The Tech Awards 2010, Intel Environment Award
The Amazon Conservation Team
Since its inception in 1996, the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) has designed and implemented conservation programs in true partnership with indigenous peoples of the Amazon.
The Suruí people of the Brazilian Amazon were first contacted only 40 years ago during construction of the Trans-Amazonian Highway. Surrounded by large-scale deforestation, they wanted to protect their way of life and tell the world that their forests are worth far more alive and standing than dead.
Successful strategies for forest conservation in the Amazon depend on developing conservation programs that work effectively at the local level. By working with ACT and Google Earth Outreach, the Suruí developed a 50-year plan for their people and forests by combining their traditional knowledge with science and technology to find solutions to sustainable forest management.
Peer Water Exchange
Peer Water Exchange (PWX) is a global online network that has created a clearinghouse to share water solutions and approaches, connecting project implementers, funders, and third-party observers in an open peer-review process.
One of the largest threats to life on Earth is the reduction in the quality and quantity of fresh water. Successful solutions to unsafe water problems incorporate community organization, appropriate technology, hygiene, sanitation, transfer of ownership, change in behavior, and long-term maintenance.
To date, over 60 agencies around the world have used Peer Water Exchange to peer review, receive funding, and implement small-scale water and sanitation projects, impacting more than 300,000 people in local communities.
ToughStuff has developed a modular set of solar power products that combines product design with innovations in distribution, helping to lift people out of poverty and improve lives.
In the developing world, 1.5 billion people lack electricity. Instead, they use smoky kerosene-burning lamps and candles for lighting, consume huge numbers of polluting dry-cell batteries for their radios, and spend significant time and money charging mobile phones.
Using a lightweight, robust, portable, photovoltaic (PV) solar system designed for personal use, ToughStuff's affordable product set includes a lamp, radio connectors, and a mobile-phone charger. In eight months of operation, more than 200,000 units have been sold, providing solar power for the first time to people who still rely on polluting, archaic technology.
The Tech Awards 2010, BD Biosciences Economic Development Award
Alexis T. Belonio
Alexis T. Belonio has developed a cooking stove and continuous-flow industrial burner, both of which use a finely tuned gasification process to produce a clean-burning fuel that is almost indistinguishable in appearance and emissions from liquid propane.
Huge piles of inedible rice husks are often found rotting beside roads or smoldering in fields, producing smoke emission in rural household and industries. This adds up to about 2 million metric tons of potential energy going to waste each year.
The Rice Husk Gasifier is simple in design, allowing rural people to build it themselves using locally available resources and skills. The fuel can be used for various thermal applications, providing a practical solution to the high cost of fuel while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.
Husk Power Systems
Husk Power Systems has developed a gasification technology that filters the released gas from rice husks to power generators that make electricity.
Many of India's cities have become bustling centers for high technology and heavy industry, but hundreds of millions of people in the countryside remain off the grid. Rice husks, a waste product of rice milling, are plentiful in the villages and traditionally have been removed and discarded before rice is transported.
Husk Power Systems designs, operates and installs 35- to 100-kilowatt mini-power plants that convert rice husks into electricity. More than 50,000 rural Indians are now receiving power in a financially sustainable, scalable, environmentally friendly, and profitable manner.
International Development Enterprises India
International Development Enterprises India (IDEI) manufactures and distributes a variety of foot-operated, water-lifting devices that can irrigate small plots of land in regions that have high water tables.
Much of India experiences extreme variation in rainfall, with heavy rains during the monsoon season and drought-like conditions during other months. Farmers cannot afford expensive conventional irrigation technologies and are restricted to rain-fed farming, resulting in poor food and income security.
Costing between $12 and $40, IDEI's Treadle Pump is simple in design and easily manageable. The pump has enabled more than 800,000 farmers to shift from rain-dependent cultivation to year-round cultivation of high-value crops. Their additional net annual income, averaging $400, is then spent on housing and education.
The Tech Awards 2010, Microsoft Education Award
BBC World Service Trust
BBC Janala ("Window") uses the mobile phone as a powerful low-cost learning device by offering hundreds of audio and SMS English lessons to mobile users in Bangladesh for less than 1.5 cents per minute.
Demand for English is very strong in Bangladesh where such skills are essential for jobs and
economic growth. Research recently revealed that 84% of the population want to
learn English and 99% want their children to learn. Most people, however, find learning too difficult and too expensive.
BBC Janala therefore provides high-quality English learning tools on mobile, and also on television and the internet, to millions of people, many of whom live on less than $2 a day.
To make the lessons affordable, the BBC has teamed up with all six of Bangladesh's mobile operators who agreed to cut tariffs for the service by up to 75%. In the first 12 weeks alone, more than 1 million lessons were accessed via mobile phones.
CK-12 is changing the textbook paradigm with its free, open-content, Web-based
collaborative model called "FlexBooks."
Textbooks represent a system of knowledge transfer that is centuries old and out of step with modern technologies and learning. Traditional textbooks can be expensive, difficult to update, and incompatible with multimedia educational resources. Given their cost, many students are learning from outdated materials.
The power of the FlexBooks system is that it is useable under any condition and enhances collaboration across district, county, and state lines as well as internationally. As more schools adopt these next-generation textbooks, the global implications for customized and high-quality digital learning are unprecedented.
Google Lit Trips
Google Lit Trips allows users to gain appreciation for the distances and terrain in literature by using Google Earth to create downloadable files.
The importance of providing global awareness, citizenship, and responsibility to students today is vital. Preparation for facing challenges in these rapidly changing times is a daunting task, and educators continually struggle with ways to motivate students to read literature.
Google Lit Trips has created a scalable model for helping educators around the world hone reading skills. By combining the best of the free software movement and the open educational content movement, developers can easily add photos and links at given locations, resulting in a highly motivational and innovative tool.
The Tech Awards 2010, The Katherine M. Swanson Equality Award
A Single Drop for Safe Water
A Single Drop for Safe Water (ASDSW) helps communities gain access to clean water and sanitation using a social entrepreneurship model.
Although water resources are adequate for the Philippines' population of 90 million, 13 million citizens do not have access to safe water due to failing or non-existent infrastructure or unimproved sources.
ASDSW provides technical assistance, community-organizing skills, and educational materials to create local hubs of expertise known as PODS (People Offering Deliverable Services). PODS are independent, income-generating, education, training, and service centers that design, implement, and maintain affordable water and sanitation services. Since 2006, through 60 projects, more than 125,000 people now have better access to clean water and/or sanitation.
Global Voices Online translates, filters, and aggregates conversations, acting as a news agency that connects citizen media to the entire world.
Though the rise of participatory media has allowed people around the world to raise their voices about matters of concern locally and internationally, barriers of language and culture often make it difficult to hear those global voices.
To increase intercultural understanding and promote citizens' concerns in mainstream media, Global Voices Online works with two dozen professionals and hundreds of volunteers to produce news summaries, filter and translate content into more than 20 languages, and disseminate them to media outlets around the world. The site receives more than 500,000 unique visitors monthly. Stories have been picked up by major media outlets, including the BBC, CNN, The New York Times, and Reuters.
Souktel - Mobile Phone Employment Service
Souktel's Mobile Phone Employment Service reduces unemployment and stimulates growth in emerging economies by connecting job seekers and employers via SMS.
Most developing-world job seekers fail to find work because they lack good labor market information. Their web access is low, their social networks are weak, and their mobility is limited. Without the right resources, many slip into cycles of joblessness and poverty despite having skills and education.
Souktel's unique platform allows job seekers to create SMS mini-résumés listing their skills and location. Résumés are texted to a central database, which hundreds of employers search daily. Employers also post mini-ads on the same database, so people can search for jobs from their own handsets. Souktel's technology currently helps more than 10,000 job seekers and 200 employers every day.
The Tech Awards 2010, Nokia Health Award
Daniel A. Fletcher
CellScope combines diagnostic microscopy with cell phone convenience to expand access to basic healthcare in remote regions.
In developing countries, bringing physicians and patients together can be an enormous challenge. Furthermore, undertrained healthcare workers operating in remote regions are often under-resourced.
CellScope captures and transmits images of disease agents, such as those that cause malaria and tuberculosis. To be able to receive analysis and treatment recommendations from remote experts could drastically reduce both the cost and time of performing critical disease diagnosis, as well as provide an early warning of epidemics, in poverty-stricken regions around the globe.
Micronutrient Initiative's President Venkatesh Mannar and the University of Toronto's Dr. Levente Diosady developed a process to double fortify salt with iron and iodine that keeps the nutrients stable and efficacious.
Poor diets can cause severe iodine and iron deficits, with devastating repercussions on brain development and on maternal and child mortality in vulnerable populations. These deficits reduce individual and national productivity, resulting in serious economic consequences.
Universal use of salt makes it an ideal vehicle to deliver nutrients regularly on a long-term basis. Double-Fortified Salt (DFS) protects 3.6 million children daily in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Studies have confirmed DFS's potential to benefit more than a billion people, improve health and productivity, and promote healthy brain development.
Working in conjunction with PATH, PharmaJet developed a needle-free, single-use jet injection system.
Sixteen billion needle injections are used every year, costing $5-6 billion. Additionally, an estimated $2 billion is spent annually for follow-up care for health-care workers who become infected from contact with contaminated needles.
PharmaJet's unique design allows every drop of expensive drugs and vaccines to be used, reducing the amount of vaccine needed, in some cases up to 80%. Jet injectors use air pressure rather than a needle to deliver pharmaceuticals intramuscularly or subcutaneously. Syringes can be filled in the field using a simple universal adapter. Because it is a single-use and auto-disable injector, cross-contamination and needle-stick injuries are eliminated.