Nesta's list of New Radicals always causes a stir in the social-innovation space. The list reflects not only some of the excellent work being done to help solve social problems, but also many of the key threads and developments in how we approach such problems as society. It's a pleasure to present here the New Radicals from the 2016 list - announced last week - who are using tech for good. To emphasise the breadth of work they represent, we've (perhaps crudely) categorised them according to the social issues they are tackling.
We’re also always encouraging debate around “What exactly is Tech For Good?” Join the debate in the comments below. We’re here to discuss all things Tech For Good.
Nesta's Tech-for-Good New Radicals of 2016 | 15.07.2016
Democracy Club is a collection of non-partisan online tools than makes democracy more accessible and transparent. Among other things, Democracy Club have created and crowdsourced an extensive list of information on political candidates, a polling-station finder, an election register, and a website (YourNextMP.com) providing details of local political candidates. These tools have been widely used, and make it much easier for people to understand and engage in politics. Democracy Club stand at the vanguard of digital democracy in the UK.
Michael Sani is a tireless political campaigner determined to engage more young people in politics. Digital tools are central to his work. In 2010, he launched bitetheballot.co.uk, a collection of online platforms aimed at engaging and educating young people in politics. He also uses online games as an engagement tool. Political engagement amongst young people is extremely low, and the shock Brexit vote only a fortnight ago demonstrated the profound impact this is having on our national politics. Work such as Michael’s is essential if this is to change.
Owen Winter is another young political campaigner using digital tools to affect political change. As a member of the UK Youth Parliament for Cornwall, Owen has been using online petitions, blogging platforms and social media to campaign on issues such as proportional representation and political engagement. Owen represents the new generation of digitally native politicians emerging as technology exponentially changes politics and society more widely.
Founders Pledge is an online platform that encourages time-poor tech entrepreneurs to donate a percentage of their income to charitable causes. To date, around 500 entrepreneurs have agreed to donate an average of approximately 4% of their income to charitable causes for at least two years. Philanthropy may not be able to solve social problems alone, but it can be an extremely powerful force not only financially, but in the norms it can help create. Moreover, Founders Pledge also run workshops and other initiatives to equip founders with the skills to affect positive change beyond philanthropy.
Sentimoto are developing a smartphone app that utilises existing smart watches to allow older people to access health and wellbeing information more clearly. By monitoring, processing and displaying key health metrics seamlessly and intuitively, their technology will allow older people and their families or friends to manage health conditions more easily and effectively.
Similarly, Aparito are developing wearables connected to an app that allows people to track their health conditions more effectively. The key difference here is that Aparito are designing primarily for children suffering from rare diseases.
Recent graduate James Roberts conceived of mOm Incubators in the final year of his Product Design degree. The incubator is inflatable and electronically controlled, and is designed to save the lives of children born prematurely in places without western-style incubators. mOm Incubators look set to have a significant impact: 10% of babies are born prematurely, and 75% could be saved with inexpensive technology like James’.
Mind of My Own (MOMO) is a digital platform that allows young people in care to communicate more candidly and efficiently with their social-care teams - something that is often extremely difficult. MOMO has been adopted by 37 local authorities, and is set to expand to cater to young people with learning disabilities.
Beautiful Information develop digital tools that use live, intuitive data to inform health management. Headed by Dr. Marc Farr, Beautiful Information was developed from inside the NHS. By providing medical professionals with real-time information around things like bed availability, waiting times and patient requirements, the technology has enormous potential for hospital management. Indeed, a recent Croydon case study demonstrated a 20% reduction in pressure on hospital beds.
Alcove is a digital adult social-care service which uses the Internet of Things to collect data from equipment in people’s homes that allows its system to work out when something unusual occurs. Alcove's systems help caregivers by providing them with evidence-based guidance, rather than leaving them largely to guess how people are coping with independent living. The company has been developing, trialling and launching new products which help achieve enhanced safeguarding and a better quality of life for the cared-for and carers, as well as reduced costs of living.
Sarah Gold is a designer working to produce tools in the areas of privacy and security that empower people to take control of their data. She founded Projects by IF, which, among other projects, is working to produce data licenses that allow people to define the terms upon which they share their data. Sarah also sits on the advisory board here at Tech for Good.
The team at Provenance are passionate about the narrative of products beyond aspects such as price, colour and features. That’s why they have designed software that allows producers to incorporate the back story if their products into their points of sale. Such technology could not only encourage greater consumer awareness, but also more ethical consumption.
Wayfindr have produced Open Standard, a fully public audio toolkit used to guide people suffering from sight loss around physical environments. Beyond this toolkit, Wayfindr is also a collaborative community of developers, sight-loss charities, researchers and venues intent not only on making independent navigation easier for people with sight loss, but on creating a society more inclusive of and knowledgeable about sight loss.
Founded by Euan MacDonald, Euan’s Guide is a website dedicated to providing as much information as possible about disability access in venues across the world. Such information is often missing from popular review sites, and Euan’s Guide is helping thousands of people with disabilities fill that void. The site is set to expand in the near future.
Non-profit Chayn is a set of websites and open-source digital tools designed to help women escape abusive relationships and environments. Chayn’s primary aim is to get important information to vulnerable women as quickly and safely as possible. What’s more, Chayn is not only 100% volunteer run, but primarily survivor-led.
The Refugee Crisis
Techfugees is a non-profit social enterprise co-ordinating the international tech community’s response to the needs of refugees fleeing war, famine and persecution. It has grown to 11,000 members. Successes include bringing wifi to the refugee camps in Calais; their GeeCycle.com platform, which allows people to donate mobile phones to refugees; and the launch of Basefugee, an open-source platform that matches tech solutions with NGO problems.