Challenge Google awarded three NGOs that use technology to help communities in Colombia that face various issues. Some technophobes, people who are not lovers of technology, argue that advances in this matter can cause discomfort to humanity. However, there are organizations in Colombia that have used it to, for example, provide medical care to people who do not have access to health services and who die from preventable diseases.
With the intention of encouraging these initiatives, Google Challenge awarded three organizations that have used different technologies to benefit diverse populations in the country.
More than 2,300 projects were presented to the Challenge. However, only three were awarded, each with $ 350,000. The jury team selected The Nature Conservancy, the One Liter of Light Colombia Foundation and the Colombian Civil Air Patrol as the winning NGOs that will also receive advice from this search engine for more than a year.
One Liter Foundation of Light Colombia
“There is an image that I will never forget: in the background, a city perfectly illuminated, but on this side, a community forgotten in the dark,” said Camilo José Herrera, ambassador of light in A Liter of Light Colombia, explaining the project.
There are populations in the world that do not have access to public lighting and internet services. Faced with this problem, the foundation developed light poles made of recyclable materials, which are powered by solar energy and also incorporate a router that emits a WiFi signal five kilometers in the round.
To provide internet for free, the project replicates every 50 posts the signal that the Government provides to schools. In this way it manages to offer wifi with a speed of 20 mbps and allows a simultaneous connection of up to 300 devices.
Herrera said that the money that received the product of the award will use it so that the posts can be assembled as if they were a piece of furniture for the house. In this way it hopes to improve its distribution and reach more people.
Each pole costs $ 1,500,000. Between 2011 and 2013, the project benefited more than 4,700 homes in Colombia.
Colombian Civil Air Patrol
“Two years ago we arrived in Riosucio (Chocó). We reported 17 deaths from preventable conditions, such as malnutrition or diarrhea. After the intervention, the number was reduced to two children, “said Valentina Zuluaga, general manager of the Colombian Civil Air Patrol.
This private, non-profit entity, which has been providing 51 years of free medical care in Colombia to civilians who do not have access to this service, works to develop an information system that alerts health emergencies in remote areas of Colombia.
“These systems are powered by text messages and free calls from the population. Also by general practitioners who are constantly traveling to these areas, “explained Zuluaga.
The patrol, which has 671 health professional volunteers, plans to invest the money received to strengthen this system.
The Nature Conservancy
The Decision Support System of the Magdalena-Cauca Macro-basin (Sima) is a technological project promoted by the organization The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and with which it seeks to preserve this natural resource and thus benefit the 36 million people who depend on the basin.
Sima is a free and open-source software that anticipates the consequences of decision-making in the macro-basin. By means of this calculation, the organization seeks to prevent the damages that can be generated.
The project will use the investment to develop Sima and reach other parts of the world with this initiative.
“Through these resources we will invest in an escalation of the system, to reach other geographies and work in collaboration with other institutions,” said TNC spokesman Hector Angarita.
What to learn from these projects
From utilizing technology to conserve the nature to making a city smart, all of these superb projects scream one single thing: All of us possess the ability to change the world and truly make it a better place for us and all other life forms. Technological breakthroughs have unlocked exciting new horizons and possibilities to reach the Eutopia we all desire. The only thing standing in our way is our self-doubts and hesitations, which prevent us from unlocking our maximum potential.
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