Toronto’s G(irls)20 summit goes global with Google Moderator

A Toronto conference for young women involved in education, healthcare and anti-poverty programs is quickly gaining international attention.

G(irls)20 Summit owes its global exposure, in large measure, to social media technology – specifically a crowd sourcing tool from Google.

G(irls) 20, which seeks to mirror the upcoming G8and G20 summits in Toronto, quietly launched online late March.

In barely over a month, organizers say, they’ve managed to reach the final stage — selection of candidates who will meet in Toronto June 15.

An enhanced version of Google Moderator helped them accomplish this task so quickly.

The application lets users post their own ideas online, and vote on those of other participants.

This feature was essential to the G(irls) 20 Summit spearheaded by the Belinda Stronach Foundation, as it fosters online discussions, on a global scale, about crucial socio-economic issues.

Video submitted to G(irls)20 site by Emily Davila of Bonn, Germany

A highpoint of the process is selection of 20 persons to attend a two-week conference in Toronto.

The delegates, women aged 18 to 20, will hail from G20 member countries, and will be judged on the quality and relevance of their contributions to the discussion.

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The G(irls)20 Summit will include panel discussions and workshops on issues of education, maternal healthcare, access to technology and economic independence.

Recommendations that emerge will be presented to representatives of the G20 countries when they meet in Toronto.

Video submitted by Kartika of Indonesia.

“This is the most democratic way of coming up with an agenda,” said Farah Mohamed, president of The Belinda Stronach Foundation. “It doesn’t depend on where you come from or who you know, all those barriers have been taken down.”

As social media integration is a hallmark of the new version of Moderator, participants are able to keep track of Twitter discussions, post blog entries using Facebook, and post and track YouTube video content Mohamed said.

She said Moderator helps judges gauge how an issue, idea or recommendation resonates with the G(irls)20 online community by monitoring the number of online votes posted ideas get.

Scaling out

Mohamed marvels at the speed with which the site could reach and engage so many people worldwide.

“We just had this idea sometime last November and launched our online presence in March 2010,” she told ITBusiness.ca. “Now we have more than 7,000 people registered and over 400 suggestions.”

She said initially participants were “bouncing around e-mails” but Google Moderator took collaboration to a whole new level and scale.

Moderator is a Web service provided by Google that uses crowd sourcing to rank user submitted questions, suggestions and ideas, according to Sabrina Geremia, head of agency relations at Google Canada.

She said the application is frequently used by Google employees to streamline the decision-making process when widely distributed teams collaborate on projects.

“Moderator enables management of feedback from a large number of people regardless of where they are located.”

For example, she said, users can vote on top questions they think should be posed or considered.

The app lets the audience see other people’s questions and helps the leader of a team or event address those.

Three enhancements to Moderator’s Changeroom (where people register and post their ideas) helped the G(irls) 20 site reach a wider audience.

Auto language translation – This feature automatically translates text on a site to 40 languages. It was essential to the G(irls) 20 site, which sought to reach a global audience. Providing separate sites to handle language differences would have been cumbersome and costly.

Social media integration – Event organizers could reach their audience where they lived, while users where able to tap into the site through a social media channel of their choice

Allowing video submissions – Posting of YouTube videos – enabled by the enhanced Moderator – was a bonanza for G(irls) 20. Video clip submission attract a lot of viewers, said Mohamed.

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