Plateau State Sets Aside N350,000 Cash Prize for COVID-19 Solution

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Emma Okonji

The Plateau State government has announced a ‘Developers Challenge’ programme to support software developers to find solutions to a variety of problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the state government, the winners of the ‘Developers Challenge’ would go home with a total sum of N350, 000 cash prizes in different categories. The first position goes home with N200, 000 cash, while the second and the third positions go home with N100, 000 and N50, 000 cash prizes respectively.

To participate, interested software developers are encouraged to connect to the link, https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScaniWMRywbwwQeqJXu_M2H-uD_TZReDFICJu2mIO6GxUJNBg/viewform?usp=pp_url

The programme is designed to help software developers in the state to develop software solutions that will stop the spread of the virus. The move is coming at a time when the number of infected persons and recorded deaths relating to the Coronavirus, is on the increase, according to the figures released by World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

While the medical community is rushing to search for solutions to the spread of the disease with a big push for vaccine and medicine research, big ICT companies and the tech communities are also upping their game to save humanity from the dreaded virus.

Citing a recent report that technology has a history of helping the medical industry track and treat viruses, the state government said a more recent example is flu tracking, where the US experienced a particularly severe flu season. During this time aggregated user data collected through Kinsa’s smart connected thermometers indicated illness spikes across the country.”

Plateau State government said although the state had no record of COVID-19 case, even though the surrounding states have laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus, it would continue to explore possible ways of preventing the spread of the virus in the state.

The Director General of Plateau State Information and Communication Development Agency (PICTDA), Mr. Daser David, said: “Plateau State government believes that policy, technology, the medical industry and communities must be fully mobilised to halt the spread of the disease.”

He added: “Governor Simon Lalong is a firm believer in the power of technology and is totally committed to getting all stakeholders including the medical and technology communities to find solutions that will not only raise awareness on COVID-19, but offer new approaches and quick actions to addressing crisis situations, like the current one related to the coronavirus.”

The ‘Plateau COVID-19 Developers Challenge’ is open for participation to all developers in the provision of solutions for saving lives, communities, and businesses. The COVID Challenge is seeking to get Nigeria’s tech community offer solutions round defeating COVID-19 on three focus areas that capture the global challenge of: Saving lives; Saving communities; and Saving businesses.

Like the rest of world, Plateau State, and indeed, all of Nigeria, is not silent on finding a solution, David stressed.

“Apple launched a COVID-19 website and corresponding app. The new site “an Apple health check”, which serves as both a screening tool and information platform, was born out of collaboration with the CDC, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and FEMA. Users are able to go onto the site and answer a list of questions including symptoms, risk factors and exposure. At the end of the survey users are given a directive about possible next steps.

With COVID-19 pandemic not abetting, the digital health community has released a slew of new tools aiming to monitor the spread of the disease and facilitate better treatment. Tech giants Facebook, Amazon and Google are already talking with the WHO to help combat the spread of disease, as well as address misinformation.

“We strongly believe that through the ‘Plateau COVID-19 Developers Challenge, we can stir our young people’s resourcefulness and sense of innovation to provide solutions that raise awareness on the pandemic, help to manage misinformation, and provide real-time answers to medical personnel in kicking out the coronavirus including reducing their exposures to the disease,” David said.