Your digital superpowers are needed – to help your fellow human beings after disaster strikes

Share this post:

You wake up cold and stiff. Your bed is nothing more than a blanket spread across the ground, and the cold morning air chills you to the bone. Your body is stiff and your head is spinning. Your throat is parched and your stomach churns from hunger. Where am I? What do I do now? Everything you once knew is now gone, and nothing remains but a feeling of deep emptiness and loss.

All people who find themselves forced to flee for one reason or another do so out of absolute necessity. Staying put is not an option, and flight is the only alternative that remains. Being forced to flee, to leave behind your home and possessions, and in some cases, your family members, to venture out into the unknown; this is one of the most traumatic experiences a human being can face, whether it be due to war, natural disaster or other circumstances.

We are now being inundated with news of disasters and wars driving thousands of people from their homelands. Here in Sweden, it can be hard to relate to the drama and pain associated with this experience. Sometimes we choose not to understand, or simply to look away. Sometimes we would like to help in some way, but it can be hard to know exactly what you can do or how to help.

IBM acknowledges its responsibility as a company, but we can all contribute

We can all contribute in some way. One thing we can do is to invest the most valuable thing we have in the Western World today: time and knowledge. Taking the time to understand challenges and applying our knowledge to find solutions to problems is one of the most powerful things we can do.

IBM is driven by a strong commitment to social engagement. For more than 100 years, we have been working to earn and maintain the trust of our customers, employees and society as a whole. But being such a large business, we also need to take responsibility. IBM is one of the world’s largest research companies, with an enormous potential to create innovations that will not only benefit our customers, but the planet as a whole. Being able to do this is more than a source of pride, we see it as our duty, and this commitment has shaped the way we do business.

Those of us working in digital technology also have a unique opportunity to contribute by working in a relatively abstract way to achieve concrete goals. For example, by using our coding and design expertise to turn a good idea into a concrete solution that can help a fellow human being survive in the midst of flight and continue his or her life when starting over from scratch. We have always based our efforts in this area on the needs of the individual who will use our solutions.

IBM also works to make our world a little better by participating in global programs and projects and through our wonderful employees, who also serve as volunteers across the globe. Here in Sweden, perhaps our most important focus area is the reduction of exclusion and increased integration. During 2015 and 2016 we experienced a large number of new arrivals fleeing their homelands. This resulted in IBM in collaboration with the Red Cross to create an application and our own volunteers to help make things a little easier for new arrivals.

Call for Code, an opportunity for you to make a difference

– Not through contributions and money, but by using your most valuable asset: your time and knowledge.

2019’s Call for Code is just that; a challenge to all developers, designers and others who are able to make the world a better place on a local and global level by creating digital solutions; to support individuals, families and communities by mitigating the effects of natural disasters. Last year, a number of good ideas were brought to life. For example, there is the mesh network which is designed to be used when communication fails during natural disasters, such as during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017. Then there is the system that uses IBM Watson’s visual recognition to determine whether a building can be salvaged or is too dangerous to occupy after an earthquake. There is an IoT system to track forest fires, to name just a few examples. All of the above projects have been taken a step further to become concrete solutions, which now save lives and help alleviate human suffering.

Read more about the winning projects from Call for Code 2018

Take the challenge!

Go to the international Call for Code community and choose a solution area that is important to you. Have a fully realized idea ready before July 29 when we will receive the proposals. Then, the winning team and four semi-finalists will be announced in October. At stake is the opportunity to see your solution come into use with IBM CSR Corps, the continuation of your application at the Linux Foundation and USD 200,000 in prize money for your efforts.

100,000 developers and designers from 156 countries contributed to the creation of a slightly better world during Call for Code 2018; will you be one of those who takes the challenge this year?

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of us at or

Head of Startup with IBM accelerator Sweden

Magnus Dahlhjelm

Creative Director, Studio Lead, IBM iX

More Innovation stories

Disrupt your industry with a circular business strategy

Many companies have all the customer instruments in place that is needed to transform their business to a circular business model in my opinion. It is therefore a question of reorganizing the customer instruments, to reap the savings circular modelling represents.

Continue reading

The right technology with the wrong culture is not enough – both should be addressed for successful application modernization programs

Technology is only part of the work of modernizing applications. Culture and attitudes also need to be considered, as well as business models that legacy applications were built around. If not all pieces are addressed, you will not get the full value of modernizing applications. Working deeply in this area at IBM, I (Derek Barclay) […]

Continue reading

Blockchain collaboration in the food industry

The IBM Food Trust is now making the first Swedish blockchain beer available, in which the entire production process can be verified and tracked. The production is by Ängölbrewery and the project Helt Spårat has been possible through the traceability integrator Foodchain by Blockchain and the trading platform Skira. The purpose is to be able […]

Continue reading