THURSDAY 30 MAY 2013 1:46 PM


Solar lighting, digital connections, sexual violence, rhinoceroses and employment is not a list with obvious linkages. Each of these issues, and others, however, are being addressed by the Google Global Impact Awards. The brand new awards programme, is part of the Global Impact Challenge, a scheme that supports British non-profits.

Some of the world’s highest-profile non-profits are among the ten shortlisted entries including War Child, Amnesty International and Age UK. While each project tackles a difficult problem in some of the world’s poorest, most conflict-ridden or most inaccessible places, the entries have two things in common: a strong technological element and a sense of collaboration. Google says technology can solve some of the world’s most pressing problems and the £500,000 grants that will be given to the four finalists will supplement Google’s own assistance to each winning project.

ZSL’s shortlisted project features an vastly-improved version of existing camera trapping and data capture technologies that will eventually monitor some of the world’s most at-risk animals in East Africa, including rhinos and elephants. Its technological system will sense when potential poachers are in protected areas and transmit that data instantaneously to park rangers who can then take immediate action in order to protect the animals.

ZSL’s senior policy advisor Katherine Secoy says “People can relate to this. It’s a story of humanity’s atrocities against the defenceless wildlife. Illegal trade in rhino horn is an enormous issue that has been escalating beyond proportion.”

The awards are judged by a panel of tech and business leaders, who will determine three winners, and a crowdsourced judging process, which will pick the final winner. The crowdsourcing element is equally important to many of these projects as it has raised awareness of both the projects themselves and the issues at stake. Secoy says that raising awareness around the illegal wildlife trade has been incredibly beneficial.

Online voting closes tomorrow and winners will be selected on 3 June.