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We chatted with the great minds at AKQA to discuss their incredible project, Code of Conscience. The project was the counci’s choice for BIMA Beat, our creative shwocase powered by Sony Musick UK, 4th Floor Creative & Spotify:
What is Code of Conscience? How does it fit the theme of reduce?
The Code of Conscience restricts the use of heavy-duty vehicles in protected land areas. Using 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.
The project centres around a smart chip, how does the tech work?
We developed a simple proof-of-concept for the Code of Conscience with our partners Tekt Industries. An IoT device that could control a relay – a type of electrical switch – that would cut power to a fuel pump in a diesel vehicle.
The reality is, this project is more about the call to action. To all manufacturers of heavy logging machinery to reflect on the intentionality inherent in their products. To governments, organisations and communities to feel empowered, and more in control of their regions. And to businesses to ensure their suppliers are accountable.
What was the inspiration for the project?
“The illegal destruction of nature affects everyone, whether through the reduction of biodiversity, violence against communities, degradation of soil, or the heating of our planet” explains AKQA executive creative director Hugo Veiga. “Code of Conscience now invites heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers to become part of the solution to these critical global problems. 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.”
What has been the impact of the project so far?
Since the launch of Code of Conscience, we’ve been working hard to scale and implement it. Speaking to partners around the world about scaling and implementing the idea and we’re working with a global telematics company who already have the same technology in over 100 million vehicles. They’re an ideal partner for this. We are also working with local government in Australia to apply the idea to forests that are being logged illegally.
We’ve secured a sponsorship from a large electronics and IoT company to effectively supply 100 units for a trial of the Code of Conscience in Peru. We’re in planning with EIA who are investigating illegal logging and deforestation in Peru, advocating for enforcement of laws and policies to protect forests, and supporting communities to manage and monitor their forest resources. The situation in Madre de Dios in Peru is dire. Officers tasked with enforcing the laws are receiving death threats from the mafia. Code of Conscience has a chance of taking some of the heat off individuals. This is where we plan to launch our trial. A confluence of design and violence.
How can people get involved in helping fight against deforestation?
The Code of Conscience is an open source project and we’re open to any and all collaborations.
Outside of the numerous conversations and streams of work happening with businesses, organisations and governments, we have other streams popping up that are bringing depth to the project. An example of this is a research proposal being developed by Techno-Anthropologist, Lisa Burghardt of Aalborg University, Copenhagen. She believes the ambitions and goals of the project are highly relevant and aim at necessary change on a larger scale. She proactively reached out and will undoubtedly bring a great point of view to the project.