Google, Cisco contribute to UN poverty initiative

Networking and software vendors join forces with the United Nations to launch a new website designed to raise awareness of Millennium Development Goals.

The United Nations (UN), Cisco and Google have just unveiled the results of collaborative efforts to raise awareness of global poverty.

A new website to support and track the progress of the United Nations development programme (UNDP) towards decreasing global poverty by 2015 through a global campaign known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was launched late yesterday.

The new MDG Monitor website uses Google's mapping application, Google Earth to graphically represent the various statistics, projects and progress towards achieving the eight key millennium goals, ranging from the eradication of extreme hunger and poverty to ensuring environmental sustainability.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the MDG Monitor project, saying it highlighted the urgent need to increase global cooperation.

"Achieving the Goals is a truly global task, requiring Governments, international organisations, private companies and civil society to work together," he said. "I thank Google and Cisco for helping us create the MDG Monitor - an example of the kind of innovative partnerships we need."

Intended as a resource for anybody interested in information about MDG projects and progress, visitors to the 'map' section of the site can use Google Earth to fly anywhere on the planet and explore from above, in three dimensions, the places where work is being done to realize the MDGs.

The Google mapping functionality gives users the option to graphically view key goal indicators by location and year at a global scale, as well as zoom in for a more local representation, by region or country.

The information will soon also appear as a Global Awareness layer in Google Earth, and is currently available for download on the MDG Monitor website.

Google Chief Technologist for Google Earth and Maps, Michael T. Jones said: "It is our hope that the Millennium Development Goals and issues of human development will become more openly and frequently discussed, and we believe Google Earth and its users around the world can play an important role in making that happen."

Cisco provided consultancy, as well as technical and financial support for MDG Monitor's development. The vendor was keen to point out at the launch that its corporate social responsibility initiatives are aligned with the UN's MDGs, like achieving universal primary education through its global education initiatives.

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