I love reading stories about technology making people’s lives better in unexpected ways. I really like it when the people served are not in the tech-savvy upper-class, but are still finding ways to improve their lives. Here are three of my favorites.
Bitcoin makes life safer for Venezuelan families.
In the past few years, the economic situation in Venezuela has been absolutely disastrous. I’m not getting into the politics, but the reality is that a Venezuelan family has to use the black market in order to buy daily necessities. That market is typically cash only. It invites violent crime, which has become another huge problem.
But technology has provided an unexpected solution. Bitcoin is huge in Venezuela! Average citizens buy and sell goods without having to carry cash. They trade Bitcoin. The technology behind the currency has made it reliable.
The technology has eased the danger of holding cash when normal tools of banking are not available, and allowed families to get the goods they need to live day to day. Read more about this story here.
Kenyans crowdsource reports of violence.
In 2007, elections in Kenya were bitterly disputed. Violence started to erupt as supporters of each candidate accused others of fraud and tried to take matters into their own hands. Unrest grew rapidly, and it was difficult to know what areas were safe. Official media and government sources simply couldn’t provide reliable and timely news.
Developers realized that everyone in Kenya had an SMS-enabled cell phone. They set up a service allowing anyone to send reports of situations of violence via text message. These were verified quickly by other volunteers.
A website (initially built on Google Maps) became the nation’s most accurate source for safety information. The average citizen could feel safe as they made plans to get to work, shop for dinner, or just live life in their town. Read more about this story.
Technology helps deliver care to the disabled.
At Skuid, one of our heros is Rich Slack. He helps lead Chrysalis, a company that supports individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities so they can live fulfilling lives. Chrysalis runs group homes and provides other services to these folks.
Rich was looking for ways to improve the tools his employees used to schedule, track, and manage all aspects of their patients lives. His employees have a demanding job, and their work has to be documented with accuracy (as all medical work does).
Typically these are not very high paying jobs. Rich used Skuid to build apps that make his employees’ work quicker, easier and more enjoyable. This is one way he shows them how much he appreciates the work they do.
It is one way technology can improve the quality of their work, and the quality of their experience. Read more about Rich and Chrysalis.