We are now thrilled to announce the shortlist that made our final 10, each of which deserves plaudits for the work they are doing. From algorithms designed to actively identify and run machine learning models with reduced bias, to the use of bio-acoustic signatures to identify and respond to illegal logging, many were uplifting as well as innovative.
We will be announcing our three finalists later this month.
In alphabetical order meanwhile, The Stack’s 2021 Tech for Good awards shortlist is below. (Missed the application deadline? Applications for our 2022 awards open January 3).
The Stack’s 2021 Tech for Good Awards Shortlist
WANdisco and Blancco’s Laptops for Kids campaign sourced 14,000 devices for children studying from home during the Covid-19 outbreak, across the north of England. Blancco, a UK-based data erasure and mobile device diagnostics specialist, deserves inclusion in The Stack’s 2021 Tech for Good Awards not just for its efforts to help tackle a digital divide that became visibily pronounced during the pandemic, but for its work bringing students into the project helping clean up donated machines in a project that fosters a culture of privacy awareness and cyber hygiene.
Bright Data’s “Bright Initiative” aims to provide a home for organisations seeking to use data for good, providing its tech operations and products, pro-bono, to benefit important missions. The Bright Initiative currently supports over 45 projects that aid NGOs, NPOs, and academic institutions and is built on three pillars: data to benefit society as a whole and to fight injustice; data to drive forward web integrity; and data-driven education for responsible conduct. Among the projects that deserve recognition: HTI Labs‘s use of Bright Data’s web scraping capabilities to identify potential trafficking networks within the commercial sex industry.
Fathom’s work using geospatial data and algorithms to transform the world of flood modelling is tackling a huge and growing challenge. Flooding has caused $2 trillion worth of damages since 1950 and in 2020, five of the six deadliest events were seasonal floods — in India, Pakistan, Nepal, China and Bangladesh. Fathom’s technology (used by insurers, development agencies, conservation agencies, emergency responders and multinationals) is the first to factor future climate change for multiple time horizons into its models rather than relying solely on historic records. Its models predict flood risk at a 90-metre resolution for over 220 countries around the world: regions traditionally considered ‘data-scarce’ now have information on their flood risk available. The technology is niche, it’s complex, and it could well save thousands of lives.
Feedzai’s Fairband is the world’s first open, inexpensive, flexible framework to build fairer AI models. Created to address bias in the digital age, specifically AI, it discovers less biased machine learning models automatically and with zero additional model training cost. The tool, still in its infancy (it rolled out in Q2, 2021) but underpinned by robust academic work, can be used with any fairness metric (e.g., equal opportunity or false positive rate), any model metric rate (e.g., precision or recall), any sensitive attribute (e.g., age, gender, race), any algorithm (e.g., neural networks, random forests), either model settings (e.g., punitive such as recidivism forecasting or assistive such as grant approvals) and has almost universal domain applicability.
Hitachi Vantara’s partnership with NGO Rainforest Connection helps protect vital natural ecosystems using the world’s first platform for generating real-time data on deforestation activity. Rainforest Connection’s tree-based digital mics detect the sounds of illegal logging in real-time and alert rangers, but too often by the time responders had arrived, the damage was done. Hitachi Vantara’s Lumada data analytics technologies works on the princile that the “bio-acoustic signature” of a rainforest area changes dramatically even before deforestation begins: species that are typically quiet send alarm calls and species that are typically vocal go quiet. By helping Rainforest Connection spot deviations from the baseline, it helps predict with 96% accuracy, up to five days in advance, when the chainsaws are going to start rumbling.
Kooth’s anonymous digital counselling and support service is the only digital mental health provider to hold a UK-wide accreditation from the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). Users can access one-to-one anonymous counselling sessions, with fully trained and qualified counsellors: sessions can be booked in advance or they can drop-in for one-to-one instant chats. In a world of often hard-to-source mental health support, it has been a lifeline for many particularly during the pressures brought about by extended lockdown. Kooth’s anonymised datasets are also being used to identify clusters of mental health issues across demographics and geographies, helping to inform policy responses and resource allocation.
OneTrust’s 150 patents and innovations have seen it reach more than than 9,000 customers, including half of the Fortune 500 — who use it to implement central agile workflows across privacy, security, data governance, GRC, third-party risk, ethics and compliance, and ESG programs. The company’s OneTrust Athena, for example, taps machine learning, and RPA to discover and classify data, flag risk and suggest remediation actions based on the context of that data, and suggest program improvements to simplify compliance. Handy for customers; also genuinely important for consumer privacy. OneTrust’s been quick to respond to legislative changes too, rapidly rolling out a “Schrems II” tool to ensure data is protected via pre-built templates to assess third countries, perform Transfer Impact Assessments (TIAs).
As global organizations strive to fight climate change, they lack a broad set of tools to assemble, calculate, manage, plan, and report organisational carbon footprints with the same confidence that they manage their financial transactions. Persefoni’s enterprise platform for carbon accounting and management uses analytics and AI to help large organisations calculate and reduce their carbon footprints. The outcome: enterprises can systematically lower the environmental impact of their operations by turning raw data aggregated across multiple business units into data-driven, actionable insights, with a full map of their carbon footprint, empowering businesses to understand and ultimately reduce the environmental impact of their operations.
ServiceNow was among the fastest corporate responders technologically to the Covid-19 outbreak, releasing four emergency response apps in March 2020 at no charge to help organisations adapt to the fast-changing circumstances. Adopters includes the City of San Francisco, which used them to help support its healthcare institutions, law enforcement and fire services. As the pandemic evolved and work on vaccines gained pace, ServiceNow also developed a highly effective Vaccine Administration Management solution, which has supported more than 20 million people. Adopters included NHS Scotland, which used the tool to develop its vaccine management system in just eight weeks.
City Harvest London is a registered charity that takes surplus food that would otherwise be thrown away, and uses it in to feed the hungry. The organisation works with over 340 charities. The initial nationwide lockdown in the UK raised a number of logistical issues for City Harvest. TIBCO Labs helped it build a cloud-based platform for connecting supply and demand, optimising logistics, and successfully scaling to meet a huge surge in demand. The two also built a low code app to help improve comms with its charity network and direct food most effectively. In 2020, working with these tools, City Harvest delivered 7.9 million meals, 100% greater than the 3.8 million meals rescued and donated to partner charities in 2019.