This grant is part of $41 million in software and cash donated to NetHope and The Interagency Working Group on Emergency Capacity Building (ECB) – groups leading non-governmental organizations (NGO) such as WCS – to enable efficient and rapid communications during times of crises, when speed, collaboration and efficiency can make a true difference in people's lives.
"Microsoft is proud to partner with the Wildlife Conservation Society to drive further adoption of technology that can speed information when it is most critical," said Microsoft New York-New Jersey District General Manager Michael Robinson. "We at Microsoft believe it is important to help improve humanitarian efforts through financial donations, technical resources and the volunteer efforts of our employees worldwide. This grant is directed at improving collaboration, communication and connections among agencies, which is one of the most vital issues our NGO partners are trying to solve."
NetHope (www.nethope.org) is a membership organization comprised of the chief information officers and chief technology officers of 17 global NGOs working to apply the power of Information and Communication Technologies to make a positive impact on educational, environmental, healthcare and relief services.
WCS saves wildlife and wild lands through careful science, international conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. The organization is committed to this work on account of the belief that it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. These activities change individual attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in sustainable interaction on both a local and a global scale. WCS is one of the two conservation partners within Nethope and its unique coverage of each of the main developing regions in the world ensures Microsoft's grant will truly have a global conservation impact.
"We are pleased to receive this generous gift from Microsoft," said Dr. Josh Ginsberg, WCS's Vice President for Conservation Operations. "This grant will help us upgrade our entire software infrastructure and give us the tools we need to continue our mission."
Specifically, WCS will use Microsoft's donation to aid major systems upgrades, moving from an IT infrastructure that often has been cobbled together over time and across a number of global offices to a more unified platform using Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Office.
"I applaud Microsoft for helping support the important work of organizations like the Wildlife Conservation Society," said Congressman José E. Serrano. "I know that WCS will put this software to good use promoting conservation around the globe. It is great to see a local Bronx organization making a difference in the world."
Microsoft knows from experience that technology can make a difference in disaster response. During the Kosovo crisis, the company worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to create The Refugee Field Kit, which provides displaced people with new, official identity cards and an easier method for finding family members. This use of technology essentially changed how the UNHCR had dealt with refugees for 50 years. Last year, Catholic Relief Services and Microsoft developed a portal solution to accelerate global relief response to the South Asian earthquake and tsunami.
More recently, as Hurricane Katrina hit the Southern United States, one of Microsoft's database architects in Birmingham, Ala., knew that there would be a need for people separated from their families to contact loved ones. As a result, Microsoft engineers worked nonstop for four days to develop KatrinaSafe.org, an online tool used by the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas to help evacuees find family members separated by the crisis. The site was built in partnership with technology partners and non-profits. KatrinaSafe.org shares data with Yahoo!, Google and others for the purpose of assisting families misplaced by this natural disaster.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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