Facebook, Microsoft partner with WHO for coronavirus hackathon

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the opening keynote introducing new Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram privacy features at the Facebook F8 Conference at McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California on April 30, 2019.

Amy Osborne | AFP | Getty Images

The World Health Organization has partnered with Facebook, Microsoft and several other tech companies for a hackathon to promote the development of software to take on challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The #BuildforCOVID19 hackathon was announced on Tuesday and will begin accepting project submissions on Thursday. Along with Facebook and Microsoft, tech companies Twitter, WeChat, TikTok, Pinterest, Slack and Giphy are also participating. The tech companies “will be sharing resources to support participants throughout the submission period.”

Facebook “features like Blood Donations and Crisis Response were first built during hackathons and are now used by millions of people worldwide,” wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post promoting the hackathon. “I’m hopeful that some useful prototypes and ideas will come out of this one as well.”

The hackathon is encouraging software developers to build projects focused around the themes of health, vulnerable populations, businesses, community, education and entertainment.

The deadline to submit projects is Monday. The hackathon will announce the top projects on April 3.

“Given the isolation currently being experienced within communities right now, we want to create an online space where developers could ideate, experiment and build software solutions to help address this crisis,” reads a description of the hackathon.

Around the world, there are more than 375,498 cases of the coronavirus with at least 16,362 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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