Future of Data Challenge

Amaya standing in front of a wall mural that says "Future of Data Challenge"

Terraso’s travel adventures continued in March when Omidyar Network honored Tech Matters with $20,000 to support Terraso’s work as part of Omidyar’s Future of Data Challenge. The award ceremony took place at the South By Southwest Festival (SXSW)  in Austin, Texas and I was lucky enough to attend and accept the award on Tech Matter’s behalf.  For those who haven’t heard of SXSW, let me paint a picture for you. Imagine a kaleidoscope of technology, film, music, education, and culture, all seamlessly intertwining for a ten-day, circus-like, spectacle. Multiple hotels, conference centers, entertainment venues, and clubs formed the backdrop for this extraordinary celebration of human ingenuity. It was a captivating blend of conference, networking event, film festival, music festival, and countless parties. As a first-time attendee, fresh from my recent travel in Colombia and Ecuador, I had no idea what to expect. The mix of excitement and nerves was electrifying, and I braced myself for a whirlwind three days. 

While jet lag prevented me from fully indulging in the late-night revelries, I seized the opportunity to participate in several enlightening conference sessions with two in particular leaving an indelible mark. 

The first was called Satellite Imagery: Fundamental to Taking Climate Action and united experts from the Impact Observatory, Center for Biodiversity and Global Change at Yale, Esri, and Woodwell Climate Research Center. Together, the panelists explored how satellite imagery can drive the creation of a more sustainable and resilient world. Witnessing the same technology being employed in diverse ways, all aimed at the common goal of global change and sustainability, filled me with hope and optimism. It was a powerful reminder that our collective efforts can indeed transform our planet, and our work will eventually lead to global change and sustainability. 

The second session, Transforming Tech with the Black Tech Ecosystem, struck a personal chord as I am a black woman in the tech industry. The session focused on inspiring and supporting black youths’ interest in studying and pursuing careers in technology which wasn’t what I expected from the session title. However, I am glad I attended as many important points were raised that I hadn’t considered before. It gave me a lot to think about and I have since been considering ways that Tech Matters might use our position in Silicon Valley to encourage and support black youth exploring tech in our surrounding communities. 

Finally, the event arrived, the OMIDYAR Future of Data Challenge award ceremony. As I mingled with other award recipients, I was once again struck by the remarkable projects being undertaken and the vast array of initiatives dedicated to prioritizing fairness, inclusion, empowerment, and collective value in our data culture. From activism for data justice and policy change to awareness campaigns that reshape perceptions of data’s role in society, the scope was breathtaking. Witnessing the birth of new evidence, innovative designs, and practical technologies that champion privacy and operationalize fairness and inclusion left me brimming with excitement. The winners’ diversity, hailing from countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Chile, Spain, The Netherlands, and Brazil, further exemplified the global collaboration in this work. It was truly a meeting of minds that left me not only excited, but optimistic about the future of data and how we will get there. 


  • Amaya Webster

    Amaya is a tech-for-good geek with more than a decade of experience. Prior to joining Tech Matters, Amaya worked at Benetech creating software-for-good as the project manager for their R&D initiative, and the community and marketing manager for their work on digital accessibility of STEM educational materials. Amaya believes that there is little more rewarding than doing work which creates positive, sustainable impact. With degrees in anthropology, biology, and art, a career in tech may not have been the obvious choice, but she has found that her eclectic background lends itself particularly well to the tech-for-good field—especially when it comes to user-centric product design, research, and creative approaches to problem solving and strategy design.

Future of Data Challenge
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