In the final week of the year, we thought we’d mix it up a little and cover our favourite Tech for Good apps, stories and announcements from 2015. It’s been quite a 12 months in the Tech for Good world and while we’ve been delighted to share some of its best innovations week in week out, there have been some that have stood out due to their inventiveness, impact and overall game-changing results.
Though we could make this list several times over, in no particular order other than chronological, below are twelve of our favourite Tech for Goods in a variety of fields and expertise having made a difference to the lives of citizens and communities across the world…
At the start of the year we highlighted Be My Eyes, an app connecting blind people with volunteer helpers from around the world via live video chat. ‘Made with love in Copenhagen,’ to date the app has recorded over 100,000 cases of visually impaired people being assisted in various situations, very often by perfect strangers.
Thanks to the fantastic work being done in assisting people with spinal cord injuries to lives of independence, UK-based charity Aspire helped Nicolas “Pikki” Fearon to walk again after a life-threatening motorbike accident. The film producer became one of the first to use physiotherapy rehabilitation technology, designed by PhysioFunction Ltd, to take his first steps in more than a decade.
After 50 years of working to change lives across the world, it’s only right to give a special mention to Rugby-based charity Practical Action. Celebrating half a century of enabling people and communities to build on their skills and knowledge to produce sustainable and practical solutions, the NGO works specifically in the tech field to challenge poverty in developing nations, transforming the lives of citizens forever while aiming to protect their world around them.
Perhaps one of the more bizarre stories of combined civic and tech for good in 2015 was the creation of eight-foot humanistic robocops designed to provide practical solutions to the deadly roads of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. But RoboTrafficCops were more than just a fantastical novelty, as the idea behind the creation was realised by two women in a truly male-dominated field in West Africa. Focused on ending corruption, traffic deaths and the rule of the law in their home nation, the design duo’s prototype was more than just a little memorable.
The month of May saw the UK swept up in the frenzy of live debates, Twitter wars and heightened digital engagement on the run up to the General Election. While the outcome may have been a surprise to most, the advent of new tech to gain insight into just who we were voting for wasn’t. Votr was one of the freshest and most useful apps which allowed the electorate to follow the tweets of their constituency candidates in such a concise manner that insight was gained on how aligned we were to our wannabe MPs.
India’s culture and relationship with domestic and sexual abuse in public places has been defined in 2015 by the design of apps which have not only gone a long way to highlight the issues, but also challenge and prevent them. A number of projects and digital apps such as Little Sister Project and Safecity have grown in the awareness and engagement of the issue.
With an increase of 30% in the diagnoses of children with autism since 2012, the ground for the introduction of apps to improve learning in this area has been fertile. Yuudee, VocalID and easyAAC are just a few of the tools proving their worth in relation to aided language function, communication, behavioral and social skills development.
Stories in connection to solar-powered technology have been seen around more than energy panels on commercial and domestic roofs this year. Take the example of the Repurpose Bag, a sustainable solution to poverty-stricken communities in the form of a backpack which can be charged during daylight hours and used as a lamp at night time while tackling homework. As a healthier option to kerosene lamps, the packs are an excellent innovation on many levels.
Global food waste was a topic hot on the lips of followers of sustainable solutions this year. With Americans alone wasting over 70 billion pounds of food annually, tech for good app Foodee has helped consumers to identify the expiry date of fruit and vegetables with its smart kitchen scale. With its mission to get the most out of every perishable item purchased, there seems no excuse not to stretch the best out of what’s in our fridges and larders by keeping them of our bins.
Twitter had its fair share of internal ups and downs in 2015, though one use of its popularity aimed to have a positive impact around natural disasters. This year, the U.S. Geological Survey, a government agency that tracks earthquakes, used the social media platform to crowdsource tweets to course dangerous geological movements of the earth. The viable system has proven itself in areas where the Survey’s sensors do not detect precarious activity across the globe.
HIV self-testing kits may not be a totally new innovation in 2015, but one iteration has aided testers with low-literacy to follow instructions in South Africa. To combat the nation’s epidemic HIV figures, one design firm and a non-profit project combined to improve the testing method with easy-to-understand results. Covering health and literacy, this enhanced testing kit is the perfect example of civic and tech for good innovation at grassroots.
The holiday season is billed as the time of goodwill and giving, and while corporate retailers are often viewed as the cynical winners come the final month of the year, one famous brand showed their charitable side with a Good Deed Machine. Gap partnered with sock brand Bombas to host the machine which encouraged consumers to create their own acts of kindness. During one week of the installation being active, over 5,000 good deeds were cast, proving that selflessness is alive and well at the most festive time of the year.
In the final week of the year, we thought we’d mix it up a little and cover our favourite Tech for Good apps, stories and announcements from 2015