Sunday, 25 March 2012

Using technology for social good

This is a topic I will come back to as it is a fine example of how technology can be used innovatively at very little cost and yet make a major impact.

Jennifer Pahlka (@pahlkadot) is the founder of Code for America, which matches software geniuses with US cities to reboot local services. This is an amazing initiative that takes this talent to build apps, to communicate with the community to solve issues in their own area. What has ordinarily taken government projects many months if not years to achieve is being completed at a fraction of the cost. Social media channels are used to spread the word. Members of the community then get involved with community projects as volunteers.

For example Adopt-a-Hydrant lets citizens claim responsibility for shoveling out hydrants during snowstorms. 

"In the midst of winter snowstorms, buried hydrants cause dangerous delays in the ability of fire fighters to respond to fire emergencies. To check and clear thousands of hydrants across the city of Boston, would be a timely, costly, and burdensome process. Adopt-a-Hydrant lets governments turn to the community. This map-based web app allows individuals, small businesses, and community organizations to volunteer to be responsible for shoveling out specific hydrants. These apps may only take a couple of days to create and then through social media spread virally"

That was just its beginning. Now it's being used in multiple cities for multiple purposes such as keeping storm drains clear and checking that tsunami siren alarms in Hawaii each have a working battery. 

Call for action