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The SanDisk Equality Award
The SanDisk Equality Award recognizes technologies that level barriers towards success. These barriers may have many sources—natural disasters, physical or mental disabilities, cultural practices, or simply access to information and communication technology resources. The Equality category is unique from the other Tech Award categories in the award recognizes technology that contributes to equal access, equal rights, or equal treatment.
This year’s SanDisk Equality Award Laureates were selected from 33 applications, an increase of 18% from 2006. In broad strokes, they may be categorized as follows:
Thirteen (39%) of the 33 applications addressed disabilities; about half of these addressed computer use (hardware and/or software) and education, while the remainder dealt with other physically enabling technologies—such as barrier-free playgrounds or rugged-terrain, tip-resistant wheelchairs.
Eleven (33%) focused on achieving social change using technologies that encouraged intellectual, cultural, social, and economic development. Examples include FM radio relay transmitters, information and communication technology training, translating news for international consumption, stories and information to support women in male-dominated cultures, and translation services to help immigrants make use of social services.
Five (15%) addressed human rights, such as aiding in the registration of births, the recovery of missing persons, or mobilizing opposition to genocide.
Four (12%) focused on aid and disaster recovery, in three cases providing a middle layer of service to enable connections between beneficiaries and donors or volunteers.
Approximately one-third of the applications were submitted by organizations located in developing countries, yet slightly more than half focus primarily on impacting these countries. A similar number of projects had impacts in the North American (including Central America), South American, Asian, and African continents, while only a small number of projects address Europe and Oceana (including
By coincidence rather than intention, the five Laureates cover each of the bulleted categories above. They are described in what follows.
People around the world donate billions of dollars of cash and goods to aid and relief groups to alleviate human suffering. In some cases this aid comes in response to an acute problem, such as a natural disaster, acts of war, or failure of infrastructure; in others, the aid was in response to a chronic problem. Accessing food, medicine, clothing, and shelter promptly to help those in need presents a logistical challenge that few donor or beneficiary organizations can handle. This is where Counterpart International (CI) excels—CI establishes links between donor and recipient organizations, and provides the software, personnel, and expertise to manage the supply of humanitarian assistance from donor to recipient.
The software developed by CI consists of a distributed database application that people around the world use to share information on needs and available donations. The process of supplying donations involves many steps that are facilitated by the Counterpart Data Warehouse (CDW). Commodities available from donor organizations are listed in the data warehouse. The CI staff ensures the goods are safe and useful, and work with donors to prepare them for shipment. Bids for shipment from freight forwarders are received and automatically entered into the data warehouse. Donors are linked directly with the selected shipper to load the goods on a truck, which transports the goods to a port for container freight shipment. CI staff meets the incoming container at the customs office of the beneficiary’s country, help to clear customs, and then ensure equitable distribution according to a previously developed plan. The CDW allows donors to track the status of their donation. The CDW is used to monitor how donated goods are being used, and its compiled information assists in preparing reports for donors, governments, and others who seek information about donations.
CDW is used in every step of the humanitarian aid process. This complete supply chain management solution for humanitarian relief increases the transparency, accountability, and effectiveness of international aid. For example: (1) the CDW ensures that only needed goods are shipped; thus, avoiding the possibility of humanitarian aid going to waste, or being dumped in recipient countries; (2) goods such as food or medicine that have a limited shelf-life can be identified; (3) clear distribution plans avoid exacerbating pre-existing inequalities and tensions, and in an emergency situation, can facilitate triage and save lives; (4) simple mistakes are avoided, such as shipping the wrong quantity of goods to a particular region of the world; and (5) by better linking donors and recipients, donors know their donations are being used efficiently, encouraging the continuance of sustained donor contributions.
Counterpart International operates on a massive scale. The CDW receives information from more than 24,000 users in over 20 countries, including donor and recipient organizations and CI staff that help to manage the shipments. The CDW has been used to manage the shipment of $1 Billion in humanitarian aid since 1996.
You can find out more about CI at: http://www.counterpart.org.
Devendra Raj Mehta, an economist and previous Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board in
The BMVSS enterprise provides a holistic approach to healing. Largely through word of mouth, patients come from all over
Under Mehta’s direction and with his financial patronage, BMVSS has made numerous innovations to a local craftsperson’s invention. The result is a prosthetic limb that rivals or surpasses the capabilities of western prostheses, at less than 1/200 the cost. The Jaipur Foot allows walking, running, kneeling, sitting cross-legged, climbing a tree, riding a bicycle, and even driving a car. The innovations include the use of specialized polymers, microcellular rubber blocks, laser alignment systems, full socket vacuum forming systems, and fabrication processes that allow legs to be fitted on site while the patient waits. The microcellular rubber blocks are used in place of wood and allow dorsal flexion, which enables patients to assume positions that require kneeling or sitting cross-legged. The specialized polymer pipes are used to make sockets in place of aluminum, thereby lowering costs and weight. The rapid fitment process allows clients who may have endured a difficult journey to reach BMVSS to be fitted on their way home without requiring a lengthy stay or a return visit; below-knee amputees are targeted for release within a day or two of their arrival, while above-the-knee amputees may head home after three to five days.
Since its beginnings in Jaipur in 1975, BMVSS has expanded to 16 centers throughout
Having emerged as the largest prosthetic limb organization in the world, BMVSS has fitted 325,000 people with limbs since 1975 and provides additional services, such as offering calipers to polio patients, and wheelchairs, tricycles, and crutches to others. This translates to nearly one million patient interventions since the organization began. While BMVSS has reached approximately 1 in 11 orthopedically disabled people in
The Jaipur Foot experience is more fully described at:
Access to clean and affordable sources of energy for cooking and light represents a genuine hardship in the rural areas of countries such as
Like its sister organization, Grameen Bank, which is widely recognized for its pioneering work using microcredit to fight poverty and catalyze socio-economic development, Grameen Shakti provides the rural poor with soft credit to obtain renewable energy technologies that improve their social and economic well-being. Grameen Shakti solutions include photovoltaic solar home systems, fixed dome biogas plants, and improved cooking stoves. The solar home systems provide lighting, using light emitting diodes (LED) and cold fluorescent lighting (CFL) technologies, and power for radios, televisions, mobile phones, and tools such as soldering irons. The gas and fertilizer produced by biogas plants is a source of revenue, while the biogas plants consume poultry waste. The improved cooking stoves use less fuel and reduce indoor air pollution. The monthly cost for the solar home system is about the same as the kerosene fuel they replace, but there is greater utility, and lower health and environmental consequences. About 30% of the recipients of solar home systems use them to generate income. In some cases, cottage industries are enabled, such as weaving handicrafts or taking care of poultry. Other examples include milling rice, tailoring clothing, and the sale of merchandise including groceries and cell phones.
Since its founding in 1996, approximately one million people have benefited directly from GS energy programs. Systems have been installed in 100,000 rural households. Approximately 1,000 women technicians have been trained. Rural offices have been established in 264 locations, and 20 Grameen Technology Centers (GTCs) have been established. The GTCs are used to further reduce cost, decentralize activities, and train future women entrepreneurs in the energy technologies. Most of the solar home system accessories are manufactured at the GTCs and the organization has plans to manufacture LED and CFL technologies locally as well.
Please see: http://www.gshakti.org for more information.
The Innocence Project was founded at Cardozo School of Law by Professors Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld in 1992. Their mission is to free the large number of innocent people who have been wrongly convicted of crimes in the
DNA is often found in biological evidence such as blood, saliva, sweat, semen, hair, and skin. The ability to match DNA evidence from a crime scene uniquely to individuals is a recent technological feat, and one which has allowed a re-examination of evidence from criminal cases long thought to have been closed. The Innocence Project has pioneered the use of DNA evidence to establish innocence in the criminal justice system. As a result, 200 wrongfully convicted people in the
The use of DNA technology has made it clear that wrongful convictions arise from systematic defects in the justice system. Causes of wrongful conviction include mistaken eyewitness identification, unreliable or limited scientific evidence, false confessions, forensic science fraud or misconduct, government misconduct, and bad lawyering. Clearly, states must refrain from the ultimate punishment—death—if the justice system cannot reliably determine guilt.
Since its 1992 founding, the Innocence Project has spawned over 30 similar organizations throughout the country, including an Innocence Project at
The Innocence Project Web site is:
Tropical Forest Trust (TFT) works to conserve threatened tropical forests through sustainable resource management. Historically, forest peoples’ concerns have not been considered in industrial logging companies’ decisions about forest resource utilization, primarily because of power imbalances, as well as language, literacy, and cultural barriers. The Indigenous Peoples Voices Programme (under the TFT) empowers the native people in forested areas to protect their religious, cultural, and resource sites from destruction by logging operations.
This project began with a Greenpeace mission in December 2004 that identified a site in the
This technology has allowed CIB to obtain the first Forest Stewardship Council certificate awarded in the
The Tropical Forest Trust Web site (http://www.tropicalforesttrust.com) describes this work in more detail. Conclusion
The Panel Mark Aschheim, Chair, Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering,
Mark Aschheim, Chair, Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering,
Jeffrey Baerwald, Associate Professor, Counseling Psychology,
Juliana Change, Associate Professor,
Vern Norviel, Member of the Firm, Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati