Josine Overdevest, chairperson of the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) Social and Ethics Committee, has been named the winner of the IFIP IP3 David O’Leary Award by REDDS Capital.

Overdevest is also a non-executive director on the board of IITPSA and founder of Flying Cows of Jozi.

IFIP IP3, the International Professional Practice Partnership, leads the development of the global ICT profession.  Its David O’Leary Award by REDDS Capital acknowledges 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 judging criteria include professionalism, Continuous Professional Development, service to an organisation and the broader community, trustworthiness, accountability, pride in the profession and setting a good example, ethics evangelism and fostering of diversity.

The David O’Leary award includes a cash prize of USD1500, and travel to IFIPs General Assembly to receive the prize.

Moira de Roche, Chair of 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.”

Overdevest 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.”

She went on to explain: “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 their 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 twenty years I’ve contributed to bridging the digital divide especially in basic education, culminating in the establishment of Flying Cows of Jozi.

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 the development stages, from design to implementation, of not just AI but all digital technology.

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