AWS, IBM launch programs to encourage developers solving COVID-19 problems

Ron Miller

As society comes to grips with the growing worldwide crisis related to the COVID-19 virus, many companies are stepping up in different ways. Today, two major tech companies -- Amazon and IBM -- each announced programs to encourage developers to find solutions to a variety of problems related to the pandemic.

For starters, AWS, Amazon's cloud arm, announced the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative. It has set aside $20 million, which it will distribute in the form of AWS credits and technical support. The program is designed to assist and encourage teams working on COVID-19 diagnostic issues with the goal of developing better diagnostic tooling.

"In our Amazon Web Services (AWS) business, one area where we have heard an urgent need is in the research and development of diagnostics, which consist of rapid, accurate detection and testing of COVID-19. Better diagnostics will help accelerate treatment and containment, and in time, shorten the course of this epidemic," Teresa Carlson wrote in the company's Day One blog today.

The program aims to help customers who are working on building diagnostics solutions to bring products to market more quickly, and also encourage teams working on related problems to work together.

The company also announced it was forming an advisory group made up of scientists and health policy experts to assist companies involved with initiative.

Meanwhile, IBM is refocusing its 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge developer contest on not only solving problems related to global climate change, which was this year's original charter, but also solving issues around the growing virus crisis by building open-source tooling.

"In a very short period of time, COVID-19 has revealed the limits of the systems we take for granted. The 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge will arm you with resources [...] to build open source technology solutions that address three main COVID-19 areas: crisis communication during an emergency, ways to improve remote learning, and how to inspire cooperative local communities," the company wrote in a blog post.

All of these areas are being taxed as more people are forced to stay indoors as we to try to contain the virus. The company hopes to incentivize developers working on these issues to help solve some of these problems.

During a time of extreme social and economic upheaval when all aspects of society are being affected, businesses, academia and governments need to work together to solve the myriad problems related to the virus. These are just a couple of examples of that.