[Read more session reports from WSIS Forum 2017]
The panel’s aim was to highlight the World Summit Awards (WSA) which has been ongoing for the last 14 years thanks to the collaboration of the Austrian government and the United Nations. WSA aims to facilitate change, bridge digital divides via innovation and quality local content with solutions focusing on eight Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). WSA focuses on content depth and quality in learning and education, environment, inclusion, government, health, smart settlements, culture, and science. The selection process is carried out through local, regional and national selections by an online jury. Every year five social entrepreneurship projects of young innovators in the eight categories are awarded. The moderator Prof Peter A. Bruck (Chairman of the WSA Board of Directors) underlined the importance of achieving a broad view of best practices with global diversity which is crucial in reaching SDGs and closing divides.
The first project introduced by Mr Tudor Mihailescu was named Govfaces. Initially created for facilitating exchange between leaders and their communities, it later created partnerships with actors such as UNESCO and WHO. Mihailescu stated the biggest challenge the project faced was bringing together high-level officials and leaders.
Founder of UniversalDoctor Project, Dr Jordi Serrano Pons, from Spain, took the floor and introduced his project which was created to facilitate communication between doctors, nurses and their refugee patients. They have identified the most frequently used 600 sentences in different languages when patients and doctors interact. The greatest challenge faced was not creating the tools, but convincing the doctors and nurses that using the UniversalDoctor would benefit them and their patients. Doctors were content in using gestures, body language and human translators when available, however they had to be convinced that clearer communication through UniversalDoctor would prevent patients from coming back due to misunderstandings and misuses of prescriptions.
Another winner of WSA was LISA.ID, an SMS-based, web and android application to facilitate exchange of information on agriculture and aquaculture, by connecting rural communities with related government officials, experts and investors. Initially the project (LISA stands for Information based System for Villages) only featured a Q&A portal but it later evolved to an application where farmers can sell their produce and crops in partnership with Ministry of Trade. It also consists of a tried and tested best practices section containing experiences of farmers. With government involvement being crucial to the project, the collaboration with the Ministry of Information, who seeks to increase penetration in rural areas, was welcome as the project created relevant local content. The application also brought together investors and farmers looking for financial sources.
Ms Sharmishta Sivaramakrishnan (WSA Youth Ambassador and member non-governmental organization Caring for Cambodia (CFC)) introduced their project Food for Thought. The project provides student two meals per day, while teaching them about healthy eating through gardens set up in schools where students learn nutritional values of food they consume. The gardens are also used for biology lessons in the schools. Ms Sivaramakrishnan highlighted the success of the project in introducing the importance of education and technology to students and their families in a non-threatening way to their lifestyles. CFC was presented as a best practice, working towards increasing the capacity of young people. The panelist also made a call for applications to the WSA for anyone under 30 years old with an innovative project. WSA winners stressed the importance of individual networks to create and fund projects. The importance of bringing together different stakeholders such as government and local communities was also stressed.
by Su Sonia Herring
- World Summit Awards