Technology industry

The tech industry serving the greater good

Ben Kepes says he wanted to focus on IT as a tool for the betterment of people and the planet.

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Ben Kepes says he wanted to focus on IT as a tool for the betterment of people and the planet.

Ben Kepes is a Canterbury-based entrepreneur and professional board member. He loves what technology can do for the world.

OPINION: I’ve spent about 15 years immersing myself in the intricacies of the tech industry.

You name an innovation in computing – from cloud to serverless, from SaaS to AI, and I was immersed in it.

The time came, however, when I wanted to focus on IT as a tool for the betterment of people and the planet. IT as a means rather than an end.

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That’s why it always warms my heart to come across an example of technology being applied to something good in the world. Today’s example comes straight from South Africa.

Cambium Networks exists to help otherwise disconnected people and places connect.

South Africa is the custodian of some 19,000 white rhinos, around 20% of which are privately owned.

Kelly Hodel / Stuff

South Africa is the custodian of some 19,000 white rhinos, around 20% of which are privately owned.

With a range of different products and services, they help a wide range of high-need industries – government and military agencies, oil and gas operations, utility companies and public safety networks – to ensure reliable and responsive connectivity. in use.

So while Cambium might not be the entity making sure the bits get to your device right now, chances are the person working the overhead lines deep in the desert somewhere , the cost-free oil exploration team or the disaster-deployed relief service – The ravaged country takes advantage of Cambium tricks.

The company contacted me a while ago to tell me about a philanthropic initiative in which they were involved.

We all know that rhinos are one of the most endangered species in Africa and a large part of this threat (beyond habitat loss and such) is linked to illegal poaching.

It seems odd that in our day and age rhinoceros or elephant ivory is attractive – especially since almost everyone understands that a large animal had to die to create the piece of jewelry – but I guess the seemingly regular footage of tech leaders who proudly stand next to the bears they’ve shot can attest, morality is a strange thing.

Anyway, I was under the naive assumption that rhinos pretty much lived in zoos, game parks, or vast African reserves.

I hadn’t realized the somewhat shocking fact that a number of rhinos are in fact privately owned. South Africa is the custodian of some 19,000 white rhinos, around 20% of which are privately owned. These private owners may themselves have land holdings on which their rhinos roam.

But, unfortunately, these private areas are not safe from poaching themselves, and after Insimbi and Shambula, two private white rhinos, were slaughtered for their ivory in 2014, a group was formed to jointly help to fight against poaching.

The Limpopo Rhino Security Group (LRSG) was created as a network of private landowners and rhino guardians to pool resources in the fight against poachers.

The need to band together is huge given that these people are not eligible for any government funding for rhino protection.

The LRSG covers a 250,000 acre conservation area protecting significant numbers of rhinos, and the group has found partners in the private sector for their protection needs.

This is where Cambium comes in. Using Cambium’s outdoor broadband platform and a set of wireless backlinks, as well as visible light and thermal surveillance cameras also donated to LRSG, the group created an early warning system.

All video footage is transferred (thanks to Cambium’s kit) to a single command center that can deploy rapid response units as soon as suspicious activity is detected near park boundaries.

And it seems to be working – LRSG reports an 82% drop in rhino poaching cases in their area in the past six months alone.

While it might not get as much attention as whether the next iPhone will have a notch or not, and it may not have as much impact as news of Netflix’s new season shows, it’s an impressive example of the tech industry doing something good for the world.