Online community aims to solve global issues

First challenge: create ways to reduce the environmental impact of humans on the planet

Business Objects Tuesday unveiled an online community designed to tackle pressing global issues by linking data analysts, technologists, academics and others and providing them with tools needed to address key challenges facing businesses and social organizations.

The new Insight community provides data visualization tools including the Business Objects Crystal Xcelsius software and data collaboration tools like wikis and blogs to help users work on issues like solving environmental problems, the company said.

Anyone can present a "challenge," or suggest a problem to be solved by the Insight community; the most interesting challenge as judged by members of the community will receive up to US$1 million over 12 months to be used to focus on the problem.

"Today the world becomes more intelligent," said Bernard Liautaud, founder, chairman and chief strategy officer of Business Objects in a statement. "Our goal is to change the way problems get solved, to work on issues that have a global impact and to challenge the conventions and paradigms of online communities."

Paris-based Business Objects and Zerofootprint, a nonprofit environmental organization, are posing the first challenge: create ways to reduce the environmental impact of humans on the planet. Together, the two organizations are offering users of the online community collaborative tools to help cities reduce their harmful impacts on the environment, Business Objects said.

By analyzing and visualizing data and data sources submitted to the online community, Insight will create new models for helping to lessen environmental damage, added Ron Dembo, founder of Zerofootprint.

In related news, Toronto Mayor David Miller announced Tuesday a new project called Zerofootprint Toronto, which aims to help citizens reduce their detrimental impact on the environment by helping them calculate, analyze and visualize how decisions around food, heating, cooling and water use impact the environment,

Miller said the tool was built by Zerofootprint with Business Objects tools.

Insight also will allow community members to contribute to a book Liautaud is writing on business intelligence, the company announced Tuesday. The book will be focused on how companies can effectively use BI.

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