Established in 2003, Gawad Kalinga (GK), which translates as ‘to give care’ in the Filipino language, is an organization dedicated to a wide range of nonprofit and community work — working towards the goal of alleviating poverty for five million families across the Philippines by 2024.
Having experienced unprecedented growth in its operations over the past few years, GK started collaborating with Microsoft Philippines in 2008 to bolster its information technology (IT) infrastructure in order to keep up with the evolving needs of local communities. Through Microsoft’s software grant programme, GK has been utilising tools such as Microsoft SharePoint® and ProjectTM software to improve data management, communications and project tracking across its various departments.
Issa Cuevas-Santos, Director for Systems and IT at Gawad Kalinga, said, “We have been able to utilise SharePoint to facilitate better team collaboration among our own employees and volunteer base, providing them with systems and tools that simplify work processes and improve efficiency. With SharePoint operating as our ‘mobile office’ across disparate locations, we are also able to keep track of our critical files and documents, share information and manage our schedules more efficiently.”
Another example of how GK has been able to utilise the latest technology is the development of its social mobilisation platform. The website — which is built on a Microsoft platform — serves to connect its volunteers and communities around the world while generating significant cost savings in terms of communication expenses.
Microsoft technology is also integral to the development of GK Unity, a web-based software which is the operational support system and database for GK communities and its global funding partners. GK Unity incorporates key workflow features for the organisation to manage partner pledges, needs matching, programme tracking, as well as a directory of key personnel and partners.
Equally significant to the success of its nonprofit work, the integration between GK Unity and GK1World has also made it easier for funding partners to have a better view of the transformation and social impact in communities that GK serves.
Ms Cuevas-Santos said, “Technology has a big role to play in terms of improving how we share useful information and best practices with GK-related communities. As we engage more partners and increase the scale of our work, robust IT systems will play a bigger role in allowing us to earn the trust and respect of our volunteers and funding partners through sharing the impact of our community work in a more immediate and transparent manner.”
Solite Studio, Indonesia’s National Winner, has been announced as the Worldwide Runner-up for the Games Competition at Imagine Cup 2013 with their ‘Save the Hamster’ project!
Built on the Windows® Phone platform, ‘Save the Hamster’ is a game app that serves as a learning tool for young people to exercise their mental arithmetic skills in a fun and engaging manner.
Coming from a virtually unknown campus, Universitas Trunojoyo Madura, the team was considered the underdogs in the local competition. They came, they saw and then won against much more experienced Indonesian teams from award-league campuses such as ITB and IT Telkom. And now they have taken the world stage and flown Indonesia’s flag proudly for all the world to see!
This win was not a surprise. A lot of people at the worldwide finals in St Petersburg, Russia, said that Team Solite Studio’s presentation was one of the few where the audience gave several rounds of applause. Judges were surprised to know that Save the Hamsters had been downloaded 30,000 times in just two weeks (20,000 times on Windows Phone and 10,000 on Windows 8). A lot of Microsoft employees came to the booth, played the game and then returned with other people due to the cute and fun game.
Judges from other categories came over to the booth just to check on this “cute game that people have been talking about”. And, Team Solite Studio even received a few “please call me” invitations from venture capitalists during the Public Exhibition.
“Several people told us that they are willing to bet that Solite Studio would be on the stage during the Awards Night, and they were correct! A 1st place winner would have been fantastic, but Worldwide Runner-up is also an amazing achievement!” exclaimed Irving Hutagalung of Microsoft Indonesia’s Developer and Platform Group who attended the finals with the winning team.
It has been an amazing journey for Solite Studio - congratulations!
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From showcasing the use of technology and supporting philanthropic activities to unlocking the potential of game applications as advanced learning tools, student teams from Asia put up a strong showing at the 11th Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals where 87 student teams from 71 countries competed for fame, glory and prize money — by showcasing how their cutting-edge technology projects can solve some of the most challenging problems facing the world.
Need to simplify the diagnosis and management process of medical imaging such as MRI and CT scans? Just ask Team MYRA from Thailand for their solution that clinched third place in the Innovation category for their SkyPACS project.
Want to teach young people to exercise their mental arithmetic skills in a fun and engaging manner? Play Save the Hamster, an app that won Team Solite Studio from Indonesia first runner-up in the Games category.
What do you get when you combine a smart phone app that replaces a traditional hearing aid with a cloud service to identify potential hearing problems, and throw in a sound processing technology that enhances the quality of all forms of vocal communication? An award winning app, created by Team Omni-Hearing Solution from Taiwan, that finished second place in both the World Citizenship app category and the Women’s Empowerment Award.
Got extra food that you can donate to those in need? Australia’s Team Confufish Royale created an app to help make these connections with a Foodbank Local solution that finished third in the World Citizenship app category.
Imagine Cup is part of the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative to create opportunities for millions of young people around the world. This year's winners were announced at the Imagine Cup Awards Ceremony on 11 July, held at the historic Alexandrinsky Theater in St Petersburg, Russia. The event was attended by more than 800 students, judges, award partners, Russian dignitaries and members of the media from around the world.
Not only do students have a chance to learn new development skills, the Imagine Cup also provides students with a platform to gain first-hand experience in working with industry partners to successfully develop their projects, giving them a huge step toward seeing their projects succeed in the real world.
Brad Lorge of Team Confufish Royale said, “We are going to launch the system within weeks and it is down to the passion and dedication of our partners. Their mentorship and support has changed every member of our team, and we would do it all again just for that experience.”
This year’s Imagine Cup competition also featured a series of exclusive online challenges, providing more opportunities for learning, prototyping and creating apps using Microsoft technologies. Several Asian student teams performed remarkably well in the following product-specific challenges:
* In the Windows AzureTM challenge, Team Y-Nots from India developed the Zoik It! app to enable people to connect easily with each other through common interests, while Team LetssGo from China delivered the Get & Put app that enables the human body to be the "courier" of virtual data.
* In the Windows® Phone challenge, Team vSoft Studio from Singapore made a strong impression with its Speak Reminder app that provides a fast way to create a reminder via mobile devices using speech control, while Team Clever Mind from Thailand developed the Vocable World app as an interactive vocabulary learning tool for language learners.
In addition to the Competitions and Challenges, students competed for the following special awards from Imagine Cup sponsors:
* AFT (App Fast Track) Excellence Award, including a review by the WindowsTeam to enhance their projects and deliver great Windows 8 apps, went to Team Lumos from Korea and their app that provides a new way of enjoying music through projection mapping.
* The Samsung Digital Native Award that honours fresh thinking, digital savvy and global perspective of its project went to Team Firebird from Sri Lanka, who developed an app that helps blind and visually impaired people conduct their daily activities with greater ease.
“The students participating in the Imagine Cup competition demonstrate the very best in innovation from their home countries and together are creating new apps, innovations and services that will change the way the world works, interacts and learns,” said Steve Guggenheimer, Corporate Vice President and Chief Evangelist at Microsoft. “We are incredibly proud of the finalists who competed in Imagine Cup this year and stand in awe of the projects and technology that they brought forth during this exciting week.”
Microsoft China pledged RMB 1 million (USD162,000) worth of donations and 1,000 emergency relief packages in response to the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Ya’an city in Sichuan province in April, which caused at least 192 deaths and left more than 11,000 people injured.
In aid of the relief operations in Sichuan, senior Microsoft China executives — including Ralph Haupter, Vice President and CEO of Microsoft Greater China Region, and Ya-Qin Zhang, Vice President and Chairman of Microsoft Asia-Pacific R&D Group, and David Chen, Vice President and General Manager of Legal and Corporate Affairs — convened within hours after the earthquake struck to initiate an emergency response programme and support first responder organisations.
The first batch of relief packages provided by Microsoft reached the main disaster area in Ya’an in less than 10 hours after the earthquake, while the pledged donations were delivered via the nonprofit groups YouCheng Foundation and One Foundation. Microsoft’s contributions were recognised by several senior government officials in Sichuan.
“We were focused on putting together a quick response to deliver critical aid effectively to the Sichuan Ya’an earthquake relief efforts. Our thoughts are with the victims and the affected families, and Microsoft will continue to contribute to helping the Chinese government and humanitarian workers rebuild the affected communities in Sichuan after the earthquake,” said Mr Haupter.
During the Sichuan earthquake, Microsoft also played a leading role in offering local nonprofits technical assistance on disaster relief monitoring, while helping to provide updated information and drive awareness of the relief efforts via the MSN and Bing platforms.
Microsoft China has been encouraging its employees to help raise funds and support the charity organisations involved with the ongoing relief efforts in the disaster-stricken communities — by 8 May, 408 Microsoft China employees and vendors had donated a total of RMB 329,221 (USD53,334) through the employee individual donation programme.
Members of the Microsoft Shanghai (MSSH) Music Club initiated a concert to further encourage local staff to donate and continue supporting the online employee donation programme. The concert was held on 8 May, and the MSSH Music Club members put together the programme and rehearsed the musical performances over the span of only one week. The fundraising concert attracted more than 100 employees.
“Our goal is to provide financial aid as well as our love and care to make a difference to the lives of the people in Ya’an who were affected by the earthquake,” said Jolie Zheng, the Founder and Chairwoman of the MSSH Music Club.
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