hunger
  • Responsible production and green consumption

The Event

Collaboration in the covid-age can be a challenging proposition, but it can also be an opportunity to go beyond our own geography and to truly be part of a global community. With the help of some awesome tech, the A/NZ, UK and France teams combined to answer the call, hosting a fully virtual weekend hackathon on the 5th and 6th of June.

Hackathons are truly unique events – they inspire participants to think outside the box and deliver an energetic, positive and fun environment that supports a free flow of innovation and ideas. From learning and applying new skills, to meeting and networking with like-minded individuals, and building out and deploying solutions to change the world, hackathons offer a multitude of positive opportunities for everyone involved. As Alex Kern is well quoted “Hackathons are where your crazy ideas become reality”, and this year’s Call For Code hackathon was no exception.

Let’s Get Hacking!

To kick off the event, Ben Peterson [Ecosystems Leader ANZ] shared his tips for building cross-functional diverse teams, his passion for sustainability and his strong belief in how innovation and collaboration at events like Call For Code can help shape our future.

Call for code- June

The Call For Code ANZ-UK-France hackathon used timezones and tech – with our awesome virtual venue – to our advantage, giving participants an authentic hackathon atmosphere with no-borders access to fellow change-makers, mentors, workshops and resources all day and night across the 48 hour event.

Throughout the first day, speakers from across the globe delivered workshops to help get teams thinking about tech architecture, product development and ways to take their climate-action solutions to scale, showcasing the diverse range and functionality of IBM technology and sparking fresh ideas.

Some of my favourite sessions included:

  • A Design Thinking workshop by Leon Gouletsas [IBM Garage Design Lead] tailored to applying the Design Thinking Principles for Call For Code. 
  • A lively demo from DeveloperSteve [Snyk Developer Advocate & ardent Call For Code supporter] on the node-red based Zero Hunger Starter Kit – built to improve access to food and determine its quality.
  • A dynamic workshop from Michelle Mannering [Github Advocate ANZ] on using Github like a pro
  • A live walkthrough of using Pandas on IBM Cloud from Yamini Rao [IBM Developer Advocate UK]
  • A useful quick start guide to integrating the Telstra messaging API with IBM Cloud and IOT from Michelle Howie [TelstraDev Advocate]
  • A value-packed stream from Georges-Henri Moll & Xavier Rey-Robert [IBM Developer Advocates France] on all three of the Call For Code starter kits – designed to give Call For Coders a quick start to solution building, and
  • Ed Shee [IBM Developer Advocate UK] showing us how to use Natural Language Processing and IBM Watson

Throughout the event, the participants continued hacking, with mentors providing insights, inspiration and valuable guidance throughout the day and night, validating and helping build out their tech for good ideas.

The sun rose on the second day in our virtual venue, bringing with it a hive of activity as teams prepared final edits, and refinements to their solutions and got in some pitch practice as the submission deadline loomed.

Finally, tools-down was called, and the participants were ready to showcase their solutions to our Call For Code judges!

Pitching begins!

Our judging panel consisted of the insightful and philanthropic Steve King from Atlassian, business expert and tech for good supporter Prasad Mucherla from IngramMicro, Indigepreneur and Barayamal founder Dean Foley and enablement leader Natalie Gunn from IBM. The diverse judging line-up brought a wealth of experience, perspectives on scaling solutions for consumers and businesses as well as some valued feedback and support to the participants.

Call for code Judges

During the pitches, the teams showcased exciting visions for the future and impressed the judges with the calibre of entries. After much deliberation in the judges room, with participants eagerly awaiting the results, the top 3 teams were announced!

The runners up awards went to Farmers Friend – whose solution leveraged Digital Twin technology to solve for food source reliability problems, and to EmergentSeafood – with an idea to utilise the increased knowledge in marine and new technologies to empower people with a new sustainable food source while also facilitating environmental conservation through carbon-capture.

Coming in on the winners podium, and taking out first place of our weekend hackathon was (drumroll…) EthiXtension!  

With the judges describing the idea as “…simple, scalable and able to have a big impact on our everyday sustainability efforts”, the EthiXtension team – which included participants returning to compete again from last year’s hack – created a browser extension designed to agnostically pass on supply chain transparency and trust to online shoppers. Inspired by IBM’s Food Trust project, the team utilised IBM Cloud and Watson AI tooling to make it easy for consumers to choose sustainable and ethical products when shopping online. 

Where to now?

This hackathon was the first step for the teams in their journey to the global finals, and the top 3 teams will now go on to work with IBM mentors to help refine and build their ideas & solutions for submission to the Global Call For Code Challenge – where last year the Australian team Business Buddy placed second amongst over 400,000 entries worldwide.

With the Global Call For Code Challenge still open until the 31st July, we’re calling on all developers, innovators and change-makers to take action and join a movement to push for change, because in the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Congratulations to the EthiXtension team and to all the amazing change-makers that participated! We’re looking forward to seeing how your ideas progress and how far you’ll go in the global challenge.

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