When it comes to technology I've always been of the belief that if it can't make life easier or simplier, then who cares. So, when it comes to creating positive social change, I'm all ears. Last Friday, Renjie Butlalid, Communications Coordinator for Social Innovation Generation at the University of Waterloo, spoke at EPIC's EpCon 2010 event in Waterloo, Ontario.
Renjie challenged the delegates to question how they could use their education to use technology to transform social dilemmas. Renjie, himself, is passionate about using online communities, technology and social media to create positive social change. Furthermore, he is convinced that young people have the power and opportunity, like never before, to affect ositive change in the world.
During his presentation he cited four examples of companies and initiatives that have used technology to create meaningful societal change:
- KIVA - A dream of lending to low-income entrepreneurs via the internet is now one of the largest and most successful micro-lending programs in the world with thousands of people now able to live in dignity.
- Cell-Life - The vision of Cell-Life is to improve the lives of people affected by AIDS in South Africa through the use of mobile technology.
- SIMpill - According to their website, the SIMpill Medication Adherence System monitors the patient's medication schedule and intake of medication and reminds patients and carers as necessary by sending a text message to the patient and/or carers mobile phone if the patient does not take their medication as prescribed.
- MoCa - MoCa connects health workers in developing nations to medical professionals around the world via mobile technology.
To date, more than $10 million has been raised via SMS for Haiti earthquake relief. With two-thirds of Africa's 4.5 billion people using some sort of mobile technology in the next 2 years, the opportunity for social change is not just a hope anymore: it's real.