UN launches poverty monitoring site with Google

The United Nations launched a new website powered by Google and network equipment maker Cisco on Thursday that will show how and where the world is succeeding or failing in meeting the Millennium Development Goals on ending poverty.

UN officials and outside experts have warned that achieving the goals set in 2000 by the target date of 2015 is looking increasingly difficult.

The creators of the website said better monitoring of progress should spur success.

”Hiding from problems guarantees their perpetuation,” said Michael Jones, chief technologist for Google Earth, which has integrated its satellite imagery and mapping system into the site so users can see the places concerned.

The site gathers statistics from around the world to give a snapshot of how each country is doing in meeting the eight goals, from cutting infant mortality to reducing hunger.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the site would for the first time present all the information on the goals in one place, allowing closer monitoring and helping identify places in need of greater attention.

”Our global scorecard is mixed,” Ban said. ”Some regions, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa, are not on track.”

He said nearly one billion people were living on less than $1 a day, and millions of children die every year before their fifth birthday from causes linked to malnutrition.

Jones said accountability was key to both business and development programmes.

”In the countries that fall behind, what they need most of all is to know they’re falling behind.”

This is not the first humanitarian project for Google. It joined with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in April to launch detailed maps and information on the Google Earth website about the crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region. – Reuters

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