At the NGO Day 2013, Ms Wong Sau Wa, chief executive of The Church of United Brethren in Christ Social Service Division, shared the need for a modern social tool which enables NGOs to get closer to the younger generation. They are one of the NGOs trialing a cloud-based social and collaboration solution built upon Microsoft SharePoint Online. They consider this tool useful as it empowers them to identify target groups in a timely way and get intelligence from a user-friendly dashboard for more effective outreach. Internally, the solution also provides an integrated platform where they can collaborate easily with teams and even external experts, allowing them to better manage a large volume of cases and projects in an easy, convenient and secure manner.
Microsoft Hong Kong showcased the latest cloud-based social networking and collaboration technologies at NGO Day 2013, showing its commitment to empowering NGOs to take the big leap into the next-generation social service model. This initiative is part of Microsoft’s continued efforts in offering innovative cloud-based support and a platform for NGOs. Together with Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS), the aim is to improve service quality among NGOs, helping them stay close with their beneficiaries in a secure environment through innovation and information technology.
“The adoption of cloud computing among NGOs has been trending up since we launched the ‘Cloud Unlimited for a Better Hong Kong’ Programme in 2012. When we first started, the NGOs using Office365 were only those of a smaller scale. However, nowadays large NGOs with hundreds and thousands of users are also adopting it. In the past 12 months alone, Microsoft has also donated over 3,150 software licenses amounting to HK$12,000,000 to local NGOs through the ‘TechDonation Programme’ to empower NGOs to take advantage of information technology in service quality enhancement,” said Horace Chow, General Manager, Microsoft Hong Kong.
The NGO Day also unveiled the latest survey findings on the effectiveness of NGOs leveraging social networking tools to reach out to young people in Hong Kong. The survey was commissioned by Microsoft and HKCSS and conducted by the Public Opinion Programme at the University of Hong Kong (HKUPOP) in May 2013.
Findings from the survey indicated that social networking websites are the most common channel used by NGOs to communicate with a younger demographic. With the proliferation of social websites and various mediums of communication, NGOs are in need of a more advanced and unified social platform to further improve the quality of their youth services, and increased support from the government in terms of subsidies for hardware and software, plus training. Taking data privacy into consideration, some NGOs are considering migration of its social networking platform from a public cloud to a private cloud.
“The survey revealed that social workers have been consistently using social media as a communication and service provision channel. HKCSS believes this trend will soon be replicated,” said Christine Fang, Chief Executive, HKCSS. “We appreciate Microsoft’s pioneering efforts and timely support to bring in next-generation innovations to NGOs, with its deep understanding of NGO’s pain points and constraints in IT development due to lack of resources and knowledge. Only with such a partnership and longsighted government policy will NGOs be able to keep enhancing their services to the community without compromising agility, effectiveness, security and privacy.”
Concluded Microsoft’s Chow: “Social technology, enabled by cloud, may be relatively new from an organizational perspective, but it’s already an inseparable part of the day-to-day lives for tens of millions of people. Social networks empower NGOs to be more productive through its strong connection between people, knowledge and information, thus enabling effective collaboration across teams, locations and time zones.”
NGO Day is an annual event held by Microsoft and HKCSS to help local NGOs enhance service delivery to the community by harnessing the power of IT. This year’s event was attended by close to 200 representatives from Hong Kong’s public, private and NGO sectors.
Read more details on the survey: The effectiveness of NGOs leveraging social networking tools to reach out to young people in Hong Kong.
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.”
This is part of a series of YouthSpark profiles where we highlight young people in Asia who are dedicated to changing the world through technology, and inspiring others along the way.
Meet Karishma Daswani: Housewife. Home-maker. Entrepreneur. These are just some of the many faces of a modern Indian woman.
For many years it was taken for granted that a woman would always put her family before her career. Once she was house-bound, she could only contribute towards her family. All her previous education, her skills, her work experience were to be locked up, of no further use to anyone.
It is precisely this mindset that Karishma Daswani and Femme Hire are trying to change.
Having taken a sabbatical from her very successful career at an HR consulting firm, Karishma found it challenging to use her skills to some productive use. A quick shout out on social media channels told her that there were quite a number of women out there who felt the same. Women who took breaks from their career either found it difficult to get back into the work-stream or home based work opportunities did not match their skills. It was then that Karishma decided to turn this challenge into opportunity. And Femme Hire was born. In her own words, “As an educated woman in India seeking financial independence, I was focused on my passion, work satisfaction andfinancial expectations – along with a desire to maintain work life balance. These very requirements are what gave birth to my own business.”
Started as a personal blog trying to identify relevant opportunities for women, Femme Hire soon grew into a full-fledged resource site for women trying to utilize their skills without compromising their home life. A mentorship with the Cherie Blair Foundation helped Karishma formalize her plans and put together an end-to-end business model. This was a very fruitful experience, especially since her mentor was a working woman herself. It was during this period that the idea of the Femme Hire shop was born – an online store that leveraged traditional craft skills of rural women and provided them with market access for their products. Keenly supported by her family, the Femme Hire shop went online in mid-2012.
The initiative was soon picked up the Microsoft BizSpark Challenge which provided much need training in the latest technology and cloud computing which could be used to optimize the business process. BizSpark also helped them save costs by providing free access to the latest Microsoft technology.
Today Femme Hire has graduated from being a marketing medium to providing training to women in rural India. Currently the project involves working with women’s self-help groups in the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The project has actively engaged with government and international to get much needed recognition and a fair market price for these products.
Karishma now wants to use her Microsoft Innovate for Good experience to expand her geographical spread to the rest of the country. And she’s counting on her new friends from the Innovate for Good community to turn Femme Hire into a truly social, crowd-sourced, crowd-managed enterprise.
Editor’s Note: Microsoft Innovate for Good, a Microsoft YouthSpark programme, is a global community enabling youth to collaborate, inspire and support each other while using technology to make a difference in their communities.
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!
Many people know Microsoft as a world-leading global corporation. But at its heart, Microsoft is a student startup founded by a couple of passionate young innovators with an idea. Students are often vanguards for the future of technology – and with the right tools and support, they have the potential to create innovations that can redefine our lives. It’s in that spirit that Microsoft launched the Imagine Cup student technology competition in 2003.
Now in its eleventh year, the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals are underway this week in St. Petersburg, Russia. The finals event is the culmination of a year of hard work, with more than 300 students from 71 countries advancing to the finals from local, regional and online competitions. We are thrilled to see these student technologists and entrepreneurs take center stage as they demonstrate their amazing ideas brought to life through software.
Today’s students are digital natives who easily see beyond a single technology or app to envision how software, hardware and the cloud can work together in new and inventive ways. More than a third of this year’s Worldwide Finalists are using Windows, Windows Phone and Windows Azure together across platforms and devices. Following on the heels of Build, there are even more ways that developers can use an integrated devices and services platform across Windows.
I hope you’ll join us at 7:30 a.m. PT on Thursday, 11 July, at www.imaginecup.com to see the winners of this year’s competition announced by Matt Smith, of BBC’s Dr. Who, via live streaming.
We wish the best of luck to all competitors, and encourage students with the next big idea to go to www.dreamspark.com to download the tools to get started, and consider signing up to participate in the next Imagine Cup global competition!
This is an excerpt from a post by Steve Guggenheimer, Corporate Vice President of Developer Platform & Evangelism at Microsoft. The full story was originally published on The Official Microsoft Blog.
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