Monday, October 5, 2009


Last fall, Google launched Project 10 to the 100th, a call for ideas to change the world. Out of over 154,000 submissions, Google has selected 16 finalists! Google will commit $10 million to the top five ideas with the most votes by this Thursday, October 8. Please read the ideas below and cast your vote here:
1. Collect and organize the world's urban data
Support efforts to organize, analyze and make accessible online the world's urban and population data. A majority of the global human population lives in cities, and more people continue to migrate into urban centers. Information about the urban planet is ever more invaluable in helping understand humanity's impact on our surroundings, thus empowering citizens and helping leaders make better-informed decisions. Users interested in this area submitted ideas ranging from creating a website where residents can text or upload photos that highlight city issues to building a comprehensive database of city projects and using mobile phones to collect information about, and eventually be able to predict traffic and congestion patterns.
Suggestions that inspired this idea:
Build a website that enables city residents to submit information to highlight city issues, thereby helping governments understand their citizens' demands
Apply leading-edge web tools to communities and cities to help people participate, document and share solutions to the challenges that their communities face
Place cameras at suitable locations in cities around the world and take daily pictures to provide time-lapse views of urban development
Create a comprehensive, free-access, peer-reviewed online database of various city projects from major cities around the world
2. Build better banking tools for everyone
Partner with banks and technology companies to increase the reach of financial services across the world. Users submitted numerous ideas that seek to improve the quality of people's lives by offering new, more convenient and more sophisticated banking services. Specific suggestions include inexpensive village-based banking kiosks for developing countries; an SMS solution geared toward mobile networks; and ideas for implementing banking services into school curriculums.
Suggestions that inspired this idea:
Enable prepaid cell phone bank accounts for millions of people working in the informal economy
Create a community-level electronic banking system for rural areas
Build IT-enabled kiosks which provide access to financial services
Create a single world bank or supra-national currency, uniform rules and transparent public accounting
3. Encourage positive media depictions of engineers and scientists
Support groups and programs that promote positive depictions of engineers and scientists in popular media. Generally speaking, career services are only offered in earnest during university years, when many opportunities have already passed by. These proposals are designed to encourage more young people to pursue careers in this field by supporting groups that work toward encouraging positive images of engineering and science in pop culture. Our users submitted a number of suggestions for making engineering and science "cool," including online libraries of "day-in-the-life of an engineer" videos, an online channel devoted entirely to IT news, live performances with massive robots, and telling inspirational real-life stories about how individual engineers and scientists have changed the world. This proposal will require finding the right public advocacy groups to partner with in pursuing these objectives.
Suggestions that inspired this idea:
Create a tech channel that broadcasts coverage of conferences and news about the web and Internet technology
Generate excitement and curiosity in science by developing fantastic live presentations in science theaters
Develop an online multimedia library that describes a wide variety of careers through compelling stories in short video interviews, documentaries and day-in-the-life vignettes
4. Work toward socially conscious tax policies
Fund the most promising efforts to make the tax system more transparent and better at supporting societal sustainability and development. This idea is inspired by many tax-related ideas from users around the world, including: replacing income taxes with smart consumption taxes; tax discounts for citizens who participate in socially beneficial works; and giving citizens more visibility and control into the allocation of their tax dollars. User ideas in this category highlight tax policy as a perhaps surprisingly fertile area in which intelligent, data-driven analysis could make a huge difference in the effectiveness of the public sector.
Suggestions that inspired this idea:
Replace all income taxes with an ecological VAT: namely, a smart sales tax on consumption
Create a mechanism that serves consumers'/citizens' interest by applying externality cost/benefit analysis to systematically adjust market forces in vital sectors like energy, housing and the environment
Work to encourage the Brazil vehicle tax to release a portion of its revenues for projects to neutralize carbon emissions
Encourage people to participate in charities and other socially beneficial works by providing tax discounts
5. Make educational content available online for free
Make educational and course materials more accessible online to students worldwide. Lots of educational content is not indexed or accessible on the public web. Various users have proposed finding ways to help content owners put formerly exclusive content online, including offline materials (lectures, textbooks, videotaped workshops) and limited-access materials (scholarly papers, research dissertations); help teachers themselves become more available online (access to online profs, 24/7 homework help, cross-country study groups); and to make all this material and academic help accessible through both computer and mobile platforms.
Suggestions that inspired this idea:
Collaborate with top schools around the world to make their lectures freely accessible online
Create an online educational platform that provides free training and education as part of a worldwide, officially accepted degree
Provide free online lectures and textbooks for every subject and grade level
Facilitate information exchange among students around the world, including cross-country "study groups" on specific topics
6. Drive innovation in public transport
Develop new transportation technologies to help move more people with less energy, greater efficiency and fewer casualties. Millions of people still use methods of transportation invented a hundred or more years ago. Even small improvements in speed, safety, cost and environmental efficiency would have a large impact on people's lives, and on the planet as a whole. With such improvements in mind, transportation-minded users submitted ideas ranging from a hydrogen-powered bicycle to an airship optimized for commuter travel. By aligning with and supporting organizations that share these goals, this proposal aims to drive innovation in this sector and make the best of these ideas a reality.
Suggestions that inspired this idea:
Design a community light rail system for use by bicycles and minimum-powered vehicles
Build a rail car system that adapts fuel cars to also run on electric railway networks
Create a transportation system that enables electric cars to run on a rail-type system
Promote bicycle commuting via more efficient bike safety systems
Design electric bicycles powered by hydrogen or methanol fuel cells
Build airships for public transport
7. Create more efficient landmine removal programs
Fund global organizations that are developing efficient strategies for landmine detection and removal. Landmines remain a significant global problem. There are an estimated 110 million landmines still active in 70 countries; they have been blamed for over 5,000 casualties annually, ~70% of which are civilians, and nearly half of those are children.* Effective new landmine-removal programs offer a wide range of societal benefits beyond the obvious development of mine-free areas, including the repatriation of refugees and better distribution of emergency aid. Numerous suggestions for this topic include robotic, human and animal-facilitated detection strategies. *
Suggestions that inspired this idea:
Work with the HeroRat organization to detect and remove landmines
Fund a robotic mine detector/remover
Use shock waves or intense sound to explode landmines
Create a minefield-clearing machine that works by simply "rolling" across landmine-suspected areas and detonating mines
8. Build real-time, user-reported news service
Everything Else
Help people find and report timely, important local information. Users have submitted many ideas proposing better access to locally relevant info, including real-time news (fires, natural disasters and road accidents), disease tracking (mobile devices that track people's health status) and personal incidents (calling to report a threatening criminal situation, natural disaster or medical emergency). Implementation of this idea would involve creating a system that enables ordinary citizens to easily report news that's happening around them, from meaningful local events to important global stories.
Suggestions that inspired this idea:
Create a news agency that relies on users to report news
Offer a news feature that pinpoints the viewer's current location and shows what's going on, right now, in his or her neighborhood, city, county, etc.
Build an internet-based news channel where anybody can post individual/family/local/global news videos or text
9. Create real-world issue reporting system
Build an issue-reporting website that lets people report problems to proper authorities. When software testers find errors, they generally submit them to a tool which automatically routes them to the right team to be fixed. Implementing proposals for this idea might involve creating an analogous system for the real world that lets anyone report a problem of any kind (e.g., a dangerous pothole), and routes problems it deems sufficiently important to the proper authorities (e.g., the relevant road agency). The aim would be to incorporate all the niche applications that users suggested, including reporting crimes to the police and environmental issues to local governments.
Suggestions that inspired this idea:
Enable people to submit bug reports about problems in the real world
Create a one-stop shop for anyone wanting to find any service anywhere
10. Enhance science and engineering education
Support initiatives that enhance young people's engineering and science education. Users from many countries agreed that encouraging science education was an ideal way to insure the brightest future for technology development itself. Specific ideas ranged from building a virtual science lab and a live multiplayer math game to putting Lego robots and local high-tech professionals in schools.
Suggestions that inspired this idea:
Sponsor the FIRST robotics competition
Build a virtual science lab to enable students without sufficient access to proper facilities to run, trial and test virtual experiments
Ensure that youth have access to Legos, robots, computers etc. in school environments
Recruit local technology professionals to work with students at local schools
Create an academically oriented multiplayer game focused on math and science
11. Create genocide monitoring and alert system
Build and refine tools capable of disseminating genocide-related mapping and related information in order to save lives. Much of the necessary technology and data-gathering methodology already exists both for general crisis mapping and for early warning systems capable of preventing mass atrocities. A key remaining step is to make this data more widely available to strengthen international aid agency coordination, improve resource allocation, develop timely policy and help evaluate current humanitarian practices.
Suggestions that inspired this idea:
Reduce conflict, specifically crimes against humanity, by aggregating data, including pertinent statistics, the history and geography of specific conflicts, local cultures, geostrategic interests, and recent developments that can help policymakers identify emerging crises more effectively
Support the creation of an independent global genocide watchdog that can trigger existing laws and guarantee immediate intervention
Apply mapping and communications technology to track, predict, and prevent genocides
Help guide civilians facing genocide to safe refugee camps through updated dynamic web maps and hand-held GPS devices
12. Promote health monitoring and data analysis
Predict and minimize medical problems and emergencies through real-time tracking of individuals' health data and analysis of historical data. Several ideas submitted in multiple languages recommend this concept, offering various ideas about which types of monitors and devices to use; which vital signs to measure (with varying levels of invasiveness); which diseases and conditions to track; and so on. The idea could work both in the developed world (through wearable, mobile or in-home devices) and in the developing world (via publicly accessible locations and devices), and the data could be used both to track individuals' health status and to spot community trends and prevent disease outbreaks.
Suggestions that inspired this idea:
Create an integrated personal health data system that uses data collected from toilets to transmit and analyze health and nutritional data
Use a bracelet device to measure blood pressure, temperature, etc. to detect health changes and track trends at a regional and national level
Create an affordable, wearable, nearly invisible device that people could use to effortlessly monitor physical health data, then broadcast it to authorized individuals they have selected.
Design a portable doctor or handheld health monitoring system
Create an integrated personal health data system that uses data collected from toilets to transmit and analyze health and nutritional data
13. Provide quality education to African students
Support efforts to increase young Africans' access to quality education. This idea's many user-submitted inspirations include an initiative to provide quality education and facilities to children who lack access; giving leadership training to outstanding young people who will comprise tomorrow's African leaders; and providing an online networking space for knowledge sharing and collaboration among teachers in Africa.
Suggestions that inspired this idea:
Establish youth leadership training programs in every major town and city throughout Africa
Create a cutting-edge research and development center that to identify, inspire and nurture a solution-providing generation of young Africans
Offer scholarships to students from developing countries who wish to study in engineering programs outside their country of origin
Increase educational opportunities in developing countries by creating "cyber schools"
Provide a online networking space for collaboration and knowledge sharing among teachers in Africa
14. Make government more transparent
Create a website that enables people from any country or municipality to easily learn about the workings of their government, and rally their fellow citizens to take action to improve it. Numerous user ideas embraced variations on the theme of governmental transparency, with specific proposals ranging from publishing details of proposed laws and politicians' voting records to making public budgets searchable online and leveraging social networks to let communities make their voices heard by their representatives by voting on pressing issues.
Suggestions that inspired this idea:
Create a "govwatch" program that allows people to enter in geographic and other info and get back information about bills/laws that affect them
Empower individual voters with both online, real-time data on their political representatives' activity, and tools to analyze, engage and influence outcomes
Increase the transparency of laws, eliminate duplicate ones and communicate them better to affected citizens
Share information on how municipalities and states use public funds
15. Create real-time natural crisis tracking system
Make rapid-response crisis-mapping data available to help policymakers better coordinate response efforts during hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters. For example, this proposal could involve joining with global partners to develop technology to collect high-resolution imagery and video via satellite, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or ground-based communications, and display and aggregate this data for the use of policymakers and international organizations tasked with protecting vulnerable civilians.
Suggestions that inspired this idea:
Use online mapping products to put geographic data to work managing environmental emergencies
Create an interface that delivers real-time images of short-term natural disasters and long-term environmental crises.
Use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for global weather monitoring and climatological data distribution
Build a cheap, modular rapid response platform bolted to an unmanned, autonomous light aircraft
Use Vertical Takeoff & Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in hazardous area detection, life search and rescue, and more
16. Help social entrepreneurs drive change
Create a fund to support social entrepreneurship. This idea was inspired by a number of user proposals focused on "social entrepreneurs" -- individuals and organizations who use entrepreneurial techniques to build ventures focused on attacking social problems and fomenting change. Specific relevant ideas include establishing schools that teach entrepreneurial skills in rural areas; supporting entrepreneurs in underdeveloped communities; and creating an entity to provide capital and training to help entrepreneurs build viable businesses and catalyze sustained community change.
Suggestions that inspired this idea:
Provide targeted capital and business training to help young entrepreneurs build viable businesses and catalyze sustained community change
Create a non-profit, venture capital-like revolving fund to invest in high-impact local entrepreneurs
Send young American entrepreneurs to underdeveloped communities to help create small businesses that would economically benefit those communities
Create schools in rural areas to teach local people how to become entrepreneurs
Create a private equity fund to help immigrants in developed countries finance business development in their countries of origin

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