Tech for Good: Advancements to Further Social Change

July 9, 2020 • Zachary Amos

Many people focus on the downsides of technology. They discuss how advanced robots could take away jobs from hard-working people or bring up how social media platforms make it easier for schoolchildren to engage in online bullying. 

While it’s true that technology comes with disadvantages, many people are trying to use tech for good. Here are some fascinating examples of technology bringing about positive social change. 

Attempts to Reduce Food Insecurity 

Some households rarely or never worry about where to get their next meals. They either have plenty of food in the cupboards, fridge and freezer or enjoy enough disposable income to get food delivered or have meals out. 

Many families are not so fortunate, so food insecurity is an everyday concern. Numerous organizations are using technology to help. There’s no universal fix, so the efforts range from giving farmers a text-based platform they can use to get crop advice without internet connections to using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to monitor flour mills. 

Blockchain Technology Improves Identity Management for the Homeless

One of the pressing problems for homeless populations is that people generally need proof of identity to access local services. If a homeless person lost their ID years ago or their necessary paperwork got wet in a rainstorm, they’ll likely encounter time-consuming obstacles — some of which seem insurmountable. For example, if an individual has no fixed address, providing a place to have a replacement ID mailed may be out of the question.

Austin, Texas, is one of the cities implementing tech for good to solve these problems. Officials there hope that blockchain technology, which offers a distributed digital ledger system, could store the identifying information that homeless people need to prove who they are. Having the details kept digitally could mean the information follows individuals wherever they go, and there’s no risk of it getting lost or stolen during life on the street. 

Making the Internet Accessible Empowers Learners

As the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools and workplaces, many people kept learning and making an income through the internet. That wasn’t possible for those who didn’t have the internet at home, however. The scenario became even worse for people who primarily accessed online resources from places that temporarily closed due to the virus, such as libraries. 

A recent partnership between telecom operators solved the issue for residents in sub-Saharan Africa. It gave them complimentary internet access to use e-learning platforms. Such a perk provides a range of advantages by either allowing learners to continue their studies or encouraging people to explore e-learning for the first time. 

Social change happens, then, when people grow their knowledge to broaden their prospects and rise above their circumstances. Consider a person who grows up in a household of residents who could not afford college and work minimum-wage jobs. They may anticipate the same scenario for themselves until they hear about an online degree program that could put them on a well-paying, satisfying career path. 

Education alone may not spur social change. However, it often causes a spark and encourages people to explore what’s possible. The internet opens options that were formerly out of reach. 

Online Platforms Give Social Change Efforts a Bigger Reach

Technology also has plenty of potential concerning getting the word out about social problems and explaining how the community at large could ease them. Consider an issue that many people probably don’t think about every day unless they’re directly affected by it, such as domestic violence. 

A domestic violence organization could run a campaign reminding people of how domestic abuse takes many forms. It is not always physical. For example, a perpetrator may block their partner’s access to finances, control what they wear and subject them to ongoing putdowns that erode their self-esteem. 

If the group creates a video about the lesser-known aspects of this kind of abuse, it might go viral on social media. That exposure may urge members of the public to donate to the cause so that more people receive the help they need. Such efforts also raise awareness of domestic abuse — a topic that many individuals would rather ignore. 

Using the internet to shed light on a topic also helps people learn more about the issues facing their communities. For example, a local humanitarian organization might publish a blog about dozens of refugees who recently arrived in a town bringing few belongings. Once residents hear about the situation through the internet, many may realize they have clothes and unneeded household goods to donate. 

Applying Tech for Good Is Not a Far-Fetched Idea

These examples prove that technology can build positive social change momentum in the world. The trend can continue, especially if forward-thinking organizations identify issues and ponder how tech could solve them.



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