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Building Sustainable Ecosystems: Innovation



In the 1600s, the concept of “innovation” was controversial. It stood for resistance, rebellion and contrarian opinions. Thankfully, the definition of innovation has evolved. One of the definitions for innovation is the desire and ambition to leverage technology to solve problems for people. As the definition of innovation has evolved, so has the approach to solving the problems at hand. Innovation is not driven by a brilliant individual or a team locked in a lab running experiments. Instead, it is driven by the global community of problem solvers that are coming together to tackle the challenges of the present. Let me share more about the role innovation plays as a critical pillar –in addition to community and education– in helping develop a healthy tech ecosystem.

We deeply believe Facebook’s own growth was the result of our effort to innovate and disrupt ourselves. Our ten-year roadmap enables innovation in three distinct phases:

  1. First, we build new technologies that can help people share and connect in new ways.
  2. Next, we take that technology and build it into a product that billions of people can use and benefit from.
  3. Finally, once a product is at scale, we build a full ecosystem around that for developers, businesses and partners.

I am excited about the experiences being created leveraging those products and in particular in places where the number of challenges outside the availability of sustainable solutions. Africa is one such region with incredible opportunities for both people and innovators alike. Here are some creative ways partners are leveraging our products to solve challenges across verticals with technology:

FBS is an international forex broker present in more than 190 countries with over 13 million traders and 370,000 partners. FBS receives a number of queries on a range of topics everyday. Customers contact them with sales enquiries such as quotes about rates between currencies and customer service issues. They needed a platform to unify their customer service across multiple Facebook pages and languages. A key challenge they faced was their ability to support 13 languages and efficiently route the messages to the right people in the multilingual team. Due to the nature of the business i.e., the fluctuations in foreign exchange, they needed to respond very quickly to their customer’s trading and service enquiries to avoid undue losses.

They partnered with Ongair, a Kenya based Messenger platform development provider that enables businesses to manage customer interactions across multiple social channels, including Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. They aggregated all customer service and sales inquiries from their country specific Facebook accounts into a single platform via messenger. They also deployed a bot that understands the user’s language to then respond back in the appropriate language and also hand over the conversation to an agent who speaks the same language. Prior to this, a multilingual team had to triage customer requests leading to inefficient delays in responses or incorrect assignment for resolution. Today, Ongair agents are automatically assigned tickets based on the customer languages they can speak leading to faster and more accurate responses. Through this partnership, FBS has been able to greatly increase their first response time and improve customer satisfaction.

TrepLabs is a team of young college students on a mission to make affordable medical devices. With a proof of concept in hand, their goal was to build a prototype of their first product RealDrip, a non-invasive device which makes blood transfusion and drip treatment simpler and safer by continuously monitoring the flow rate, volume administered and automating the treatment process.

As part of the Facebook Accelerator program, the engineering support and guidance they received helped create a device that leverages the IoT technology to eliminate the guesswork in setting IV flow rate, monitoring dosages and time taken as indicated on the treatment plan. In addition, GraphQL APIs’ help create visual displays via mobile and web dashboard showing the flow rate in real time to keep health professionals informed about each patient’s specific medical situation. Since their participation in the Facebook Accelerator program, they have developed a working prototype which has been patented. They have raised $62,778 in grant funding, have 27 clinics on a waiting list, secured ethical approval from the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) and are awaiting approvals for clinical trials.

And finally, Cellulant a digital payment platform from the region shared with us recently about how they have used Facebook APIs to enable micro merchants and revolutionize the try before you buy customer experience in categories like home goods, make-up and more, all serving as critical & incremental steps in helping build businesses.

The successes shared above only scratch the surface of the potential that exists. As i’ve shared previously, we believe in the importance of investing in all the 3 key pillars –innovation, education, community— for building a sustainable developer ecosystem. I am confident that these continued investments will spark more innovation, energize economies, create new jobs, improve communities, and drive positive social impact around the globe.

Facebook Developers

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Winners of our first Facebook Online Hackathon announced



Expanding on our annual Developer Circles Community Challenge and the in-person hackathons we held across North America last year, we were excited to launch our brand new Facebook Online Hackathon series for global developers earlier this month.

We know that building opportunities like hackathons are a great way for aspiring and experienced innovators to develop new skills, grow their networks and ship breakthrough solutions – whether they’re creating their first-ever coding project to showcase in a job interview, or bringing that advanced engineering idea to life.

We also know that providing special access to product resources, mentoring and trouble-shooting helps set developers up for success when applying new technologies to solve challenges. That’s why we’re committed to supporting the journey and experience of all developers on our platform.

For our first hackathon in this new series, we opened up three tech tracks for participants – Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and Messaging – and offered up to $21,000 in cash prizes, as well as the opportunity to join us at our annual developer conference, F8 2021.

Given the many social issues currently arising around coronavirus (COVID-19), we were also inspired to see developers ship a range of projects aimed at addressing some of the challenges being experienced as a result of this global pandemic.

Our winners

Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Creating intuitive solutions using PyTorch

First place ($3,000 + an invitation, flights and accommodation for F8 2021):
Torch Drowsiness Monitor
A drowsiness and attention monitor for driving featuring PyTorch’s Computer Vision

Second place ($2,500):
A radiology tool built on PyTorch supporting the COVID-19 pandemic

Third place ($1,500):
An AI-based system for recommending scientific articles

Augmented Reality (AR)
Building immersive solutions using Spark AR’s World Effects

First place ($3,000 + an invitation, flights and accommodation for F8 2021):
Rabbit Coder
An AR solution teaching programming concepts in the form of a puzzle

Second place ($2,500):
COVID-19 Coronavirus
An educational AR experience on the virus, its impact, and prevention measures

Third place ($1,500):
A gaming experience enabling users to customize and create an AR roller-coaster simulator

Empowering conversations using Messenger

First place ($3,000 + an invitation, flights and accommodation for F8 2021):
ReWise: AI-powered revision bot
An interactive Messenger bot to help students revise their coursework

Second place ($2,500):
Sign Language Dictionary Bot
A Messenger bot enabling users to upload to sign language videos for dictionary definitions

Third place ($1,500):
An online tutoring service for maths and physics delivered through Messenger

Congratulations to these inspiring innovators and thank you to everyone who participated!

New hackathons coming soon

Remember, this is just the beginning. Keep an eye out for the next online hackathon in our series by signing up for our Facebook for Developers email newsletter.

For those keen to continue building, I also wanted to let you know about another special hackathon announced yesterday.

#BuildforCOVID19 Global Online Hackathon

We’ve seen time and time again that our developer ecosystem is passionate and purposeful about leveraging technology to deliver software that builds community and solves real-world problems.

As we all consider the timely and meaningful action we can take to tackle issues related to COVID-19, there’s never been a better time for our community to ideate and innovate together.

I’d therefore like to take this opportunity to encourage as many of you as possible to join the new #BuildforCOVID19 Global Online Hackathon that is being supported by Facebook alongside other companies and platforms in the tech industry, as well as partners including the World Health Organization and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub.

Submissions for the hackathon officially open on Thursday March 26; however you are welcome to register now to start brainstorming.

Thank you again to all of our hackathon participants around the world!

Together we can achieve more.

Facebook Developers

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Pausing Individual Verification



In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Facebook has been supporting the global public health community’s work to keep people safe and informed. We’ve announced a number of actions we’re taking to make sure everyone has access to up-to-date, accurate information, as well as steps to stop misinformation and harmful content while supporting global health experts, local governments, businesses and communities.

We also recently announced we’re temporarily sending content reviewers home. We want to make sure our platform remains a safe place for people to connect during this time, but with a reduced and remote workforce, we must make temporary changes to our operations.

As a result, we’ve paused individual verification for developers. We’ll resume verification as soon as we can. Business verification will still be available. We are continuing to monitor other impacts this may have on our processes, and we’ll provide updates as the situation evolves.

While we’re working to minimize disruptions, we anticipate that this change will cause inconvenience for our developer community. We appreciate your patience and partnership as we navigate through this unprecedented time together.

Facebook Developers

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Messenger Partners with Developers to Provide Government Health Organizations with Free Services to Respond to Coronavirus Pandemic



Today, we’re announcing two initiatives to support government health organizations in combating the coronavirus pandemic. We’re partnering with our developer community to provide free services to government health organizations and UN health agencies to help them use Messenger to scale their response to the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, Argentina’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Innovation is launching a Messenger experience today to provide timely and reliable information about coronavirus. We’re also creating an online hackathon and inviting developers to build messaging solutions that address challenges related to the coronavirus such as social distancing and keeping people educated and informed.

Free Developer Resources for Government Health Organizations

Communities around the world are dealing with quarantines and other disruptions to daily life because of the coronavirus outbreak. Our mission to help people connect and be closer together is more important than ever, and it’s critical we provide people with full access to the latest and most reliable information. As is common in any crisis, people are using digital channels like Messenger to stay connected and get information from trusted health authorities that are on the front lines fighting this global pandemic.

To that end, we’re launching a global program to connect government health organizations and UN health agencies with developers that can help them use Messenger most effectively to share timely and accurate information, and speed up their responses to concerned citizens. Our developer partners have offered to provide their services free of charge to these organizations during this crisis. Developers will help with things like automating responses to commonly asked questions, which can take some of the burden off of overwhelmed staff. They’ll also show these organizations how to share updates with their audience most effectively and how to seamlessly transition from automated conversations to chatting with a live person when necessary.

Today, Argentina’s Ministry of Health is launching a Messenger experience, with support from, to answer questions from the public about the coronavirus, and to provide fast, reliable and official advice 24 hours a day. Organizations like UNICEF and Pakistan’s Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination (NHSRC) are also using Messenger to ensure people have the latest information about COVID-19.

Dr. Zafar Mirza, the Special Assistant to Pakistan’s Prime Minister on Health, said, “Facebook’s support on the global coronavirus crisis will be crucial for strengthening public awareness and empowering our citizens with key health tips that will keep communities safe in Pakistan and around the world. The Messenger experience allows our Ministry to scale our support and serve citizens seeking up to date information on the coronavirus, while keeping our helpline open for more critical cases.”

Given the need to share timely information about the coronavirus is critical to keeping communities safe and informed, we are also making it possible for government health organizations and UN health agencies to proactively send important updates related to COVID-19 to people already messaging them.

Online Hackathon to Tackle COVID-19 Social Issues

We’re also partnering with hackathon provider Devpost to invite developers around the world to participate in an online hackathon leveraging the Messenger platform to build messaging solutions that address COVID-19 issues like social distancing and keeping people educated and informed.

Participants will be encouraged to build both global and local solutions and will receive unique access to Messenger-related content, including Facebook Live tutorials with product experts and a range of educational materials to support innovation. Winners will get mentoring from Facebook engineers to help make these solutions a reality. They’ll also receive invitations to attend F8 2021, including flights and accommodations, and will be given the opportunity to participate in the F8 hackathon.

Developers who are interested in participating can subscribe to the Facebook for Developers newsletter for updates.

We’re committed to leveraging our resources and Messenger’s reach, tools and technology to ensure government health organizations and UN health agencies around the world have the resources they need to share timely, accurate information on the coronavirus to keep people safe and informed.

Facebook Developers

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