Facebook, Microsoft, TikTok partner with WHO for coronavirus hackathon

The goal is to build tech solutions for challenges related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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A nurse prepares to give a coronavirus swab test at a drive-thru testing station in Stamford, Connecticut.

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Facebook , Microsoft , TikTok and several other tech companies are partnering with the World Health Organization and other health experts for #BuildforCOVID19, a global hackathon that aims to find software solutions for challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic

In a post Tuesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he's hopeful that useful prototypes and ideas will come out of the effort. "Hackathons have always been an important part of how we come up with new ideas and projects at Facebook," Zuckerberg wrote, "Features like Blood Donations and Crisis Response were first built during hackathons," 

Other companies supporting the hackathon include Slack, Pinterest, Twitter, WeChat, Giphy and Slow Ventures. 

COVID-19, the disease caused by a newly identified coronavirus, has rapidly spread across the globe. The World Health Organization on March 11 declared the outbreak a pandemic, saying it expected to see the number of cases and deaths continue climbing. As of Wednesday, there were more than 55,000 cases of coronavirus in the US.

The WHO and other experts will provide guidance on what projects could deliver the most impact and address key needs during the outbreak. Developers are encouraged to build projected focused around the themes of health, vulnerable populations, businesses, community, education and entertainment.

The hackathon will accept submissions March 26-30, and the top projects will be announced on April 3. 

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