At the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals, dozens of student teams showcase software projects that in some cases are already improving disaster relief efforts. When floodwaters swept across northern Thailand last fall, Kriangkrai Pipatvilaikul knew he had to help. So he boarded a bus with fellow students from Chulalongkorn University and went to a devastated village he had seen on TV.
The students joined scores of volunteers arriving at the same village with food, water and medical supplies. As they helped with the relief effort, the group heard about a harder hit area, one that hadn’t made the news, and they decided to push on. What they found shocked them. As they paddled through the submerged town, desperate villagers surrounded their boat and tried to grab whatever food they could. The students realized no other volunteers had been there despite the short distance from the previous site.
They handed out what they could but didn’t have enough supplies for everyone. After Pipatvilaikul returned to school, haunted at having turned people away, he realized how he could help further – through software.
He tapped three classmates to create Terra, a smartphone application that allows disaster victims to instantly broadcast their location through social networks such as Facebook. It aims to help rescue workers and volunteers get to where relief is needed most – and hopefully prevent scenes like Pipatvilaikul witnessed in that submerged, neglected village.
“I want to make sure that village and others like it get noticed by everyone and get the help they need,” he said. “That was the inspiration for Terra.”
This week Pipatvilaikul and his classmates will present Terra at the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals in New York City, which kick off July 8. The annual Microsoft-sponsored event is the world’s largest student technology competition, and it calls on students to tackle the world’s toughest problems.
It isn’t surprising that student teams such as Thailand’s Team NewKrean are taking on important issues that could save lives, said Jon Perera, general manager of Academic Programs for Microsoft.
“Many of the world’s students today don’t want to sit on the sidelines and hope that change will take place,” he said. “They want to roll up their sleeves and be a part of the solution. What we’ve done with the Imagine Cup is provide an extremely large stage and platform for students to innovate and not just compete against each other but more importantly, to build and deliver solutions that can help change the world.”
Activist, actor, author and philanthropist Eva Longoria invites you to celebrate the amazing work of student humanitarians by voting for the Imagine Cup 2011 People’s Choice Video Award.
The available videos are by many of the 2011 Worldwide Finalists who imagined a world where technology helps solve the world’s toughest problems. Hear their stories, see their vision, and learn more about each of their amazing projects – and you too will be inspired!
The 2011 Worldwide Finalist team with the most “likes” by July 12, 2011 at 21:00 GMT wins the People’s Choice Award and $10,000 USD.
See the video: Eva Longoria Asks You to Vote for a Brighter Future