Along with rapid advances in technology comes responsibility – to make sure our ways of living and our environment come out on the right side of the deal. When entrepreneurs can make history, and simultaneously positively impact society and their planet, all’s right with the world.
Following are ten tech projects which are using technology to solve current issues. Hopefully, the trend will continue gaining momentum, allowing ideas to hatch solutions sorely needed across the globe.
When you’re involved in multi-regional enterprises, don’t forget to consult with an experienced business solicitor to ensure that all of your trademark and liability boxes are ticked.
A story by Monty Munford tells us how Techfugees came into being, and how its influence allowed refugees to communicate again in short order with a group effort by the London tech community.
Mike Butcher, top tech influencer and editor of Techcrunch, organised a rapid gathering of the brightest minds in the UK tech community. He pulled together a conference, choreographed a hackathon and also crowdsourced the funds to take WiFi to the remote Calais refugee camp in northern France.
More hackathons are planned, as Butcher believes Techfugees is a movement, rather than just an organisation – to whit, it has joined with Canada’s Peace Geeks to ensure it lasts through the refugee crisis.
Just a few of the outcroppings from Techfugees’ events included:
2. GeeCycle.org – a way to donate your old mobile phone to refugees
3. Refugees On Rails – empowers refugees to learn coding for a self-reliant future
4. Migreat.com – simplifies the online visa application process for free
5. MyRefuge.world – locate a host who will take in a refugee
6. BioCarbon Engineering – N.6 from UK tech projects
Twenty-six billion trees are destroyed annually around the globe – from lumber, mining, agriculture and urban expansion. Well, this UK startup is on a mission to put them back. Recognising that social organisations make regular attempts at small to massive strides in reforestation (over 400,000 in 2 years were planted in Ireland and Northern Ireland) this award winning startup is using emerging technologies.
We first discovered this project in a post by Renee Morad, who describes the process to be taken. Deployed fixed-wing drones will assess areas for planting, creating 3D mapping for paintball-type rotors to shoot seed pods into specific locations. The drones will keep a watch over the progress and provide valuable data for future efforts.
Author Trevor Clawson describes how this UK social enterprise is using SMS (rather than the Internet) with old-style mobile phones to create a peer-to-peer global information system – in which community members can ask for and receive help from each other. UK charity Cafédirect Producers Foundation, run by smallholder farmers, backed the testing of this concept for five years, until 2015 saw the transition of WeFarm to an enterprise capable of raising its own revenues.
By advertising for relevant industries (such as seed manufacturers) the organisation enables marketers to reach emerging markets, whilst the revenues allow them to extend their reach beyond Kenya and Peru. Altogether a win-win formula boosting this startup’s growth for a bigger impact.
The Uk is not alone when it comes to the social isolation problems inherent with those over 50 years old. Volunteers engage through this website to share their meals with elderly or disabled neighbours, and those in need can create a profile or give consent to a trusted friend to do it for them. Cooks must pass a hygiene test and a DBS check, so the bases are all covered. It’s a small but mighty act of kindness, one dish at a time.
9. Euan’s Guide
Euan MacDonald from Edinburgh has created a directory for the disabled, allowing personal reviews from physically challenged consumers. Their honest opinions on accessibility and overall experience help to spread the word and encourage mobility within local communities. You’ll find the lists include an unexpected growing number of countries, from the Isle of Man and Ireland to the U.S. and Canada. It’s a brilliant concept which will hopefully continue to spread its wings.
With the UK itself consuming over 70 million cups of coffee annually, the half-a-million tonnes of leftover waste can be used to create way more energy than the drink. Writer James Temperton relates how Bio-Bean’s co-founder Arthur Kay thought of the idea while designing a closed-loop system to power a coffee shop and a factory. Two years later the facility is processing 50k tonnes annually; saving the same carbon emissions that would be headed off by planting 4.5 million trees!
Kay’s factory produces both small biomass pellets and biodiesel from coffee waste. He says that, “80% of CO2 emissions are attributable to cities” – to support the 10 billion people projected be alive in 2050, we’ll need to build 250 New York-sized cities.