The University of Edinburgh has pledged its support for the Turing Trust, an organisation which provides access to computers in Africa, by donating money raised through a free search engine that diverts advertising revenues to charity.
Easysearch is a type of technology developed by Yahoo, which combines the results from Bing and Yahoo search engines. Institutions can install the device on all computers to divert a portion of money raised through advertising to a charitable cause of the institution’s choice – in the case of the University of Edinburgh, the Turing Trust.
The organisation was founded by James Turing, PhD student at the University of Edinburgh and the great nephew of Alan Turing.
Turing stated that the Turing Trust was inspired by a visit to Ghana as a volunteer teacher in 2009. The organisation now works in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, providing access to ICT equipment and skills in remote and off-grid areas.
The Turing Trust’s latest project is the Solarberry, a solar-powered computer lab providing off-grid Kenyan communities with access to computers and electricity. This recently received funding from the Clinton Global Initiative Fund.
According to Chief Information Officer and Librarian to the University, Gavin Machlachlan, The University of Edinburgh has chosen to support the Turing Trust through Easysearch because “the work they are able to do in Africa, bringing IT technology to schools, provides the basic infrastructure that enables students in these countries to access free distance learning courses.”
Like other search engines, Easysearch generates revenue through advertising goods and services. However instead of keeping the entirety of these profits, Easysearch donates a portion to charity – usually about one half pence per search. Using this technology, the research students carry out on University computers will therefore make it possible for people in areas of Africa where the Turing Trust works to access information too.
It is not clear exactly how much money Easysearch could raise for the Turing Trust, but figures on their website cite the average user as generating £20 a year for the charity of their choice. In the context of the University, this could mean that if ten searches a day are made on every computer in the library, the main library alone could generate almost £3000 a year.
The money raised by Easysearch will support the Turing Trust’s projects, many of which begin in Edinburgh, where local volunteers aid in packing shipping containers with computers and equipment to be sent to various countries on the African continent.
Image: The Turing Trust