AKQA Melbourne helps develop open source software to save rainforests

9 September 2019

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In collaboration with NGOs from all over the world, AKQA has launched an open source software that restricts the use of heavy-duty vehicles in protected land areas.

In collaboration with NGOs from all over the world, innovation and experience design company AKQA, has launched an open source software called Code of Conscience that restricts the use of heavy-duty vehicles in protected land areas.

Code of Conscience uses open-source mapping data from the United Nations World Database on Protected Areas – updated monthly by NGOs, communities and governments – in conjunction with existing GPS tracking technology that’s installed in construction vehicles, to autonomously restrict deforestation crews from entering protected zones.

A small, low-cost chip has been developed to equip the code into older, non-GPS models, and the software is available for free to everyone on CodeofConscience.org

An invitation comprising the Code of Conscience chip embedded in a wooden sculpture of an endangered animal has been sent to the CEOs of the world’s top-ten construction equipment manufacturers, with a vision for all new machines to leave the factory with Code of Conscience pre-installed.

Chief Raoni Metuktire – the most prominent Native Brazilian leader and a living symbol of the mission to preserve the rainforest and its indigenous culture – affirms the urgent need for action.

“May all heavy machine manufacturers and leaders come and see this. So that the tractors operate, but stop when they reach our land, our forest and so it continues to exist. It is for our awareness and for the forest to stand up.”

AKQA executive creative director Hugo Veiga says the illegal destruction of nature impacts everyone.

“Code of Conscience now invites heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers to become part of the solution to these critical global problems," Veiga says.

"And it’s clearly economically viable; while it may deter some operators who wish to break environmental laws, it will attract the growing number of responsible organisations who recognise the strategic value in supporting the rainforest amidst an increasingly environmentally conscious world.”

Lead by executive creative director Tim Devine, AKQA AUNZ was a key collaborator bringing this project to life.

“With Australia's refusal to commit to the climate change initiatives championed by our Pacific neighbours (many of which are significantly affected by deforestation), and Brazil's rainforests under threat from political and natural disasters, our Melbourne and Sao Paulo teams partnered to do something about it.” Devine says.

“The code is very straightforward, and takes advantage of technologies that have been commonplace in smartphones for years. Our solution was simply to apply that technology in a new way and package it so that manufacturers can easily apply the code for their machines.”

Code of Conscience has been developed in partnership with the Raoni Institute, which represents the Kayapó indigenous group and its mission to stop unfettered Amazonian destruction, as well as the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), and the Peabiru Institute which promotes social diversity throughout the region.

“At AKQA we believe in the power of creativity and innovation as not only the primary source of differentiation for brands and business, though also for social cause," says Brian Vella, AKQA managing partner, Asia Pacific.

"Partnering with our Brazil studio on the Code of Conscious is the latest example of how we will continue to focus on innovation initiatives to create a better future."

The ambition is for Code of Conscience to become federal law.

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