Fueling innovative software
July 15-18, 2019
Portland, OR

The role of open source in mitigating natural disasters (sponsored by IBM)

Pedro Cruz (IBM ), Brad Topol (IBM)
9:50am10:00am Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Location: Portland Ballroom
Average rating: ****.
(4.67, 9 ratings)

Many IBM products and offerings have a solid foundation of open source. This philosophy is seen in IBM’s Developer Engagement Program, where all materials created for developers adhere to the best standards and practices of open source. In 2018, together with the Linux Foundation, IBM announced Call for Code, a worldwide, multiyear developer competition dedicated to creating and deploying open source technologies to tackle natural disasters and their consequences.

Pedro Cruz and Brad Topol explore the intersection between open source and natural disasters. One of the teams that contributed to the 2018 challenge is DroneAid, a two-part solution that uses a visual recognition to detect SOS messages and universal aid symbols (symbols for water, food, etc.). Pedro, who founded DroneAid, is an aerial scout for first responders. After a natural disaster, a drone collects aerial imagery, and then it’s processed through the visual recognition engine and reported to first responders. You can get involved in Call for Code at Developer.ibm.com/callforcode.

This keynote is sponsored by IBM.

Photo of Pedro Cruz

Pedro Cruz


Pedro Cruz is a developer advocate at IBM, a creative technologist, and an educator. He’s a self-taught developer with a passion for creating educational virtual reality (VR)/augmented reality (AR) apps, designing pixel-perfect UIs, and working on AI for Good. After surviving Hurricane Maria in 2017, he created DroneAid, an aerial scout for first responders that uses drones and artificial intelligence, to detect SOS messages in natural disasters. His work was featured in Code & Response and a feature-length documentary and at IBM’s THINK Conference 2019. During the weekends, he organizes workshops and hackathons for audiences ranging from K–12 students to professional developers. In the past three years, he’s founded several successful meetups in Puerto Rico, with over 1,000 members, such as LinkPR (blockchain education), AprendeVR (K–12 STEAM bootcamp), and StoryCodePR (VR/AR). In his spare time, he enjoys traveling to remote locations to fly drones, creating augmented reality art, and running marathons with his black Lab puppy.

Photo of Brad Topol

Brad Topol


Brad Topol is an IBM distinguished engineer, leading efforts focused on open technologies and developer advocacy. Brad is a Kubernetes contributor, serves as a member of the Kubernetes Conformance Workgroup, and is a Kubernetes documentation maintainer. Previously, he was a member of the OpenStack Foundation board of directors, an OpenStack core contributor, and the project lead for the OpenStack Interoperability Challenge effort. Brad is a coauthor of Identity, Authentication, and Access Management in OpenStack by O’Reilly.