UNICC’s CTO Shashank Rai Speaks at UNITAR Webinar on Coding for Social Capital

22 July, 2020


The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the First Code Academy hosted on 16 July a virtual roundtable on building a better future for the world’s youth through coding. UNICC’s Chief Technology Officer Shashank Rai was invited to speak as an expert panelist on the topic of software coding and digital public goods.

After an introduction by Alexander Taylor, Youth Ambassador to the Global Challenges Forum Foundation, and an opening statement by Moses Satralkar, Associate Director for Program Development at the Global Challenges Forum Foundation, five young panelists presented their projects, where through programming and technology they solve societal challenges.

The foundation of coding for social capital is open collaboration. We can all contribute by participating in open source projects that contribute to our communities and the well-being of humanity.

Shashank Rai, Chief Technology Officer, UNICC

Shashank focused his contribution on digital public goods, technology and freely and openly available content. He noted that open collaboration, including open content, open-source software and open standardization, is the bridge that stands between coding and social capital.

Madhavi Shankar, Forbes Asia 30 under 30 and co-founder and CEO of SpaceBasic shared here experience in building solutions for her community through coding. Photo: UNITAR

The UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation, in its report published on 10 June 2019, recommends “that a broad, multi-stakeholder alliance, involving the UN, create a platform for sharing digital public goods, engaging talent and pooling data sets, in a manner that respects privacy, in areas related to attaining the SDGs.” Digital public goods are defined as open-source software, open data, open AI models, open standards and open content that adhere to privacy and other applicable best practices, do no harm and are of high relevance for attainment of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Shashank encouraged the panelists and everyone in the audience to ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ and start or join an open-source project that contributes to the well-being of others, focusing on human-centered design and capitalizing on social connections to create digital public goods.

The biggest challenge for open source content is that it is written from techies for the techies, and not focused on the social sector. At UNICC, for example, we have to write software for use in harsh conditions around the globe, areas with low bandwidth or little Internet connectivity.

Shashank Rai, Chief Technology Officer, UNICC

The webinar is part of a series of intergenerational conversations to empower society and to resolve global challenges. UNICC’s Director Sameer Chauhan participated in the COVID-19 and Global Youth Leadership roundable, part of the same series, on 14 May.

View the complete recording of the Coding for Social Capital webinar.