Conclusion Working together to create a cloud for global good

No one company has all the answers. And no one company should presume that it is in a position to dictate policy—the issues are too complicated and the stakes are too high.

The decisions that are made over the next few years concerning privacy, public safety, legal enforcement, sustainability, access, and education in the era of cloud computing will impact economic growth and social mobility for decades to come.

To truly build a cloud for global good, it will be essential for governments, citizens, businesses, and organizations to work together to create a framework for cloud computing— one that respects those things that people care about, opens the door to the achievement of the dreams they aspire to, and provides benefits that are equally accessible for all. At Microsoft we are optimistic that this can be realized.

Two examples inspire us to better understand what potential a cloud that is trusted, responsible, and inclusive can achieve.

The moment demands a framework of laws that provides fair and equal access to the benefits of a trusted, responsible, and inclusive cloud

In April 2015, a pair of powerful earthquakes wreaked havoc across Nepal. More than 9,000 people were killed. Entire villages were flattened. At least 600,000 houses and buildings were severely damaged, forcing 8 million people to seek temporary shelter in tents.[1] With winter just six months away, one of the most critical tasks facing Nepal was the work of demolition and reconstruction—a difficult job in a mountainous region with an already-limited infrastructure severely damaged by the twin earthquakes.

To speed the process, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and local officials used a cloud-based mobile app to create a precise record for each building, with GPS coordinates providing exact location and dimensions, ownership information, site conditions, demolition and debris disposal plans, and much more. The system made it possible to coordinate the safe and rapid removal of debris and to recycle reusable materials. It also enabled the UNDP to launch the Emergency Employment Program, which provided jobs for local people—many of whom had been displaced by the earthquake—in the recovery effort.

“These people lost their homes, their jobs, family members, and loved ones,” said Dan Strode, an expert in managing disaster response programs who was dispatched to Kathmandu to help coordinate the recovery effort. “The Emergency Employment Program provided livelihoods in the midst of the devastation and helped put these communities on the road to reconstruction.”

In Nanyuki, Kenya, a remote town 100 miles north of Nairobi where only 12 percent of residents have access to electricity, a company called Mawingu Networks is taking advantage of solar power and underutilized broadcast bandwidth known as TV white spaces to deliver wireless access to the cloud.

This service provides connectivity for a local secondary school, where students have seen their scores on the national exam increase by more than 35 percent, and for a cybercafé, where, for 3 U.S. dollars a month, 23-year-old Chris Baraka has launched a business providing technical support to customers in Europe and North America.

These stories inspire us by the hope they offer for addressing the world’s most difficult problems and the possibilities they suggest for creating opportunities for people in communities everywhere.

We believe these stories represent just the beginning of what the cloud will make possible as smart, creative, inventive people work together to extend the boundaries of science, build new products, launch new services, and create new businesses—even new industries.

But, while the possibilities are endless, we accept that there will be disruption and dislocation.

The moment demands a framework of laws and regulations created by people represented through their governments that preserves and protects important values and provides fair and equal access to the benefits that only a trusted, responsible, and inclusive cloud can make possible. It is vital that we work together now to create the framework for a cloud for global good. The rules and regulations that are implemented over the next few years will have a long-lasting impact on generations to come.

Enacting and enforcing this framework is the proper realm of governments as they seek to protect the interests of their citizens, promote opportunity for local businesses, and preserve the rights and privileges that are the foundation of their communities.

We urge policymakers, business owners, educators, citizens, advocates, experts—everyone who has a stake in the outcome—to come together to weigh the benefits and challenges inherent in this incredible wave of technology innovation as we work to craft a framework for cloud computing that will help us create a cloud for global good.