At the Social Good Summit I spent a lot of time in the digital media lounge, blogging and live tweeting as speaker after speaker spoke about the issues affecting our world today. I wrote and posted on various social media platforms and listened intently as people spoke about various innovations. About 90% of the innovations that were mentioned involved technology and I realized that technology, and social good are inseparable. The challenges and dynamics of this day and age have coalesced into a fitting reliance on technology, but what exactly is the role of technology in social good and what has technology done at a practical level?
Technology is influencing social change in various ways. Technology is influenced social change by making information more accessible to people. For example social media, telecommunications and the internet are facilitating the exchange of information between and among various groups at grassroots, national and international levels. Technology is being used to mobilize people to challenge harmful practices such as gender based violence and abuse of children through disseminating messages on social media. The Social Good Summit in New York was complemented by various social good meet ups in Africa and the Middle East and those who were not able to attend physically managed to connect virtually through Google Hangouts.
In nonprofit work, technology is influencing social good by increasing easy access to real time data that is crucial for decision making. Mobile devices are being used to track malaria incidence in Zambia, Personal Digital Assistance are making it possible to conduct large scale surveys seamlessly while reducing data transcription errors in Zimbabwe and Geo Informatics Systems (GIS) are being used to map service delivery and avoid project overlaps in West Africa. These examples demonstrate how technology is contributing to social good by improving effectiveness and efficiency of development work.
Technological innovations are influencing social change by solving everyday problems, leading to better outcomes. For example a more fuel efficient wood stove in Sudan is making women spend less time cooking hence freeing up time for classes and other social activities. These stoves use less wood and are reducing the reliance on wood for fuel. The world is becoming increasingly interconnected and the benefits and opportunities presented by technological advances cannot be ignored. As we talk about social good, let us also talk about technology.