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Building communities to fight climate change

By Frank Farrall - November 07, 2011

Jet_in_skyWith new carbon tax legislation recently passed by the government and much of the country suffering from severe drought in the past 10 years, climate change is an increasingly significant topic in Australia. During the past year, Deloitte has had the privilege of working with a sustainability organisation based in Canberra to help them develop systems and strategies to deliver information about new sustainability technologies to their member network in support of fighting climate change. As this organisation had previously relied heavily on traditional methods of knowledge sharing, our work focused on the driving both technology and cultural change for them.

The core scope of our work was to develop from scratch an external digital presence, which included the design and build of a technical application, content, and social media strategies and extranet for their member community. A key goal of the engagement was to establish a platform and a set of knowledge sharing engagement rules for all of the organisations’ stakeholders, which included such diverse groups as state and national governments, energy and mining companies, universities and environmental bodies. Evolving their member group from being solely information consumers to actively engaged participants was also a key focus.

Our team advised the client on the adoption of open source technologies and on the use of data to maximise their users’ understanding of complex scientific topics. The client had built up a substantial database of information and findings from global sustainability projects, which was a core asset that it wanted to share with the member network. Our project unlocked this data by highlighting it on the new digital platform and using engaging data visualisation tools, such as map overlays and animated widgets to provide context to the user. Collaboration and social media tools formed a key part of the technology architecture and enabled active participation between the client and their user community.

One of the biggest challenges our team faced during the engagement was driving the cultural change needed for the organisation to adapt an open, outward facing attitude towards the sharing of knowledge. This was particularly challenging due to the controversial nature of many of the topics that they tackled with their stakeholder base and the outside community. This move to an “open community” platform for members also required our team to develop an economic valuation model for content to ensure that contributors were compensated fairly for the data and knowledge assets that they provided to our client’s platform.

The new platform went live in late 2010 and now has thousands of engaged users across every continent who are sharing ideas about new technologies and potential approaches to mitigating climate change. Our team is very proud of the work they delivered for this client and excited by the success of their knowledge sharing platform.

For more details about the project, check out our story "Connecting the carbon reduction community" in the Deloitte 2011 Annual Review.


Frank FarrallFrank Farrall is the national leader for Deloitte Australia’s Online Consulting Practice and an information technology specialist who has been delivering innovative business solutions to clients in Australia, Asia, and the U.S. since the late 1990's. Frank has substantial experience in the delivery of e-commerce, digital content management and mobile application development initiatives, as well as large-scale broadband telecommunications programmes of work. His client base spans telecommunications and financial services industries and includes federal and state public sector organizations.

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