Today is World Water Day. It’s a day when we can be thankful for the clean water coming out of our taps and turn the world’s attention to the 800 million people still living without access to clea... read more.
We first met Rick Smolan six years ago. He was working on a book project called Blue Planet Run — an elaborate collection of photos and stories about our planet’s scarce water resources. He asked to use one of our photos from a well in Ethiopia in the first pages of the book, and we’ve been friends and fans of each other’s work ever since. Now, we’re excited to be a part of Rick’s next book project — The Human Face of Big Data. With this new venture, he’s set out to bring vast amounts of information to life through visual storytelling – something we know a lot about here at charity: water.
When the book first launched, Rick’s team donated $1 for every download of the Big Data App and raised $50,000 to fund clean water projects in Ethiopia. Next up, they’ve launched an iPad App on iTunes and 100% of the profits will support charity: water.
You can support charity: water projects by downloading the Big Data App for $2.99 here. 100% of the profits fund clean water projects around the world.
Here’s an inverview with Rick — he shared with us what it’s like to interpret Big Data for a living and how we can apply it to our work in the field.
How do you explain the concept of Big Data to the average person?
My 10 year-old son recently heard me speaking on the phone about this project and asked me asked me what Big Data is. I said, “Imagine if the whole human race had been looking through one eye for all of our existence and all of a sudden, scientists gave us the ability to open up a second eye. You’re not just getting more information, more data; you’re literally getting a whole new dimension. You’re getting depth and perspective, 3D vision. That’s what Big Data is, not simply more information but a new way to see or extract meaning from a sea of information.” Simply put, Big Data is giving us a brand new way to see things.
Why did you decide to donate 100% of the app’s profits to charity: water?
Our team was inspired by their efforts to raise awareness of the fact that one in nine people do not have access to a basic human need like clean, safe water. It seemed like an obvious choice to support charity: water by donating all proceeds of The Human Face of Big Data iPad app to their worthy cause. And the fact that 100% of our donation will directly fund projects in developing countries was a pull.
What was your overall goal in producing The Human Face of Big Data?
The ability to collect, analyze, triangulate and visualize vast amounts of data in real time is something the human race has never had before. This new set of tools–otherwise known as “Big Data”–has begun to emerge as a new approach to addressing some of the the world’s biggest challenges, and we thought this would be the perfect time to spark a thoughtful global conversation about a set of emerging technologies that could truly change the world.
You have also released an interactive iPad app to supplement the stories told in the book. Why was it important to you to use the iPad as another way to bring these stories to life?
The iPad has profoundly changed the ways people consume and experience content, and we felt it was important to take advantage of this exciting new medium in a way that hasn’t been done before. The Human Face of Big Data iPad app is one of the most innovative ways we’ve used technology to tell a story. It will feature all the stories in the book as well as interactive content that allows the reader to go deeper and learn even more about these compelling stories. The app costs $2.99 and is available for download (iTunes). 100% of profits from app downloads will be donated to charity: water.
Visual storytelling is very important to our work at charity: water. How did you come up with the photographs that appear in the book?
We spent months finding photographs and compiling assignments for professional photographers that we dispatched all around the world. The pictures have an amazing sense of intimacy – people in more than 30 countries are featured and in every case the theme is about how data, sometimes big and sometimes soon to be big, is touching such an astounding array of human life around the world today.
You can learn more about the Human Face of Big Data’s campaign for Ethiopia by visiting their mycharity: water profile at http://mycharitywater.org/the-human-face-of-big-data
It’s been an incredible year at charity: water. We made this video to capture some of the highlights of 2012 and to celebrate you, our amazing supporters. But the year is not over yet. You can still donate and help people in need. 100% directly funds clean water projects.
Monday night was unforgettable. We hosted our 7th annual charity: ball gala at the 69th Regiment Armory in NYC, and more than 1,800 of you joined us. Seth Meyers of Saturday Night Live hosted the evening and we raised over $3 million in one night. We want to say thank you to everyone who made it out to NYC and celebrated with us.
The Waterwalk is a constant at every charity: ball — but this year we built it around a circle stage in the middle of the room. We asked guests to walk a fraction of the distance that people in developing countries walk to bring water home to their families. For every person who walked, W Hotels and TOMS each donated $250 to water projects in India. We raised $500,000 through the Waterwalk alone.
The Live Auction.
We’re not fans of long, stuffy sit-down galas, but instead, we treat the night like a huge celebration… a big party. We’re all about trying new things at charity: water so this year, we tried out a completely new concept during the live auction. Years ago, we abandoned the traditional model of selling vacation packages, expensive watches and handbags, and turned our Live Auction into a pure giving event. But there was one thing that still bugged us — the price tags remained high. The auction worked, and we always raised money, but it alienated a lot of our guests. So this year, we decided to turn the concept upside down, and start low. We started the auction by asking guests to join at a minimum of just $200. Then they had the opportunity to move up to levels of $500, $1000, $5000 and finally, $50,000. It worked. In 25 minutes, we had $800,000 in pledges from more than 200 people.
Here are some photos from the evening:
Photos by Adam Mason, Audrey Rudolf, Josh Wong/Guest of a Guest, Matthew Borowick, Nancy Borowick
A huge thank you.
We’d like to thank our incredible corporate partners and key supporters for making this night possible.
Special Thanks to the following people for making charity: ball possible.
4AM / AAA Flag and Banner / A-List / Alex Hurst / Aggreko / Andrew Bell / Ani Quinn / AVS / Barnard / Blue Media / BNW Rigging / Bridget Sheils / Cash Cash / Christian Haberkern / Chelsea Leyland / Cort / Cube Passes / Dana Tanamachi / Daniel Lara / David Terban / Dazian / Drape Kings / Dream Center / Duggal / Erica Eng / Eric Rodriguez / The Jane Doze / Justin Demetrician / Justin Lawes / Katie Barnard / Larry Lucente / LeapStarr / Mancel Lindsey / Matt Stevenson / May Kwok / MB Productions / Metro Catering / Milk Studios / Nat Wittstruck / No. 8 / The Park / PartyRental / Polite in Public / Post Imaging / ProVision / Rainbow Broadband / Robert Hodgin / Rob Schlissel / Shawn Moon / Spoke Visuals / Starbright Florals / Starlite / SteelDeck / Strategic Group / SuperTouch / TekServe / Tracee Hollman / Uber / Yelena Teplitskaya
We’re proud to announce that charity: water is a recipient of a Global Impact Award from Google.
The first projects we ever built were six wells in a refugee camp in Uganda. We wanted to prove to our donors that their money was spent exactly how we said it would be, and where it went.
So we walked into an electronics store and bought a handheld GPS device for $100. We took it to Uganda, went to each project and plotted six points on Google Maps™. Then we made the information public on our website along with the photos for everyone to see. We’ve been doing that ever since.
Fast forward six years later, and we’ve now funded over 6,994 water projects in 20 countries that will serve more than 2.5 million people. And although we’ve continued to map every single water project, we don’t think knowing their location is good enough anymore. We want to know whether each one of them is working right now, in real time.
Today, we’re excited to announce that we’re launching a $5 million pilot project with Google to develop remote sensor technology that will tell us whether water is flowing at any of our projects, at any given time, anywhere in the world. Google has funded this entire initiative through the new Global Impact Awards. This award will help charity: water further advance transparency and sustainability in the water sector.
Although our staff and local partners visit our programs frequently, it’s simply not possible to visit every project often enough to ensure that water is flowing all the time. Thanks to this Global Impact Award from Google, we’ll be able to go from hoping that projects function over time, to knowing that they are.
Over the next few years, we’ll develop and install 4,000 low-cost remote sensors in our existing and new water projects in several countries.
These sensors will transmit real-time data to us and our partners, and eventually to you, the donor.
But just knowing the status of projects isn’t good enough. If a breakdown occurs, there needs to be a system in place to ensure that it gets fixed quickly. That’s why an important part of this pilot will be to continue training and establishing local mechanic programs all over the world who can dispatch to communities within their reach and make repairs. This will create new jobs and small business entrepreneurs in places where they don’t exist today.
We know the data will uncover new challenges, but we’re excited and committed to meet them head on. We’ve used Google Maps™ to innovate over the last six years, and today we’re incredibly excited to work with Google on remote sensor technology, this time to further increase transparency for our donors, and to deliver water more reliably than ever before, to the people who need it most.
We’re proud to be one of the launch partners for #GivingTuesday — an initiative aiming to ‘officially launch the giving season’ following the sales rush of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
If you’re thinking about how to give back this holiday season, check out a few of our partners who’ve joined #GivingTuesday by supporting our holiday campaign for 100 Wells in Ethiopia.
Bonobos Blue Collection
Our friends at Bonobos launched a charity: water collaboration with a goal to build at least two wells in Ethiopia. Purchase any item from their Blue Collection and they’ll donate $5 for clean water. Visit their site to see some of their offerings, including their much-buzzed about pants, shirts and a charity: water branded iPhone case.
Match.com Stir Events
Match.com’s Stir events are bringing cause-minded people around the country together on #GivingTuesday to help fund a charity: water well in Ethiopia. Tonight they’ll hold happy hour events in 17 cities across the country, donating every cent of ticket sales to charity: water’s holiday campaign.
Other World Computing
This holiday season, Other World Computing has set out to raise $125,000 to fund water projects in Ethiopia. To help reach their goal, they’re donating $5 to charity: water for every new follower of their @macsales Twitter account on #GivingTuesday. Keep an eye on their mycharity: water campaign page as well to watch their progress!
Give directly to charity: water
If you just want to make a donation to charity: water, we’ve got a few options this holiday season. Visit our donate page to learn more. 100% of every dollar you give will fund water projects in developing countries.
How will you spend your #GivingTuesday?