Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Year Later Google Project 10^100 Final Themes Announced

A year to the day of it introduction Google's Project 10^100 finally has a list of finalist for the world to vote on. The program, which asked for ideas that could change the world by helping as many people as possible, was originally launched exactly one year ago (in honor of the company’s 10th birthday).

The program was such a hit that it has taken the company an entire year to weed through the more than 150,000 submissions to narrow them down to 16 different overall theme ideas. Voting was meant to start in October of last year and the one final project to be chosen in January 2009. The response was such that Google was a bit overwhelmed, even with more than 3,000 Googlers in offices around the world reviewing the submissions.

In a blog post posted this afternoon Google said they will be accepting votes over the next two weeks. Upon gathering your votes they will send the top selections to an advisory board that will then choose up to five winning ideas that will receive funding. After that, the company will present the finalists and ask for proposals from individuals or organizations that can implement these ideas.

The public is invited to vote for your choice of any of the following sixteen ideas:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Build real-time, user-reported news service

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Google is doing a great thing here and the Project 10^100 is an effort that should be applauded so everyone should get over there and and vote to help them choose the theme or idea they like the most.


  1. Doesn't Build real-time, user-reported news service already exist in a little thing called the internet?

  2. Yeah between that and the 'Create real-world issue reporting system' those seem pretty redundant to what we already have here on the web. Last time I checked millions of people were doing this via blogs, Twitter and other social media type sites.


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