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Counting Down: Clash of the Coders Project Supports The Carter Center


Cama Gebhart

Since 2012, we have hosted an annual Clash of the Coders event to give our developers the opportunity to dive deep into new technology and their own creativity. During this 72-hour competition, teams of Nerds battle in a head-to-head test of app development skills and coffee consumption. Members of the winning team earn fame, ultimate Nerd bragging rights and their choice of Nerdy technology.

At the second Clash of the Coders in the spring of 2013, Galvin Butler came up with the idea to develop an Android app for The Carter Center’s Guinea worm disease eradication initiative. The Guinea worm disease, which can cause skin lesions, pain and even permanent disability, is caused by a parasite in contaminated drinking water. There is no drug treatment for the Guinea worm disease, nor a vaccine to prevent it.

We sat down with Galvin to learn more about The Carter Center’s initiative and how the launch of the app, Guinea Worm: Countdown to Zero, will help generate awareness about the incurable, parasitic disease.

Guinea Worm Countdown to Zero app

Big Nerd Ranch: Hi Galvin, great work on the app. First things first: Tell us about your 2013 Clash team.

Galvin: We called ourselves King Desmond and the Accelerators. (It’s the name of a Dub Reggae band the mayor in Portlandia secretly plays bass in.) I was joined by Thomas Ward, Christian Keur and Stafford Brooke

BNR: Tell us about the app you created.

Galvin: The app was created in collaboration with The Carter Center to let users track the last remaining Guinea worm cases, and get information about the disease. Users can also learn about the methods used to eradicate it and The Carter Center itself.

Countdown to Zero info

BNR: Why is it important for people to be aware of this disease? Why do people need to know that it’s being eradicated?

Galvin: The Guinea worm disease will be the second human disease ever to be eradicated (smallpox is the first). Additionally, the Guinea worm disease will be the first parasitic disease to be eradicated—and the first disease to be eradicated without the use of a vaccine or medicine.

I wanted to raise awareness about the disease and the efforts of The Carter Center, which uses community-based interventions to educate and change the behavior of people in high-risk areas.

And because the Center is local to Atlanta, I thought it would be a great opportunity to connect with them on this idea. I wanted to create the app because there is a need to generate awareness about this parasite, a need that an informative app can help solve by educating others. Many people don’t know about Guinea Worm, nor do they know how close it is to being eradicated. This app is a good starting point to understanding the disease and how it is being eradicated.

BNR: Where did your interest in supporting disease eradication come from?

Galvin: I’ve always been interested in volunteer work that enables me to utilize my talents and support a cause with a sustainable impact. Guinea Worm is perhaps the most sustainable of diseases to be eradicated because it requires a human host to survive, unlike smallpox, which can be kept alive in a petri dish.

BNR: How long did it take you to finish the app?

Galvin: The bulk of the effort was done during last year’s Clash of the Coders, but I continued to work on it in my spare time. I put in somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 hours.

BNR: Tells us about the apps you’ve created during other years of Clash.

Galvin: The first year, I made a kind of “musical instrument” (if you could call it that), where the user could throw a tennis ball around to vary pitch and volume. The second year was the Guinea Worm: Countdown to Zero app, and most recently my team made a multi-platform (Android, iOS and Google Glass) Big Nerd Ranch-themed version of Doge 2048.

BNR: Thanks for sharing about your app and experience at Clash of the Coders, Galvin! We’re certainly looking forward to the 2015 Clash of the Coders.

In the history of Clash of the Coders, the Guinea Worm: Countdown to Zero app is the first to be developed and launched for a third party. The app is a true testament of the core values that our Nerds embody: being kind, hard-working and brilliant.

The Carter Center just announced the latest number of Guinea worm cases and the launch of Guinea Worm: Countdown to Zero app.

Since 1986, The Carter Center has led the international campaign to eradicate Guinea worm disease, working closely with ministries of health and local communities, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and many others.


Cama Gebhart

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