Last week, the inaugural event for Call for Code Geneva was hosted by the United Nations Humans Rights Office. At this event, four challenges were tackled, all related to natural disasters. In this blog series, we will be interviewing four participants to share their first hand experiences. Read my previous interview with Julian van Velzen here. In this blog, I interview Rabia Mahmood, a Senior Software Engineer at Lloyds Banking Group in London, United Kingdom.
What’s your motivation to participate in Call for Code Geneva?
“There may be a moment in your life that you realize that it’s not just about the skill set that you have – it’s about giving back, it’s about staying in touch with the human species that we are and all the problems that we collectively suffer. And I think we should also try to solve these problems collectively. So that’s why it feels very intimate to be part of Call for Code.”
Call for Code is all about preparing for natural disasters. Is there a natural disaster that impacted you or people close to you?
“Not a natural disaster in particular. But I grew up in Pakistan where I witnessed political and secretarial violence first hand. So working on a challenge to prepare for disasters in regards to humanitarian rights is an emotional topic for me. It’s great that in this way I can help people that don’t have the means or the skill set to be able to do anything.”
Accountability and Centrality of Protection for Affected Populations is the challenge you were working on. Can you talk about what it entails?
“People who are affected by humanitarian crises should have the opportunity to participate in decision making, provide feedback to aid workers, and make complaints about human rights violations. In addition, emergency responders need to be able to identify human rights violations and use relevant human rights guidance when they are building and implementing their response following a natural disaster.”
That sounds like a real challenge. How did you and your team decided to approach it?
“We thought about the most vulnerable people who are stuck in a humanitarian crisis. We want to give them a voice that’s confidential and safe so the UN can use their data to bring certain perpetrators to justice. We also want to provide social facilitation feeding back into the community to encourage other people to speak up as well.”
What was your personal experience at this event?
“It was great that I could be involved in a project like this. It was a very human-oriented project and I was honored I could bring my skill set for this challenge.”
What advice do you have for developers who would like to take your solution to the next level?
“We presented our starter kit to the panel at Geneva and they were very receptive to the idea, so I think we started on the right foot. There may be things we didn’t think about, so don’t be shy to add your own perspective to the situation. I would be very excited to see how others will develop and expand our solution!”
Would you like to know more about the challenge of Rabia’s team? Visit the solution starter kit: https://developer.ibm.com/callforcode/starters/protect/
Rabia has also written a short update on LinkedIn here.