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UN Secretary-General appeals to global open source community

Makena Walker
Dec 7, 2010

New York, 3 December 2010 – By his own admission, it was the first time that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has made the keynote speech (video below) at a gathering of open source software technologists. The event marked the end of Global Pulse's three-day Pulse Camp workshop and the opening of the second Random Hacks of Kindness Hackathon.

Mr. Ban observed that the huge technological advances that we take for granted today offer a unique opportunity to improve the way the UN advocates for and responds to the needs of vulnerable populations around the world.

He highlighted the convergence of two complementary movements: participatory development and open source technologies. "Both movements have a common denominator," he stated, and "because people have a sense of ownership, what is created is more sustainable and effective. It empowers people at the grassroots to build solutions to their own problems."

He made a personal appeal to help him keep his promise to speak for the vulnerable. "We need your help to use the new designer technology, new tools and knowledge to close the information gap during global crises," he said.

Of all professionals, he said, techies have the capacity to make a real difference in the lives of billions of people.

As he noted to general laughter from the 200 attendees, he is no rocket scientist: his job is to design peace. " But I know it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand the value and virtue of making a better future for all,' said the SG.

Speakers at the reception include the NASA Deputy Administrator Lori B Garver, Alfred Spector, Vice President of Research and Special Initiatives at Google, Microsoft Director of Government Innovation Patrick Svenburg and Joel Towers, Dean of Parsons The New School for Design.

The reception was a prelude to a weekend of coding during a global hackathon on December 4-5 in over 20 cities around the world, where hundreds of volunteer software developers met to compete to create software solutions to global challenges.

As is customary at tech events, the Secretary General received a t-shirt emblazoned with the Global Pulse and Hackathon logos.

View the full speech here:

 

Photo: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proudly displays his new Global Pulse t-shirt presented to him by Global Pulse Director Robert Kirkpatrick. Photo Credit: Brian Friedman

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