dMASS, Inc. was a partner in this year's Buckminster Fuller Challenge. This article is one in a series about the semi-finalists. A wide range of systems-based solutions to global problems are emerging, and many of these have a common theme: matching existing resources to needs. In other words – how can we use resources that are already in play to solve problems?

Two organizations in this year's Challenge exemplify this approach to strategic resource use: International Bridges to Justice Legal Training Resource Center (IBJ) and the 100,000 Homes Campaign. IBJ is focused on ensuring that the human rights of defendants in legal systems throughout the world are protected. The organization has determined that simply providing defendants with lawyers is not a sufficient solution since many of those lawyers lack requisite knowledge about existing rights protections or an understanding of how to enforce them.  But this knowledge and understanding exists-- among more experienced lawyers, in legal codes, in law books, and in best practice case studies. IBJ is tapping into this existing knowledge resource to equip public defenders' to protect their clients' rights. Through a comprehensive, open-source online course platform, they are enabling tens of thousands of people to develop capacity to ensure legal protections.

The 100,000 Homes Campaign has a very different focus, but a similar approach. The organization aims to house 100,000 chronically homeless Americans by 2014. To do so, the campaign provides communities with tools and strategies to collect and use data to determine how to best allocate available social service resources. The campaign has created an online network where participating communities can share strategies and best practices for implementing the program and measuring and tracking progress.

In both cases, knowledge and data drive solutions that harness existing resources. Have you had an experience with a similar approach? Share it in the comments below.

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