Technologies and Tools for Social Good

SIC objective is to promote different technologies and tools as means for sustainable, responsible, effective and efficient solutions that increase well-being of every society member and/or draw the attention of the society to its challenging problems motivating to seek resolutions and/or solutions.

The global report “Technology for Good: Innovative Use of Technology by Charities” (Download PDF) on how NGOs use technology for social change developed by the TechSoup Global and the Guardian’s Global Development Professionals Network in 2013 have grouped the technologies into following categories:

  1. Mobile technology: Mobile devices that range from low-end talk and text phones to smartphones or tablets.
  2. Tracking technology: GPS or other monitoring systems that track people and goods.
  3. Mapping technology: Tools that organize geographic data and feed data sets into a digital map.
  4. Data management technologies: Tools for processing large amounts of data or improving administrative functions.
  5. Social media and crowdsourcing: Data collection through open-sources.
  6. Radio/TV: New uses of these two important mass communication mediums in the developing world.
  7. Translation Tools: Quick or immediate translations using a combination of technology and crowdsourcing.
  8. Cloud Technology: Computing that allows access to software and information via the Internet instead of a hard drive or computer network.
  9. Portable Networks: Moveable devices that can create instant Internet connectivity or telecommunication networks.
  10. Drone Technology: Unmanned aerial vehicles used to leapfrog infrastructural deficits.

But these categories can be further extended by the noteworthy advances in robotics and 3D printing.

The statistics published at Techchange show that

over 90% of the world is now covered by a cellular network, 30% of the world has access to the internet,

and number of tools have been developed to foster learning and collaboration, transform conflicts, fight diseases, monitor elections, distribute food, and more.

Upon specific applications of the technologies one can mention:

  • crowdfunding Web sites that connect people with project ideas (creative, social entrepreneurship and other) and people willing to contribute by donating money for these projects, for instance, KickStarter or Indiegogo;
  • tools to create online shops allow social entrepreneurs to offer their goods or services online and considerably reduce the operational costs;
  • Facebook or Twitter social networks are very often used for different social campaigns: raising awareness on certain issues and/or charity campaigns to raise funds, for instance, #NoMakeUpSelfie campaign in terms of which woman from all around the world published their ‘natural’ selfies without any make-up to raise money for cancer research, for more information “Time” article “#NoMakeupSelfie Brings Out the Worst of the Internet for a Good Cause“;
  • educational resources made available online and very often free of charge: the pioneering resource was the Khan Academy which further inspired such resources as Udacity, Coursera, OpenUpEd that currently offer courses from the world leading universities. Others specialize in social change such as Techchange and Acumen+;
  • opensource construction set wikihouse whose aim is to allow anyone to design, download and ‘print’ CNC-milled houses and components which can be assembled with minimal formal skill or training;
  • wide range of technologies are being developed to ease and make available and more effective different kinds of medical diagnostics or improve lives of disabled people, for instance, an eye-exam using smartphone or bionic limbs that allow again a person to climb and dance.

Several popular online media are covering topics on usage of technologies for social good on rolling basis, for instance, MashableTechcrunch or White Fuse.

Another noteworthy resource listing more than 100 inspiring social innovations using digital technology is the Social Tech Guide interactive Web site.

Check the resources below for more information and examples for using technologies and tools for social good.

Photo Credit: NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham

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