An online platform developed by an Australian Googler in his "20 per cent time" has been adopted by the United Nations to show world leaders the extent of global support for climate change action at this month's summit in Copenhagen.
Google Australia's "innovationist", Justin Baird, developed the Show Your Vote platform after meeting US environmental campaigner Al Gore earlier this year and helping develop the web presence of the highly successful Earth Hour campaign.
His platform includes a virtual ballot box that can be embedded into any website allowing people to register their support for sealing a fair and effective climate deal at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, which runs for two weeks from Monday.
The ballot box has already been embedded on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), COP15 and Earth Hour websites.
COP15 is name given to the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference and is seen as the critical venue for forging a global deal to reduce carbon emissions.
A Google Map embedded into the tool lets users zoom in and out to view the number of votes by country, state, city and even postcode. A "learn" tab includes the company's visualisations, using Google Earth, of the potential impacts of climate change.
"There is no silver bullet to solve climate change. However, we might have found the 'bullet' for consolidating all Copenhagen campaigns and to visualise the world's voices on a single platform with Justin's Show Your Vote project," said Alexander Saier, climate change secretariat at the UN.
Baird, who travelled to Germany to present Show Your Vote to the UNFCCC, says that, by the end of the week, he hopes the number of votes collected by his tool will be enough to convince world leaders that a binding agreement to combat climate change is necessary.
"With the COP15 the issue for me was, well, what we really need to do is show the largest public support possible to world leaders," he said in a phone interview.
"It's great for people to change their light bulbs and use water saving shower heads but that's just not going to cut it. It's not going to make the changes that we need."
Baird, who will attend the COP15, is encouraging businesses as small as "Joe's scuba shop up in Townsville" to embed Show Your Vote on their websites. Since the platform is hosted on Google's servers, all the votes from around the world are aggregated and tallied in real time.
"The most important thing that we can do right now, regardless of what's happening in local politics, is to make sure when world leaders come together they see that people want action on this issue," he said.
Google's 20 per cent time policy, which allows staff to spend a fifth of their time working on projects they are passionate about, has spawned several Google products.
Among Australian staff alone, "tasks" in Gmail was created in 20 per cent time, as was initial work on Google Wave.
Link to the site: http://www.showyourvote.org/