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Working on the Cloud with Unreached People Information

There is a lot of buzz these days about Cloud computing. It is unusual to me that with so much technology available to us, the Mission movement has not yet caught on to using the Cloud to work on unreached people group information.

What is Cloud computing? The simplest way of explaining it is this – If you need software, it’s not Cloud computing. Cloud computing also means that everyone is working on the same document, up on the cloud (a web server), and not a local computer.

Example: If you have an Excel spreadsheet of the people groups of Nepal, and you pass it out to other people, once you change your spreadsheet, the other people’s files are outdated. If the other people also make changes to the spreadsheet then you not only have outdated information on Nepal, you also have a mess. (Example working on a local computer).

So the most logical thing to do is create a Cloud based unreached people information project. With a Cloud, all the changes to Nepal are live and the information is updated by the community.

In 2006 we created a Cloud based Unreached people group information project called Etnopedia. In 2007 we added the capability of translating the information into other languages. Today we have five language portal teams that have translated over 5,000 unreached people profiles into other languages. These teams are also updating and adding new information to the cloud. The cloud allows you to work together from all over the world.

So how do you communicate changes made between language clouds? Well, everyone working on their project is bilingual and the changes they make are also made to the English portal. Example: If I am working on the Spanish portal and I find that a Bible has been translated for a people group, I change my portal and also the English portal with the tags BIBLE TRANSLATION STATUS CHANGE in the summary. By doing this I have communicated to all the others that they need to change their portals.  The German team, the Indonesian team, etc. now know to change the Bible translation status on that people group’s profile.

You are probably already thinking, why not have all the databases interlinked so that the changes made are populated throughout all the language portals automatically? The answer to this is threefold. Most importantly, you do not want to take away the ownership or responsibility of the portal teams to update their projects. Secondly you would eliminate the ability to easily translate the information by adding complicated semantic code into the mix. Thirdly, you would slow down the end user interface. There are still many parts of the world that cannot even open our fancy database driven websites.

The Etnopedia cloud is still a database with some pretty advanced features. We chose to use the Wikipedia software, as it is one of the fastest, most reliable browser compatible database websites in the world.

Ok, you cannot get global statistics out of a cloud based UPG project, such as how many Muslims live in India, or how many Bible translation needs there are in Nigeria. I guess you could click through every people profile for Nigeria and count the translation needs individually, but that would take you a few hours. But as for mobilizing new missionaries, you basically need a solid people list in that missionary candidate’s first language.

So if we are ever going to have a truly global research and mobilization community all working together on unreached people information, it needs to be in the Cloud.

Join the UPG Cloud today.