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SCDF And IBM Organised Lifesavers' Innovation Challenge for Emergency Response Solutions
17 June 2020


SCDF and IBM jointly organised the “SCDF x IBM Lifesavers’ Innovation Challenge: Call For Code 2020”. As part of this challenge, a 48-hour virtual hackathon was held from 12 to 14 June. Teams comprising tertiary students competed by leveraging technology and designing solutions to address the future challenges of emergency response and civil defence in Singapore. They did so by utilising Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Internet-of-Things capabilities from IBM’s cloud technology.

The participating teams had to develop innovative solutions based on one of four problem statements. These statements revolved around the themes of ‘Emergency Medical Services’, ‘Climate Change’, ‘Integrating with a Smart Environment’, and ‘Preventing the Spread’. 

This year, a record number of 370 teams comprising 1244 students from junior colleges, polytechnics and universities competed in the challenge. Due to the virtual nature of the hackathon, students currently based abroad had the  opportunity to compete too. 

The champion team will receive a cash prize of SGD$10,000 while the remaining top four teams will receive a total cash prize of SGD$11,000. All five winning teams will have internship opportunities with SCDF, in addition to the USD$600,000 worth of cloud credits IBM is sponsoring to implement their solutions. The winners will be crowned tentatively in August 2020.

Going Virtual

The “SCDF X IBM Lifesavers’ Innovation Challenge: Call For Code 2020” was initially planned as a physical engagement. It included SCDF’s immersion programme, IBM’s coding seminars and the hackathon itself. However, due to the COVID-19

pandemic, the entire engagement was brought online to ensure the safety of the participants.

SCDF and IBM adapted the programme to retain the immersive and informative experience for the participants. SCDF’s immersion programme was broadcasted ‘live’ on Facebook, where participants engaged with SCDF officers on the organisation’s scope of work, operational challenges, and use of technology. Video tutorials were created specifically for IBM’s coding seminars that were hosted online. For the hackathon itself, an online community for the participants was created on Slack. This allowed them to communicate with one another and with the organisers, akin to a physical event.

About the SCDF Lifesavers’ Innovation Challenge

The SCDF Lifesavers’ Innovation Challenge, first held in 2018, is an annual hackathon held by SCDF to encourage  members of the public to innovate solutions to tackle various issues relating to emergency response and civil defence in Singapore. The challenge also acts as a platform for SCDF to leverage technology to enhance its operational capabilities and efficiency.

The winning solutions from past years’ challenges were innovative and technologically advanced. An example was the Breathing Observation Attachment created by a team from the Singapore University of Technology and Design, whereby a smart IoT-based (Internet-of-Things) solution can be used to automate air management during prolonged firefighting operations. Another example by a team from Nanyang Technological University combined crowdsourcing with gamification in the use of an Automated External Defibrillator to increase public participation in saving life.

Locally, SCDF and IBM have been long-term partners. This year, both organisations worked together to organise a local challenge, the "SCDF x IBM Lifesavers' Innovation Challenge: Call For Code 2020". The aim is to spread awareness and involve more Singaporeans in #TechForGood, by ideating and co-creating applications using cutting-edge technology to make Singapore a better and safer place together.

In support of SG Together

In the spirit of SG Together, the virtual hackathon allowed citizens to be engaged and to participate in harnessing technology to shape the future of emergency response in Singapore. The most innovative and best solutions from the challenge will be taken further for exploration, trials and potential implementation. This inaugural collaboration with IBM further positions SCDF at the new frontier of challenges and opportunities, innovating towards a safer and more informed future.