IFIP IP3 has presented the 2023 David O’Leary Award to Josine Overdevest, MD of Flying Cows of Jozi, IITPSA Member, Board Director and chair of the Social and Ethics committee. The award was announced at IFIP’s General Assembly in Bratislava last week.

To promote and encourage professionalism in ICT, IFIP IP3 acknowledges and rewards an individual or organisation that has promoted and demonstrated Professionalism (Professional Practice), has worked as an Ethics Evangelist, and/or has made strides in fostering diversity among ICT practitioners. 

The criteria include:  

  1. Professionalism – demonstrates commitment to all aspects of ICT professional practice: 
    1. Continuous Professional Development 
    2. Service to organisation and broader community 
    3. Trustworthiness 
    4. Accountability 
    5. Pride in the profession and sets a good example. 
  2. Ethics evangelism – in addition to ethical behaviour, the nominee takes every opportunity to spread the Ethics message. 
  3. Fosters diversity – works to promote gender, race, and digital equity. 

On receiving the award, Josine said, “I’m very honoured to receive the David O’Leary Award, and I thank everyone who has believed in me and supported my work over the years.

“I have been fascinated by the power of technology to widen or narrow divides ever since I wrote my space law thesis on the United Nations Principles on Remote Sensing of the Earth from Outer Space in 1992. These principles aim to ensure that both remote sensing and the resulting data don’t harm but benefit the nations that don’t have own capability for these space activities. This fascination inspired my move to South Africa after a 10-year corporate career at Dutch telco KPN. For the past 20 years I’ve contributed to bridging the digital divide, especially in basic education, culminating in the establishment of Flying Cows of Jozi,” she continued.

“But because digital technology develops so much faster than activities to bridge the digital divide, the digital divide has unfortunately only become wider, resulting in a growing shortage of the digital skills needed to underpin economic growth and job creation. And digital technology also develops much faster than the rules and regulations needed to curb, often unintentional, negative consequences, like the growing carbon footprint and e-waste, misinformation, digital divides and human rights violations. 

“It is very exciting to see how much attention AI Ethics is getting worldwide and I trust that many organisations will see how much value ethics guidance will bring to all development stages, the early design stages to the ultimate implementation, of not just AI but all digital technology. 

“The David O’Leary Award is a wonderful encouragement for to me keep spreading the Digital Ethics gospel!” she finished. 

The David O’Leary award includes a cash prize of US$1500 and travel to IFIPs General Assembly to receive the prize. The nominations were judged by a panel of four judges. Funding is facilitated by Redds Capital and provided by a Trust to be used for the award.

Moira de Roche, Chair IFIP IP3, said, “Josine is everything we hope for in a winner. We received four nominations this year and hope we can increase the number in future. We accept nominations from anyone. More information can be found here.”

Ethics evangelist, Don Gotterbarn, who won the award in 2021, promotes professional practice around the world, received his certificate at a dinner on 19th September 2023 because he was unable to travel until now. He stressed the importance of awards like this in getting the message across, saying we must always stay vigilant to ensure that all aspects of professionalism are embedded in all products and services provided by the ICT practitioners and suppliers. He reminded those present of the IFIP Code of Ethics, which is available to all as a guide to professional conduct and decision making.