N Square Talks Nuclear Risks at PopTech


N Square, the collaborative we’re supporting to bring new players and new ideas into the nuclear realm, presented at PopTech’s annual shindig a couple of weeks back. Erika Gregory, N Square’s executive director and Carl Robichaud, who leads the nuclear work at the Carnegie Corporation of New York, one of the collaborative’s funding partners (along with the Hewlett and MacArthur Foundations, the Ploughshares Fund and us), presented from the main stage. Their talk provides good insights into why people should care about the nuclear issue and how N Square is working to reframe how people approach it.  Have a look!


Angry Birds Get Angry for Climate


We provided some support for a climate change-focused Angry Birds Friends tournament, which kicked off today. We hope to be able to get good insights from the game about what kinds of climate messages seem to engage players the most. Plus, it’s fun! So we hope you’ll play. The Angry Birds folks were able to enlist a lot of global celebrities in creating the game. Watch the launch video below.

EpiHack for Mass Gatherings Kicks Off in Rio


We, along with our partners OpenDream, Epitrack, and InSTEDD, are hosting an EpiHack in Rio to explore the potential for participatory disease surveillance at mass gatherings. By letting people report on their own symptoms, can we get a better handle on disease outbreaks at big events like the World Cup, music festivals, the Olympics and more? We helped support a pilot project for mass gathering surveillance for the World Cup in Brazil last year. This week in Rio, hackers and public health officials from 11 countries around the world will work to develop concepts and, potentially, a prototype application for participatory surveillance for mass gatherings generally. You can track developments via the hashtag #hackforhealth, or following our partners twitter feeds at @epitrack, @opendream, @instedd, or @epihack.


Skoll Joins White House-Led Public-Private Partnership on Climate Resilience


The Skoll Global Threats Fund is a founding partner of the Climate Services for Resilient Development initiative, a public-private partnership launched by the White House today to provide climate services – including actionable science, data, information, tools, and training – to developing countries to strengthen their resilience to climate impacts. The other founding partners, in addition to the U.S. government, are the American Red Cross, Asian Development Bank, Esri, Google, Inter-American Development Bank, and the U.K. Government.  Our President, Annie Maxwell, participated on a panel of the founding partners at the launch event held at the United States Institute for Peace. You can read more about the partnership on the White House website here.

Moving from Response toward Recovery in Nepal


In April, Nepal experienced a devastating earthquake and series of aftershocks that left more than 8,500 people killed and 20,000 injured. A number of Skoll Global Threats Fund grantees and partners are based in Nepal – they and their immediate families thankfully emerged safe. As the country transitions from immediate response towards medium and long-term recovery efforts, Skoll Global Threats Fund is providing support for our partners’ activities:

Following the earthquake of April 25, The Asia Foundation, in collaboration with 44 local NGOs and organizations, provided rapid emergency relief and assessment. Rapid, catalytic grants and relief materials have been provided to address emergency needs of over 20,000 survivors. Now entering the fifth week of post-quake assistance, The Asia Foundation has begun transitioning from relief to recovery, working closely with Nepali partners to support longer-term rebuilding efforts:  providing legal, dispute resolution, psychosocial, protection and education support services for marginalized/vulnerable communities; collaborating with village and municipal groups to assess and manage local dissatisfaction surrounding relief efforts; and conducting relief impact assessments and public perception surveys to track the public mood, as well as other social and relief-related issues.

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is drawing on its technical expertise to create a Task Force on Geo-hazards to assess the impact of geophysical hazards like landslides and avalanches, and monitor potential hazards, including glacial lake outbursts, rivers blocked by landslides, and the threat of landslides in areas where slopes have been destabilized by the earthquake. These studies provide relevant information to government agencies, relief groups, development organizations, and the global community.

Internews/Third Pole Project is working with local radio and media organizations to ensure information is coordinated and reaches all affected communities. Additionally, they are working to consolidate relevant data on locations of affected populations and high damage, map radio stations (affected and non affected), identify areas vulnerable to landslides, and track road blockages for teams doing assessment and response. Such information helps response teams make informed decisions. This information has been placed in an interactive web platform and is publically accessible.

Digital Disease Detection 3 Conference Kicks Off in Florence


We’re happy to be supporting, along with our partner HealthMap, a third digital disease detection conference in Florence, Italy, May 21-22. From the event site prepared by HealthMap:

The ability to rapidly recognize and respond to both global and local health threats remains a critical public health priority. The ever-growing digital world represents an unprecedented opportunity to harvest for new solutions and tools to face these emergencies. This digital means of disease detection has been made possible by the growing influence of Internet technology, which has significantly changed the landscape of public health surveillance and epidemic intelligence gathering.

Disease and outbreak data is now disseminated not only through formal online announcements by government agencies, but also through other informal digital channels such as social networking sites, blogs, chat rooms, Web searches, local news media, crowdsourcing platforms.

These informal data streams have been credited with decreasing the time between an outbreak and formal recognition of an outbreak, allowing for an expedited response to the public health threat.

The very recent addition of data from smart wearable body sensors for health self-assessment allows also to collect health-related data from the general public on a broader perspective not necessarily disease-related.

Collectively, these online sources create an image of global public health that is fundamentally different from the one produced by traditional public health surveillance infrastructure. As these sources become more widely used and relied upon, it is imperative that health professionals collaborate to demonstrate and improve the effectiveness of these sources. We must identify strengths and weaknesses that can be capitalized upon and remedied.

The intention of the Third International Digital Disease Detection Conference is to connect innovators in health and technology to 1) continue to define this emerging field; 2) explore novel data streams and new technologies; 3) host workshops to identify and discuss strengths and weaknesses in surveillance methods, and to promote critique and development of already existing surveillance and diagnostic tools.

Should be a great event.  Follow #DDD3 on Twitter for updates.

Ebola Innovation Summit


We’re co-hosting today with the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and USAID an Ebola Innovation Summit, aimed at both getting to zero cases in the current West African outbreak, as well as learning lessons from the current crisis to better prepare for the next infectious disease outbreak. You can find more details here. Follow it on social media via the hashtags #TackleEbola and #Innovate4Ebola.

Reinventing Nuclear Security – The Future We Want


The final session of the six-part Reinventing Nuclear Security series, an initiative of N Square, which we support, focuses on envisioning a world in which nuclear weapons no longer play a role.  You can watch a recap of that session below.  It includes an interesting mix of futurists, faith leaders, and advocates.  Worth watching.  Plus, you can review recap videos of all six sessions (or watch the full 90-minute roundtables) from the series main page here.

Skoll World Forum 2015 Kicks Off


The 2015 Skoll World Forum kicked off in Oxford tonight with a great “In Conversation With” Jeff Skoll and a panel featuring Archbishop Desmond Tutu, his daughter Mpho, Zak Ebrahim, and Ophelia Dahl talking about belief and what keeps them motivated in their social change work. The Forum continues tomorrow and Friday, with live streaming options throughout. You can check out the live stream here and follow events on Twitter with hashtag #skollwf. Hope you can check it out!