The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Informational Technology Council has voted to install Ecosia as the default search engine on Microsoft Edge in campus computer labs.
Ecosia is a search engine that plants trees with its ad revenue. Currently, there are over 7 million active users. Ecosia publishes monthly financial reports and tree planting receipts to improve transparency with users. They currently have six planting sites.
The 2017-2018 chair of the Informational Technology Council is Eric Simkins, who has been a member of ITC for three years.
Simkins said the recommendation was introduced to the council in February 2016 by Dave Barbier and Justin Seis from the Office of Sustainability. They believed that Ecosia’s principles align with UWSP’s sustainability goals and initiatives.
Simkins said ITC voted on the recommendation on Nov. 3 and the motion passed 10-0-0.
“Ecosia runs on Bing, which is Microsoft’s search platform, and Edge runs on Microsoft, so there would be no change in the quality of results in the background which was one of the primary reasons,” said Simkins.
Ecosia will only be available on Microsoft Edge. Simkins said this is because, “if it were to be put in Chrome or Firefox, then custom coding would have to be done and that would require work time from IT Department.”
Justin Seis, speciality projects coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, is an ambassador for Ecosia. He said that when a fellow ambassador was able to implement the search engine on their college campus, he was inspired to try to do the same.
Seis said, “The Office of Sustainability sends out an annual Sustainability Literacy Assessment to all students which gauges the knowledge of students regarding sustainability issues and where the interests of students lie. For the last two years, the Sustainability Literacy Assessment asked if students would like to see Ecosia on campus computers and the results were favorable.”
Simkins said that there were still some concerns regarding the quality of results that Ecosia could produce compared to Google. If the recommendation passes Common Council, the changes cannot occur until January at the earliest said Simkins.
Now that the recommendation has passed ITC, Common Council will vote on it on Dec. 6.