Ten non-profits in the U.S. and abroad will be recipients of New Digital Age Grants, funded through a $1 million donation by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.
The program was established to highlight organizations that use technology to counter the global challenges Schmidt and Google Ideas Director Jared Cohen write about in their book “The New Digital Age,” including government-sponsored censorship, disaster relief and crime fighting. The book was released in paperback on March 4.
“The recipients chosen for the New Digital Age Grants (NDA) are doing some very innovative and unique work, and I’m proud to offer them this encouragement,” said Schmidt. “Five billion people will encounter the Internet for the first time in the next decade. With this surge in the use of technology around the world — much of which we in the West take for granted — I felt it was important to encourage organizations that are using it to solve some of our most pressing problems.”
The 10 recipients of the NDA grants and how the organization described them are:
- Aspiration in San Francisco, Calif., provides deep mentorship to build tech capacity supporting Africa, Asia and beyond. Their NDA grant will grow their capacity-building programs for the Global South, increasing technical capacity to meet local challenges.
- C4ADS, a nonprofit research team in Washington, D.C., is at the cutting edge of unmasking Somali pirate networks, Russian arms-smuggling rings, and other illicit actors entirely through public records. Their data-driven approach and reliance on public documents has enormous potential impact, and the grant will help with their next big project.
- The Citizen Integration Center in Monterrey, Mexico has developed an innovative public safety broadcast and tipline system on social media. Users help their neighbors — and the city — by posting incidents and receiving alerts when violence is occurring in their communities. The grant will help them broaden their reach.
- The Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, Canada, is a leading interdisciplinary laboratory researching and exposing censorship and surveillance. The grant will support their technical reconnaissance and analysis, which uniquely combines experts and techniques from computer science and the social sciences.
- The Guardian Project, based in New York City, develops open-source secure communication tools for mobile devices. ChatSecure and OSTel, their open standards-based encrypted messaging, voice and video communication services, which are both built on open standards, have earned the trust of tens of thousands of users in repressively-censored environments, and the grant will advance their technical development.
- The Igarapé Institute in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, focuses on violence prevention and reduction through technology. Their nonprofit work on anti-crime projects combines the thoughtfulness of a think tank with the innovative experimentation of a technology design shop. The grant will support their research and development work.
- KoBoToolbox in Cambridge, Mass., allows fieldworkers in far-flung conflict and disaster zones to easily gather information without active Internet connections. The grant will help them revamp their platform to make it easier and faster to deploy.
- The New Media Advocacy Project in New York, N.Y., is nonprofit developing mobile tools to map violence and disappearances in challenging environments. The grant will allow them to refine their novel, interactive, video-based interfaces.
- The Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C., advances open architectures and open-source innovations for a free and open Internet. The grant will assist their work with the Measurement Lab project to objectively measure and report Internet interference from repressive governments.
Portland State University in Portland, Ore., is leading ground-breaking research on network traffic obfuscation techniques, which improve Internet accessibility for residents of repressively-censored environments. The grant will support the research of Professor Tom Shrimpton and his lab, who — with partners at the University of Wisconsin and beyond — continue to push the boundaries with new techniques like Format Transforming Encryption.