What’s Up with Tech for Good?
Twenty years ago the idea of putting voice mail (it was new and shiny technology then) into the hands of homeless people to connect them to services and hope was a revolutionary one. That revolutionary idea spawned Community Voice Mail, the core program at Springwire. Since then our national network of 2,000 social service agencies in 400 cities has helped thousands of people find jobs, housing and other assistance. We continue to innovate with Resource Broadcasting and pilots like our Digital Documents project. Reflecting on our history got me wondering, “What’s up with the application of bright and shiny technology for good these days?” The answer is, a lot.
One source of news and inspiration on tech for good are the daily updates from GOOD, “a collaboration of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward.” Here are a couple of examples that jumped out at me recently:
Click here for Good Food
Good Eggs, an online marketplace for Bay Area food sellers that helps local farmers & foodmakers sell direct. It’s a means to eating well: you can shop for organic produce, gluten-free muffins, free-range meat, small-batch coffee, and order a subscription to receive weekly delivery (sometimes by bicycle) of your favorite products. Good Eggs founders announced their ambitious plans for the project on the food blog Civil Eats: “What if we could use technology-based products or services to grow local food systems ten-fold or even twenty-fold in the next few years–from one percent of the current food production in our country today to 10 to 20 percent in the next decade? […] Our hypothesis is that some technology-based product or service will be an important enabler.” Each food purveyor gets its own branded page to advertise itself, and the site takes a three-percent service fee for each transaction.
Good design sometimes trumps complicated technology, as in this example: Virgin America’s introduction of four “hydration stations” for refilling water bottles at San Francisco International Airport. The idea is beginning to catch on: Chicago’s O’Hare Airport now has water fountains modified to encourage your filling a water bottle. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport added hydrations stations earlier this summer. The need? As GOOD blogger Zachary Slobig puts it, “Even the most stalwart opponents of purchasing bottled water occasionally find themselves thirsty in a captive environment. Airports are one of these captive places.”
I’m on the hunt for more examples of tech for good and will be back to share again on the Springwire blog. I’d love to hear from you — what examples are you seeing out there?
Image courtesy of www.good.is