IEEE’s Covid Response: Kartik Kulkarni’s story

PCI’s community may not be aware of our longstanding, very productive relationship with Kartik Kulkarni and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest professional association of engineers with over 400,000 members in 160 countries.

Kartik won IEEE’s Change the World competition in (2009) and met Vinton Cerf, co-founder of PCI and father of the internet, at the honors ceremony. Vint’s idea of an interlinked and interconnected internet resonated with him and inspired him to apply the concept in the social impact sector. Kartik then met with Mei Lin in 2016 and became even more connected to PCI.

As Chair of the Humanitarian Activities Committee (HAC) from 2019-20, Kartik strongly encouraged member-led and member-driven projects worldwide applying technology in practical ways that local communities understood and benefited from. These people and community-focused projects were identified, reviewed and the very best candidates were prioritized for funding by the IEEE HAC under Kartik’s leadership. IEEE also provided educational resources, training and guidance from IEEE Fellows and Senior members, many of whom were leaders in industry and faculty of engineering schools. IEEE’s engineering leadership realized the lack of common outcome units across social and sustainability projects and missing tools for social impact measurement. During Kartik’s 2 year chairmanship of the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee, he set out to understand how engineers and volunteers might more rigorously track the results of their volunteer efforts.

Especially in the second year, Kartik faced a challenging time at the beginning of COVID-19. There was a huge dramatic increase in volunteers proposing Covid response projects so IEEE made a special call for projects applying technology to prevent or mitigate the spread and impact of Covid in communities around the world. A record 101 projects were funded, 5 times the number funded in 2019, IEEE was proud to be in a position to rally members in the fight against COVID-19!

IEEE began ‘incubating the communities of practice’ for members doing similar Covid projects around the world – Personal Protective Equipment and ICT communities of practice are examples where teams shared and learned from each other in a network where those working far from one another came together to share their findings, pitfalls and lessons.

“In the internet space, nothing should happen in its own silo. The more connected data is, the more we learn collectively. And the more connected all the impact measurements are, the easier it becomes to search and filter where the biggest impacts are being made.”


On Kartik’s Humanitarian Activities committee journey, he discovered that despite there being so many amazing organizations and people working on impressive projects, there was no one platform where all the data was being stored and shared. This data wasn’t compatible because each organization used very different metrics. What was needed, Kartik proposed, was a common playing field for all those projects, an online presence promoting what they were working on.


This led to the creation of the project repository, the first product of ImpactX.co. a dynamic database that encourages collaboration. Within this platform, people are able to post, follow, support, and crowdfund projects. ImpactX aims to be ‘connective tissue’ for the social and environmental sector with impact measurement at its heart.

 “It better connects the project doers and the project supporters around the world”.


By being able to compare and aggregate data across projects and communities, we can apply scientific method to understand why some projects have a bigger impact than others. With this, PCI and IEEE intend to co-evolve the project repository with the  PCI community, and the Global Help Desk, coming together to improve measurement tools.

Kartik and the team at ImpactX.co invite you to join the project repository by listing current projects, reporting impact and inviting collaborators. So you can build your own network and contribute to a global body of knowledge. For the general public, we encourage you to offer your subject matter expertise or even to donate to projects that catch your interest.

 

“The big thing that we want to achieve with PCI and ImpactX is to develop a common language, a common set of metrics and impact formulas. A way to construct bridges between existing metrics and standards.”


At present, this exists as the hyper catalog system: an interconnected catalog of metrics. This enables organizations to compare and create common standards.  To learn more, get in touch via [email protected].

 

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