Megan Smith, Vice President, New Business Development and General Manager, Google.org., argued that greater interconnectedness achieved by information technology is a major liberating force in the world. Whether it is aiding the coordination of protests or increasing transparency of governments, the exchange of information has huge benefits. This is not a new phenomenon. In places where people have been able to exchange information easily, social progress has followed. Megan cited the example of Seneca Falls, New York where the canal system allowed for extensive communication; it became significant in both the women's rights and abolition movements.
While a large proportion of the world is benefiting from greater interconnectedness, Africa still lacks the infrastructure to take full advantage. Submarine fiber optic cables are necessary for quick and cheap internet cables and many African countries, particularly in the east, are not connected to these, relying instead on satellites. This is likely to change over the next few years, bringing great potential for further development.
The mission of Google.org is to use technology to drive solutions to global challenges such as climate change, pandemic disease and poverty. The organization was set up as part of a commitment to devote approximately one percent of Google's equity plus one percent of annual profits to philanthropy, along with employee time. Google.org now places its strategic focus on those projects that can leverage the resources of Google staff, particularly its engineers.
Current projects that harness the power of information include: