As we work for progress on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), I believe that there is one intervention that will enable progress on all 17 goals: harnessing the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for social good.
Internet, mobile and telecommunication networks have the power to connect people to health care, education and have great potential to accelerate human progress. Yet, the question remains: How can we ensure that everyone – regardless of gender, geography, or income – can participate equally in the digital world?
In an attempt to keep the Internet open and inclusive, Mozilla has launched a global challenge to tackle digital inclusion. Mozilla issued their annual Equal Rating Innovation Challenge to entrepreneurs and innovators asking:
How can we encourage affordable solutions to bring the next four billion people online?
On 9 March, in New York City, five semi-finalists participated in a Demo Day at the Equal Rating Conference, which is a chance to pitch their idea to a panel of judges and compete for the top prize. Mozilla has put forward prize money totaling $250,000 to build the strongest solutions for digital inclusion. These five ideas are now being put to the public and community voting is open until 16 March.
I had the great opportunity to take part in the Equal Rating Conference to learn more about the solutions being proposed. Among the five finalists, there was an overwhelming sense of their drive and passion for innovative solutions to benefit humanity.
Here are the five amazing people and projects at this year’s Equal Rating Conference Demo Day:
All of the proposed solutions can make real differences to the communities they serve. Not only do they take into consideration the limits and barriers of the technologies, but also the social, cultural and economic barriers that may hinder the adoption of their solutions.
Some of the technological barriers include the need to have low-power consumption; building for robust offline experience keeping in mind users may have spotty coverage; and taking into account the need for dual SIMs. The human barriers to overcome included digital literacy and the fear and lack of understanding of technology; the affordability of devices or services; the lack of relevant local content and information and others. I encourage all of you to learn more about these solutions and vote for your favourite technological solutions.
As we progress towards the achievement of the SDGs, I also encourage all stakeholders to continue to put technology to use for social good. As there are 169 SDG targets, I would say there are at least 169 opportunities to do good!
For more information, you can download my presentation here: Mozilla_EqualRating_Gary_Fowlie
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