Focusing on the possibilities of technology-driven change in the world, a few examples of my favourite topics encountered at tech conferences the past few months…
An international campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 7 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, primarily in Africa. Their campaign aimed to help reduce extreme poverty to near zero by 2030. That’s the goal - and it's an ambitious one.
So what does that have to do with a tech conference? Simply this: effective action is about having the right data. ONE stresses the importance of reliable data for effective campaigning and raising awareness of the “extreme poverty of extreme poverty data”. For example, a third of births amongst the extreme poor are not registered - and similarly with two thirds of deaths. These are statistics with the power to enact lasting change.
Improving this shocking state of affairs means helping people in these situations get online and start using affordable, powerful communication tech - like the humble mobile phone. In northern Europe and the States, a phone is seen as a luxury. In developing countries, it's a necessity. With a phone, it's possibly to inform organisations about what’s really going on in target communities, and to identify and track the spending of aid money.
A non-profit organization that provides clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations, outlined their biggest challenge: convincing people to take action and to care about the 600 million people in the world living without clean water.
The reality is simple. Every year, more and more people die from unclean water and the disease it carries than all forms of violence - up to and including warfare. The solution is equally straightforward. With the right technology, unclean water can become a thing of the past - along with the 20 million hours expended by woman and girls walking to access this mainly tainted water.
Enter VR. Through combining tech and storytelling, Virtually Reality puts us into the shoes of the affected - into a village in Ethiopia where thirteen year old girls are walking 8 hours a day to and from waterholes.
it's been described as an “empathy machine” that has the power to get under people’s skin in a way mere facts cannot, and to show them where and how the work is being done, and then see the end result - seeing the people drink clean, safe water.