As we kicked off Day 4 of the NetHope Global Summit at Santa Clara University, Industry, Non-Profit and Government leaders announced a new step forward for humanitarian efforts by embracing cloud services. I reflected on the mentoring many of us received from Andy Grove, Intel’s former chairman. He always said that the best way to succeed is to focus on what you do best. At Intel, there’s no question our core competency is technology.
That premise is what launched us on the road to today’s announcement of NetHope’s Humanitarian and Development Services Cloud initiative. For me, this effort started some three years ago when our Intel’s World Ahead and Corporate Affairs groups put our heads together to align our competence in technology with corporate social responsibility. Applying technology leadership to scale humanitarian efforts led us to engage with NetHope, a unique Non-Government Organization (NGO). NetHope’s mission is to advance humanitarian efforts through the use of technology, and is comprised of CIOs of 32 of the largest worldwide NGOs. NetHope’s “role up our sleeves” approach aligns with Intel’s World Ahead objective to bridge the digital divide and bring uncompromised technology access and its benefits to billions of people.
Technology can add real value to humanitarian efforts by reducing costs and speeding the delivery of services. We saw this come to life today in the form of real world examples of how Cloud Services are scaling humanitarian efforts. A great example of this, demonstrated by Child Fund International (CFI), is the adaptation and reuse of an existing cloud service to benefit child management. In a matter of months CFI was able to outfit field workers in Brazil to use netbooks to streamline their processes. Today, one result of the pilot stood out to me. It showed how the existing paper process can be reduced from one week to 25 minutes. My simple math says that’s over 80 times more efficient. Think about the implications this could have for children that CFI and other organizations do not have the capacity to support.
NetHope’s cloud focus is perfectly timed with the industry’s evolution to “cloud computing” – the sometimes over-hyped term for services that are made available over the Internet. If you’ve ever signed up for an internet email account, you’re already familiar with the benefits of cloud-based services: You can get started fast without buying and maintaining expensive systems. For NGOs, humanitarian cloud services can stretch limited dollars and IT resources. And cloud solutions are also much more likely to be successful because they use technologies that are proven and have already been deployed.
Like the CFI example above, the Humanitarian Services and Development Cloud initiative is building upon successful projects Intel and NetHope members are architecting for scale. Our first success story is the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative (GLCI), an effort led by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to stem the proliferation of crop disease in Africa. Intel’s contribution included architecting solutions for collecting much more accurate data on damaged crops and for training farmers on how to reintegrate disease resistant crops.
The services that enabled GLCI are located in the “cloud” and became a catalyst for other NGOs and Government sponsored organizations to implement solutions showcased at this week’s NetHope Summit. The current efforts are also proving to be sustainable as many of the solutions are paying for themselves through improved efficiency as well as greatly reduced time, effort and cost of roll out. The showcase is proving that a Humanitarian and Development Services Cloud model is a viable way to solve hard problems — not just in agriculture but also in healthcare, child welfare, natural resource management and other areas of need.
Other showcase solutions included the Tanzania Beyond Tomorrow effort where NetHope partners are teaming with the Tanzanian government to architect eLearning for the nation’s secondary students; the eHealth Educator, a PEPFAR sponsored pilot in Lesotho using netbooks to train military personnel and to collect health records (22,000 to date); and a demonstration of how multiple cloud solutions can be extend to integrate humanitarian data with GIS maps, developed by ESRI, for mobile field workers.
Intel has been a strong supporter of the Humanitarian Services Cloud effort in several ways. Besides architectural leadership, our corporate affairs group has provided funding to NetHope and some of their member organizations. Our Emerging Market Platforms Group has created a loaner program for ruggedized classmate PCs so NetHope members can do rapid piloting and prototyping.
I want to stress the importance of collaboration in these efforts. It couldn’t happen without the aligned efforts of NetHope NGOs, Development Agencies, and industry partners, like Accenture, Cisco, HP, Microsoft and many others. By adding our combined “Core Competencies” in technology, we’re proving that we can create innovative, partner-delivered cloud services that solve hard problems in a matter of days or months. Ordinarily, many of the showcased solutions would take multiple years to achieve a “one-off” victory. Now, instead of humanitarian agencies reinventing the wheel, we’re seeing the beginning of a new phase in philanthropy where solutions can be deployed rapidly and affordably. Replicating and sharing successes with other agencies and organizations is the recipe for sustainability and scale.
This is exciting to me both personally and as the chief strategist of Intel’s World Ahead organization. My personal philosophy is to participate versus donate. I’m proud Intel encourages that same perspective, saying let’s bring our core competency — the ability to design and architect creative technology solutions — to the world of humanitarian efforts.