Digital technology has already transformed how we communicate, how we work, how we buy and sell. But we are only just beginning to scratch the surface of ways technology can be used to transform how we address complex social challenges, from health and education to poverty and climate change.
Nominet Trust has compiled the Social Tech Guide to celebrate the pioneers who are using digital technology to make a real difference to millions of lives. This is a dynamic resource designed to inspire and accelerate the use of digital technology as a tool for significant social change.
We are launching the Social Tech Guide with the Nominet Trust 100, a list of the 100 most inspiring social tech innovations from across the world, curated by Charles Leadbeater with the help of a steering group comprising prominent digital and social entrepreneurs. We hope that this list will prompt debate and invite hundreds of suggestions of other social tech innovations that have inspired you.
Openess, active sharing and transparency are key features of many of the social innovations shared through this site. Building on those values, the data behind The Social Tech Guide can be downloaded and reused under a Creative Commons Attribution license. If reusing, sharing or remixing this work please attribute to “Nominet Trust’s Social Tech Guide: SocialTech.org.uk”.Download the NT100 data set
Innovations marked with this icon are not just inspiring activities in their own right but have led the way for a number of other innovations that have learnt from their efforts and built on their approaches. These are trailblazers of social tech innovation.
Some innovations are inspiring for what they have achieved and the social value they have created. The ‘ones to watch’ are inspiring for the possibilities that they offer and the significant potential that their approach creates for transforming social challenges.
Over the coming months we will be adding more examples of social innovation. If you know of an innovation that isn't featured on this list, do let us know via email/Twitter and we will look into it!
Rory Cellan-Jones is a British journalist for BBC News, specialising in economics and technology. Rory has been watching the technology scene like a hawk for the last 15 years, from the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s to the rise of Google and Facebook.
He has covered issues such as Black Wednesday, the BCCI scandal and Marks and Spencer’s competition troubles. His previous blog, Dot.Rory, was named among the Top 100 blogs by the Sunday Times. After the dot com crash of 2000, he wrote the book Dot.bomb. His work and writing explores the impact of the internet and digital technology on our lives and businesses. Rory has been described as ‘the non-geek's geek’, and freely admits that he came late to technology—but he aims to explain its significance to anyone with an interest in the subject.
Madhav Chavan is an Indian educator, social activist and social entrepreneur. He is the co-founder and CEO of educational non-profit Pratham, an organisation that reaches three million primary school children in India every year. He also started the Read India campaign, which aims to teach basic reading, writing and arithmetic to underprivileged children across India. Pratham has been recognised by the Kravis Prize and the Skoll Award for its innovation and leadership as a social entrepreneurial organisation in the area of education. Madhav was recently awarded the WISE Prize for Education instituted by the Qatar Foundation at the World Innovation Summit for Education, which is equated with a ‘Nobel for work done in education’.
Dr. Chavan is a creative individual who has anchored television shows, written songs about human rights and women’s rights. He enjoys working out creative ways to educate or train children and youth. He finds time to work on the challenges of teaching while balancing his duties as the CEO of a big organisation.
Caroline Daniel is currently Editor of the Weekend FT, and was appointed in June 2010. She oversees all of the Weekend FT output, as well as managing the relationship between editorial and commercial. Prior to this she ran the FT’s op-ed page during the financial crisis, including overseeing the Future of Capitalism series that included Amartya Sen, Alan Greenspan, Nigel Lawson, Larry Summers and PJ O Rourke. She joined the FT in 1999 covering the internet sector - from the rise of Lastminute.com to the bursting of the dotcom bubble. She was the FT technology correspondent until 2002 when she became the FT Chicago correspondent, before moving to Washington as the FT’s White House correspondent. She won the prestigious Laurence Stern Fellowship to the Washington Post in 1998, has been a writer for New Statesman and The Economist and had worked as a researcher for Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom. She was research editor for Values, Visions and Voices by Gordon Brown and Tony Wright. She is a trustee of the IPPR. She is also a regular guest on the BBC and Sky News.
Professor William H. Dutton is Professor of Internet Studies, University of Oxford, and Fellow of Balliol College. Before coming to Oxford in 2002, he was a Professor in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, where he remains an Emeritus Professor. In the UK, he was a Fulbright Scholar 1986-87, and was National Director of the UK's Programme on Information and Communication Technologies (PICT) from 1993 to 1996, and founding Director of the Oxford Internet Institute (2002-11).
Professor Dutton is Principal Investigator of the Oxford Internet Surveys (OxIS), a key resource on the use and impact of the Internet in Britain, which is one component of the World Internet Project, an international collaboration comprising over 40 nations. He is also the principal investigator on the Internet Values Project at the OII, which has been conducted in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, leading to his work on the ‘New Internet World’. His conception of 'The Fifth Estate' of the Internet realm is the focus of his current research and a book in progress.
His most recent books on the social aspects of information and communication technologies include The Oxford Handbook of Internet Studies (Oxford University Press, 2013), and a four volume series of readings on Politics and the Internet (Routledge forthcoming).
His service includes chairing the Advisory Committee for England of the UK's Office of Communications (Ofcom), and participating on the NHS Direct Innovation Committee.
Jeremy Heimans is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Purpose, a global initiative that draws on leading technologies, political organising and behavioural economics to build powerful, tech-savvy movements that can transform culture and influence policy. He also co-founded Avaaz.org, the fastest-growing online movement in history with more than 8 million members from 190 countries, and GetUp.org, a grassroots community advocacy organisation.
Heimans began his career with McKinsey and serves as a Member of the Advisory Board of LeapFrog Investments. He was educated at Harvard University and the University of Sydney. Jeremy has been heavily involved in campaigning and political organisation since a very young age, having for example organised a fax campaign against the first Iraq war before the internet had been invented.
Lord Jim Knight is a Visiting Professor at the London Knowledge Lab in the Institute of Education, University of London. He works as a consultant specialising in advising on the use of technology in education and employment, currently working with TSL Education, Alderwood Recruitment and Step-A International Ltd. He is a co-owner of Vigasolar Ltd, developer of solar powered digital projectors for wireless use of iPads in Africa and Asia. He is chair of the UK Online Foundation and HTI Education Trust, and is a trustee of the e-Learning Foundation, and Apps for Good. Jim Knight was the longest serving Schools minister in the UK government led by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown; he also served as Rural Affairs minister and Employment minister. He attended weekly Cabinet in the year running up to the 2010 General Election, and was made a Lord by the Queen after that election. Jim’s main policy interests are education, employment, skills and digital technology. Having co-ordinated Ed Balls’s Leadership Campaign he is now Shadow Defra minister in the House of Lords.
Martha Lane Fox is an English businesswoman, philanthropist, and public servant. She co-founded Europe’s largest travel and leisure website lastminute.com with Brent Hoberman in 1998. They took it public in 2000 and sold it in 2005. Martha was appointed a crossbench peer in the House of Lords in March 2013, becoming its youngest female member.
She is currently the UK’s Digital Champion and chair of Go On UK, a coalition of public and private sector partners that are helping millions more people and organisations online. Martha co-founded and chairs LuckyVoice, revolutionising the karaoke industry. She chairs MakieLab, Founders Forum for Good and the Government Digital Service Advisory Board. She is a Non-Executive Director at Marks & Spencer, MyDeco.com and the Women’s Prize for Fiction. In 2007 Martha founded her own charitable foundation Antigone.org.uk and also serves as a Patron of AbilityNet, Reprieve, Camfed and Just for Kids Law. In 2013 Martha was awarded a CBE.
Charlie Leadbeater is an independent and strategic adviser on innovation. The New York Times anointed Charlie’s idea, The Pro-Am Revolution, as one of the biggest global ideas of the last decade. His TED talks on innovation have been watched by hundreds of thousands of people. The Spectator Magazine described him as ‘the wizard of the web’ after publication of his book ‘We Think; mass innovation not mass production’ which charts the rise of more collaborative, open forms of innovation. It was an Amazon bestseller. Accenture, the global management consultancy, has ranked him one of the top management thinkers in the world, and the Financial Times ranked him the outstanding innovation expert in the UK.
Charlie was an adviser to the Downing Street Policy Unit and the Department of Trade and Industry on the internet and the knowledge driven economy, helping to shape government policy across a number of fronts. The vision statement he drafted for the Culture Online programme in 2001 predicted the web would become a platform for participation and collaboration. Charlie is a leading advisor to corporations on innovation and the impact of the web.
Catherine McCarthy is a BBC Commissioner and Executive Producer, with a background in developing innovative programming. She is passionate about using media to make a difference in people’s lives. Previously Head of the award-winning BBC Janala Project, she spent a year working in Dhaka, Bangladesh for BBC Media Action.
Catherine now works for BBC Media Action (the BBC’s International Development Charity) as a Senior Adviser, working on a wide range of international media projects. Her previous experience at the BBC has included co-commissioning some of the BBC’s major landmarks; BBC ONE series Frozen Planet, Life in the Undergrowth and LIFE. Catherine is a mentor for Documentary Campus, a global project to develop ideas and new talent in television and film-making. She is an Advisory Member of the European Broadcasting Union’s Education and Science group, and a Governor at the Evelina Hospital School in St. Thomas’s Hospital, London.
Geoff Mulgan is Chief Executive of Nesta. From 2004-2011 he was the first Chief Executive of the Young Foundation, which became a leading centre for social innovation, combining research, creation of new ventures and practical projects. Between 1997 and 2004 Geoff had various roles in the UK government including director of the Government's Strategy Unit and head of policy in the Prime Minister's office. Before that he was the founder and director of the think-tank Demos. He has also been Chief Adviser to Gordon Brown MP, a lecturer in telecommunications, an investment executive and a reporter on BBC TV and radio.
He is a visiting professor at LSE, UCL, Melbourne University and a regular lecturer at the China Executive Leadership Academy. He is an adviser to many governments around the world, and has been a board member of the Work Foundation, the Health Innovation Council, Political Quarterly and the Design Council, and chair of Involve. He is also currently chair of the Studio Schools Trust and the Social Innovation Exchange.
Annika Small (Chair) is a social entrepreneur who is passionate about how digital technology can be used imaginatively to tackle long-standing social problems. Prior to Nominet Trust, Annika established and led the Tony Blair Foundation’s global education programme which uses digital technology to bring together young people across conflict zones to learn directly with, from and about each other.
From 2001-2008, Annika launched and led Futurelab, a leading educational R&D organisation that has designed new tech-enabled models of learning and assessment which have informed educational policy around the world. Prior to this, Annika launched, grew and sold a number of media businesses, having started her career as a documentary producer. A Fellow of the RSA, a member of BAFTA and winner of several educational awards, Annika is committed to using the power of technology to mobilise positive social change.
Decongesting the internet, making it faster for all.
It is a fair bet that when Bram Cohen, a recent graduate of the University of Buffalo, sat down in April 2001 to write a clever piece of software to allow peer-to-peer distribution of large amounts of data, he had no idea what he was getting into. Cohen was just trying to solve a problem: how to overcome the bottleneck of bandwidth which meant it was often impossibly costly and time consuming to download a large file, like a video, along a single, congested telephone line from an overworked server.
A little over a decade later, around a quarter of a billion people a month use a version of Cohen’s creation: BitTorrent.
BitTorrent is controversial. Many in the entertainment, film and music industries regard it as a dark force, consuming their industries, by encouraging illegal downloading and file sharing.
BitTorrent points out that much of the internet, including Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and large archives of open source content, run on BitTorrent. If you find and download a free copy of Newton’s Pincipia, it arrives using BitTorrent. We have BitTorrent to thank for being able to access the 9,000 live recordings of the Grateful Dead. There are as many users of Bit Torrent as there are viewers of YouTube.
Whichever side of that argument you take, there is no doubting BitTorrent’s ingenuity to make a lot out of a little, and the importance of the principles it embodies. BitTorrent decongests a system that might otherwise quickly get clogged up.
BitTorrent achieves that by cleverly dividing up a large piece of content; sourcing the different bits from different places (rather than a single server) and then reassembling them in the right order as the torrent arrives with the client. The beauty of BitTorrent is that the more people there are downloading a film the easier it gets to download, because as the number of downloaders grows, so does the number of potential sources as the viewers also become distributors.
BitTorrent is a model for how to create collective swarms of content from many different sources. By making that possible it underpins much of the collaborative, peer-to-peer activity on which the web and social media thrives.
Image courtesy of BitTorrent
Introducing students to basic neuroscience and brain-computer interfaces.
It sounds like something from science fiction: a helicopter that can be controlled through nothing more than brain-power.
Puzzlebox Brainstorms has done just that. The organisation publishes open software and “how to” guides to allow students to hack remote-controlled helicopters so they can be controlled using NeuroSky or Emotiv EEG headsets.
Puzzlebox has created exercises and projects for students to learn more about neuroscience, the physics, chemistry and biology of the brain by controlling robots and toys using a brain computer interface. First students learn how to build a remote-controlled robotic vehicle and then they learn how to control it using concentrated brain power via an EEG headset. The Orbit, the brain-controlled helicopter, is available as a toy thanks to a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter which raised $750,000 from 434 funders.
Puzzlebox Brainstorms stands out because most digital learning programmes provide digital access to familiar courses. Puzzlebox finds an imaginative way to take students into entirely new realms.
Image courtesy of Puzzlebox
Allowing DIY fabrication of 50 industrial machines for a sustainable civilization.
Our planet appears increasingly incapable of keeping us in the manner to which the privileged minority has become accustomed. Our dominant modes of production and distribution still retain the imprint of the industrial age, and we know enough about rates of resource consumption and projected demand to justify a serious exploration of radically different ways of sustaining ourselves.
Artfully combining open source software, “closed-loop” manufacturing processes and off-grid energy generation, the Global Village Construction Set is a design catalogue of 50 industrial machines required to maintain “a small civilization with modern comforts”. Developed by an open community of enthusiasts with a small coordinating team at its heart, the catalogue includes a 3D printer, wind turbine, oven and a plethora of agricultural, construction and manufacturing tools.
While all of these designs are at prototype or initial design stages, they have had early successes, such as creating the world’s first open sources compressed earth brick press. Their prototype cost $1,500 compared to a standard commercial version for $25,000, and matched performance. It is natural to hope that we never need to rely on such a catalogue to rebuild civilisation from scratch, but this project – along with notable cousins, such as WikiHouse - WikiHouse – could well be an essential piece of R+D to ensure a sustainable future for humanity.
Image courtesy of Global Village Construction Set
Identifying women with anaemia in developing nations.
It should be a scandal. Each year 115,000 women and 600,000 babies die in childbirth due to anaemia. The disorder is barely an issue in the United States and the UK, where almost all pregnant women are routinely screened for anaemia. Yet in the developing world only about 50% of pregnant women are routinely screened and anaemia is regarded as an unavoidable fact of life, and often death. Most women never know that simple iron supplements, intravenous iron treatments, or in extreme cases blood transfusions could cure the condition and potentially save them.
The solution may yet lie in an exemplary piece of social innovation using digital technology created by a team of students at John Hopkins University in Baltimore. Anaemia is caused by low levels of haemoglobin, a protein containing iron which sits inside red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. The HemoGlobe turns a cell phone into a light, portable and low-cost haemoglobin monitor.
The team realised that to create a simple, low-cost way to detect anaemia they had to eliminate the need to draw blood, which would require a syringe, a trained nurse and a lab technician, working in controlled conditions. So they opted for an affordable form of pulse oximetry, a technique for reading haemoglobin levels by shining light through parts of the body.
Pulse oximetry, however, was useless without a way to analyse the data and display it in a form that would allow a health worker to take appropriate action. To do that the team loaded software onto a mobile phone to use its computing power to translate the haemoglobin readings into colour graphics – green for mild anaemia, yellow for moderate, red for severe.
Now rural health workers in Kenya, where HemoGlobe was conceived and launched, can carry a lightweight haemoglobin monitor which can transmit its data back to a central server to contribute to a national picture of the incidence of anaemia. The HemoGlobe offers to create a national anaemia screening programme at very low cost by piggybacking on the mobile phone network.
Image © Can Stock Photo Inc. / sommersby
Alerting residents to water supplies by SMS.
Water could be the scarcest resource of the next two decades as cities around the world grow, putting more strain on traditional sources. More than half a billion people around the world have access to treated, piped water only sporadically. They have water for only a few hours at a time once or twice a week. In Hubli-Dharwad, for example, in the south Indian state of Karnataka, over 1 million residents have access to treated municipal water once every 2–8 days. There is considerable variability in the schedule, making it difficult for residents to plan ahead and know when to be at home to collect water.
Usually residents have no way of knowing when the water will be available. Poor communication means that people sometimes have to wait for days and days for an alert, or worse, can miss the period when water is available completely. In water-scarce areas, women, and especially young girls, spend hours carrying water from remote standpipes to their homes. Water carrying is one reason girls are taken out of school early.
NextDrop, also known as the Smart Water Supply Message Service, was launched in September 2011 to provide residents with water alerts by SMS telling them in advance when water will be available so they can plan accordingly. To date, more than 25,000 households have signed up for the service, which is building relationships with utility providers, to enable them to offer customers a better service.
NextDrop was designed by a student social entrepreneur, Anu Sridharan, at UC-Berkley, working with colleagues in public policy and civil engineering. After the successful pilot in Karnataka, Sridharan is looking to scale the service across the country.
Image @ http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/
Using novel ultrasound techniques to improve healthcare anywhere with a phone signal.
In the early 1990s, radiologist Dr. Kristen DeStigter took a revolutionary medical technology to remote villages on the border between Kenya and Sudan: ultrasound. DeStigter had travelled there to research a parasitic disease but she soon found her magical ultrasound machine was being used to diagnose a wide variety of conditions, including life-threatening complications in pregnancy. She returned from that trip determined to find a way to develop a portable, low-cost ultrasound machine that could be used in the poorest communities in the world. The search took her almost two decades.
By the late 1990s, DeStigter had a portable ultrasound prototype which she took to Honduras after Hurricane Mitch as part of a medical outreach team. But though the machine itself was portable there was still a drawback. It needed a skilled technician to operate it and a specialist doctor to make sense of the results.
The breakthrough came in 2007 when DeStigter began working with Dr. Brian Garra, a specialist in digital signal processing who had been promoting a new technique called voluming scanning. Volume scans take many more images as the transducer is swept across a patient’s body. As a result volume scanners do not need a skilled operator: someone with basic training can generate a usable image.
Yet Garra and DeStigter still had an unresolved problem: how to get those images analysed by a specialist. The solution, they hope, will come from the mobile phone. By connecting the ultrasound to a mobile they believe they should be able to send the images to any one of a thousand specialists in the world to provide a diagnosis.
Imaging the World is the organisation DeStigter and Garra have created, to take this low-cost health technology to the world, using novel ultrasound techniques and the internet, to make the most sophisticated diagnostic techniques available to anywhere there is a phone signal.
The system is being trialled in Uganda, with plans to spread from there to the rest of sub-Saharan Africa and on to India and China.
Image @ http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/
One of the largest and most diverse digital library collections.
The idea of creating a national digital public library of the United States was first mooted in the 1990s when it must have seemed no more than a possibility. Since then, digital public repositories of books, images and historical records have grown in a patchwork, from those of the Library of Congress and the HathiTrust, to state and university libraries. To take just one example, the Kentucky Digital Library currently provides access to 18 Kentucky archives, with 800,000 pages of newspapers, 110,000 photographs, 22,000 pages of archival material, 800 oral histories and 4,700 maps.
The Digital Public Library of America, created in 2011 after an initiative orchestrated by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, brings together these different sources in a single platform, providing open access to one of the largest and most diverse digital cultural collections in the world. To date the DPLA has 2.4 million items online, with many more in the pipeline.
The Library is also encouraging a developer community to create apps to make the resources available in more engaging ways. An app called Culture Collage for example creates rivers of images from across the collection, while Stack Life allows people to create their own digital collections of the material.
The DPLA is breathing new life into libraries for the digital age, by creating an open, distributed network of comprehensive online resources to educate, inform, and empower everyone in current and future ¬generations. Just as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology provided the model for the open courseware movement, which has since been followed around the world, so the DPLA could provide a model for many other national library collections globally.
Logo courtesy of DLPA
Delivering easy-to-use, secure and robust mesh networking capabilities.
As the self-described “ad hoc wireless mesh network for the zombie apocalypse”, Byzantium is not your average internet service provider, and its creators aren’t your average programmers either. The group get together one weekend a month under the leadership of an individual known simply as The Doctor (they won’t give out their identity for fear that their employer will object to their involvement in the project) to design a homemade network that they could put online if an oppressive government ever tried to close down parts of the existing one. If this sounds like a bizarre non-eventuality to you, remember that many governments have already done this or do this: most recently the Egyptian government during recent and on-going Arab uprisings.
Project Byzantium is part of what is known as the “free network movement”. The movement is populated by academics and programmers who are concerned that the current global net is increasingly subject to undue control and surveillance by governments and corporations. There is also a more positive motivation underpinned by a view that the internet has not yet lived up to its “social” potential, and is instead succumbing to the marketing agendas of big corporations.
What Byzantium could do if successful, is provide an informal mesh network through connecting users to nearby computers which can pass along the signal to others; this approach could be shared as free community networks, widening access to low-income users as well. One part paranoia (potentially well founded), and one part utopian optimism makes Project Byzantium certainly one to watch.
Image @ http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/
Identifying and supporting under-represented high school students.
If education systems are designed to spot and then develop talent they do a miserably poor job. High rates of drop-out, failure and under performance, especially among students from poorer households and ethnic minorities, are testimony to the way school systems can fail those it should be lifting up. Research by Linda Darling-Hammond, Professor of Education at Stanford University, shows that in the US poorer students from minority backgrounds often fall behind because they are not exposed to more challenging and interesting opportunities to learn, and suffer from the low expectations of their teachers.
Reid Saaris saw the impact cycle of low expectations at first hand. While he was fast-tracked into advanced courses that would prepare him for college at Duke and Harvard, his best friend from a low-income background was put into lower-stream classes and spent the next decade-and-a-half making up for the lost opportunity.
When Saaris himself became a teacher he was determined to do better: in his first few years he increased the success rate of African-American students in advanced classes by 20%. Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS) aims to take some of the lessons Saaris learned to scale.
EOS uses sophisticated data mining techniques to identify students who would benefit from moving into advanced classes which are more interesting and challenging. That helps keep them motivated and improves their results, quite dramatically.
Research suggests that each year more than 600,000 low-income students in the US miss out on the opportunity to be placed in advanced classes that could provide the training they need to succeed at college. The EOS approach will enable an additional 6,000 students with potential to be identified and moved into advanced and International Baccalaureate classes each year.
EOS partners with school, district, county and state leaders around the country, identifying thousands of “missing students” and developing systems to ensure these capable students are enrolling and succeeding in the high school classes that will best prepare them to achieve their college goals. EOC works with a vast database of all students on AP and IB programmes to create ways to pinpoint high-potential students who are being overlooked.
Image © Can Stock Photo Inc./michaeljung
Democratising elite higher education by turning learning upside down
For almost all their life universities have been elite institutions, places of higher learning, inaccessible to ordinary people. Even in much of the developed world it was only in the 1960s and 1970s that access to a university education became commonplace. Less than 10% of the world’s population has a university degree.
Now, thanks to innovations like Coursera, students with a computer and an internet connection are able to study virtually any course they like, from one of scores of universities, at their own pace. What was once an elite pastime has been opened up to a mass market of many millions.
Coursera provides videos of lectures taught by world-class professors, as well as ways for students to reinforce their knowledge through interactive tests and join a wider community of learners. This makes peer review possible so students can give one another feedback and assess their work.
More than 70 universities are part of the Coursera consortium, and by late 2013 their 395 classes had attracted 9,500,000 enrolments from students in 195 countries. While much of the focus of school reform has been on learning in small classes and groups, Coursera has gone in the opposite direction: the most popular class has 180,000 students.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are not without their critics and challenges: only a minority of students complete a course, and the business model is unstable while the issue of accreditation is still a work-in-progress. These challenges are manifest for Coursera and its competitors such as edX edX: perhaps the non-institutional, employer-focussed approach taken by Open Badges Open Badges will prove instructive.
Nevertheless, Coursera believes part of its impact lies in introducing people to a much wider range of knowledge, which they might then pursue on their own terms. Courses range from algebra to plant biology, from algorithms to the ancient Greeks, from how to reason and argue to how to run a random controlled trial to test a drug. Online platforms like Coursera should allow teachers to adopt more imaginative approaches to learning, by blending online self-paced learning with more social, interactive and collaborative face-to-face classes.
Coursera is democratising elite higher education by turning learning upside down: classes could become places of discussion, while most of the instruction is delivered by computer.
Image © Can Stock Photo Inc. / michaeljung
Choosing to trust the knowledge of the crowd in China
National food safety in China became a prominent public policy concern when a scandal broke in 2008 due to melamine-tainted milk powder (over 500 times the accepted level) that killed six babies and made 300,000 more ill. Melamine is a toxic chemical used to make plastics, fertilizers and concrete. When found in food products at dangerous levels it causes kidney stones and kidney failure.
A long list of food crises has since occurred, including copper sulfate tainted eggs, cadmium-tainted rice, fake mutton which was actually rat meat, pesticide-contaminated ginger and recycled cooking oil. Combined with a vast number of fake forms of foods such as eggs, beef, tofu and honey, this has seriously dented consumer confidence among citizens in China.
That is where the Chinese Survival Guide comes in. It is a recent app developed to provide instant alerts and updates on food scandals, warnings and notices, and was downloaded by over 200,000 people within the first three days of its release in 2010.
The government has set in motion a five-year plan aimed at upgrading the country’s food safety regulations, but with government confidence not high in China people are choosing to trust the knowledge of the crowd instead.
Image @ http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/
Providing real-time support with mathematics learning.
A 2012 survey by the World Economic Forum did not make pleasant reading in South Africa: the country’s maths and science education was ranked bottom of 62 countries. The reasons for this poor performance are not hard to find: South African teachers, especially in township schools, will have received precious little training themselves, especially in more imaginative techniques and advanced topics.
Dr Math, a mobile-based learning service, aims to fill part of that gap by providing real-time support and assistance with mathematics homework and revision.
Using a popular SMS-based social network, Mxit, students at the University of Pretoria provide maths tutoring to school students across South Africa. The service has had over 28,000 registered users to date, mainly through word-of-mouth “advertising”.
Simple and cost effective, Dr Math uses an existing and familiar service, a social media platform based on SMS and a willing workforce of student volunteers to create an effective low-cost way for children to keep learning while they are out of school. As well as providing live text-based support, the site has a searchable archive of answers to common problems, from Fibonacci numbers to fractals and topics from prime numbers to Pascal's triangle.
Using drones to map ecological diversity in inaccessible areas.
Drones have fast become symbols of imperial power and aggression, forensically striking at targets while being remotely controlled from an air-conditioned command centre many thousands of miles away.
Yet military technologies have a long history of being adapted for civil purposes. US military researchers played a critical role in the early development of the internet. Even now the social potential of drones is starting to be explored. All over the world people are starting to hack and remake drones so they can be put to social good.
The machines being used by Conservation Drones (CD) to reduce the costs of ecological monitoring owe more to the long-established, resolutely unhip ‘maker movement’of radio-controlled planes than they do to sinister military hardware. The ‘How to build a drone’ section on the CD website exemplifies their open source ethos. The barriers to entry into the drone market are getting lower all the time. Hardware costs for a self-build drone are in the $100s; more upmarket versions cost just over $1,000 and there is plenty of software, support and advice freely available.
For CD’s sphere of activity, the argument for using drones is pretty unequivocal: mapping populations of, for example, orangutans in the jungles of Borneo has traditionally required a person with binoculars, a lot of trekking time and, therefore, money. Whilst an aerial survey will never be as exhaustive, the decreased cost and massively increased speed tip the balance in favour of using remotely controlled drones. The approach is combined with citizen science: CD has uploaded to YouTube videos of aerial passes made by its drones so volunteers can view them to spot orangutan nests.
Given the increasing accessibility and diversity of possible applications of drones (or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, UAVs, to give them their less portentous name), it is likely that CD will come to be viewed as a trailblazing organisation. It is perhaps unsurprising that the lead is being taken in the relatively uncontroversial field of conservation. No doubt along the way there will be moral panics about military technologies falling into the wrong hands. Drones could, in theory, be used by companies to monitor the productivity of a remote workforce or the police to keep check on motorists.
Image courtesy of Conservation Drones
Educating health workers via their mobile phones.
Healthcare for the 100 million people living in Bihar, one of the poorest states in India, depends on a guerrilla army of more than 200,000 community health workers, trekking from village to village. One of the main challenges is to train this dispersed workforce to keep them abreast of good practice. Community health workers are invariably keen to learn, dedicated to their jobs, and in Bihar many are willing to pay small sums out of their own pocket to improve their skills. Yet bringing them together for classes is expensive and impractical. Few have access to computers, televisions or radio for traditional distance-learning classes.
Mobile Academy is an ambitious attempt to overcome these problems using mobile phones. It creates a structured learning programme for tens of thousands of health workers to educate themselves about life-saving information on maternal and child health through a simple voice call from their mobile phones. If it is successful it could provide a new model for other health services that combines a distributed, local workforce of para-professionalswith access to constant on-the-job training to upgrade their skills.
In the first year of the programme, launched in May 2012, more than 27,000 community health workers signed up for the course, and 8,000 have completed all the modules, at a minimal cost of just over Rs.100.
The plan is to roll out the Mobile Academy in other northern Indian states such as Uttar Pradesh and Orissa. It was created by BBC Media Action, the development arm of the BBC, and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with the government of Bihar and Indian telecoms operators.
Image courtesy of Mobile Adacemy
Providing a clearer view into how aid is used.
The Open Aid Register is a small organisation with huge potential and promise. Its aim is to create a single, open database of international aid and development projects, to allow much easier comparison of how projects perform.
One of the biggest obstacles to judging the effectiveness of aid is that much of the data provided by government and NGOs is not comparable. OpenAid addresses that by automatically translating project data into IATI – the global standard for publishing aid data.
More accurate, comprehensive and comparable data will allow funders, providers and recipients of aid, not to mention the general public, to understand more clearly what is currently being funded, how effective it is and where aid should be going in future.
A cloud based geospatial database, CartoDB, is being used to create an easy-to-use, interactive map to show where aid is being spent within countries.
Open Aid Register is a New York Law School project funded by the Fulbright Commission and the Government of Spain. The entire system runs on open source tools.
Image © Can Stock Photo Inc. / zanzibar
Allowing patients to check their drugs are genuine.
Among the many problems that bedevil healthcare drug delivery systems in the developing world one is the spread of counterfeit drugs. The other is making sure that patients are adhering to the course of drugs prescribed, which is especially important for people with long-term conditions. Even when patients with HIV are given anti-retroviral drugs to contain the condition, they may not take them because of the stigma attached to living with HIV.
PharmaSecure, founded by Nathan Sigworth and N. Taylor Thompson in 2007, is a low-cost way to engage patients in tackling these problems using their mobile phones.
PharmaSecure’s system puts a unique identifier on a package of drugs, psID, which can then be scanned using an app on a mobile phone, psVerify, to check whether the drug is genuine. The identifiers have been put on 500 million packages so far. This low-cost system allows patients to check the drugs they are taking are genuine, and allows healthcare providers to check whether the patient is following the right course of treatment.
By identifying unique products with individual patients, the impact of the treatment can be tracked in longitudinal studies. PharmaSecure also runs a platform so that healthcare companies can offer tailored telemedicine services to patients using a particular product.
PharmaSecure is a simple, low-cost tool for more collaborative healthcare by giving patients more control to combat counterfeit drugs and helping healthcare providers check that patients are following the correct course of treatment.
Image courtesy of Pharmasecure
Creating high energy and non-toxic battery power.
Our technology is accelerating us towards an increasingly miniature, powerful and mobile future: and until recently, batteries have often been a necessity which has slowed us down. Earlier this year, however, researchers at UCLA announced they have developed a battery made from a revolutionary new material which could change everything.
Graphene, a single layer of carbon one atom thick, was first described in 1962 but only manufactured for the first time in 2004. Since then its remarkable properties – the "strongest material in the world", completely flexible, more conductive than copper – have presented scientists and engineers with an intoxicating range of possibilities.
In this case, the technique developed at UCLA offers the prospect of batteries which are inexpensive, non-toxic and incredibly efficient. They will mean you can charge your phone in five seconds, or a laptop in 30, while electric vehicles could run far longer than current vehicles and recharge in a fraction of the time. The graphene battery has the potential to power its very own wave of technical innovations.
Image courtesy of inquisitr.com
Offering English language learning to millions
Skilled English teachers might be in short supply in Bangladesh, but mobile phone handsets are plentiful: over 95% of the population has access to one of 95m handsets in circulation.
BBC Janala has turned the mobile phone into a low-cost educational tool, offering hundreds of three-minute English lessons and SMS quizzes to thousands of people each week.
By dialing 3000 from a mobile handset, almost anyone can learn English at their own pace: the mobile service tracks learners’ progress, allowing them to pick up where they left off in any spare moment. Lessons are structured around a progressive English syllabus, which lies at the heart of learning materials available in other ways too.
The mobile service is reinforced by an interactive website; television programmes; four lessons per week in leading Bangla newspaper, Prothom Alo; and hundreds of local learner meet-ups and English learning clubs. Bangladesh’s six mobile operators offer a greatly reduced tariff of 50 Paisa (£0.004) per minute for calls to the service.
The project is designed to help adults – 15–45 year olds – at the early stages of learning English. A particular focus is people living in the poorest rural areas of Bangladesh, with the aim to develop better language skills and so improve their chances to work and to take part in civic life. An extension into higher level English language, aimed at specific industry sectors, is in development.
BBC Janala is the largest, multiplatform innovation to improve basic English language skills anywhere in the developing world. It is part of English In Action, a programme supported by the UK Government that aims to improve the English skills of 25 million people in Bangladesh by 2017. The mobile learning platform it has created could be widely applied throughout the developing world in countries with high mobile penetration and struggling school systems.
Image © BBC Janala
Enlists volunteers to pursue scientific research.
The web is providing us with new ways to organise ourselves, to come together to share ideas and insights from professionals and avid amateurs. As the digital world generates ever more data, so these kinds of alliances will be increasingly important to allow us to cope. Zooniverse is a prime example of the kind of collaborative innovation we will need.
Zooniverse is the internet’s largest, most popular and successful citizen science platform, a place where professional scientists can enlist the help of hundreds of thousands of volunteers to pursue real scientific research.
The site has gathered a global army of citizen scientists to help with research: about 842,550 people are taking part worldwide. Three large scale projects have been completed and 15 are in progress. One project to map the surface of Mars involved 70,000 people classifying more than 3 million images.
The Zooniverse model – an alliance between amateur volunteers and professionals – creates benefits all round. By enlisting thousands of willing helpers, scientists engulfed by a flood of data get their research done more quickly. The enthusiastic volunteers also learn from being deeply engaged in real scientific research.
Image courtesy of Zooniverse
Making money more mobile.
M-Pesa is the world’s largest mobile payment system and the one that has inspired many others. It’s a case study of how digital technologies are allowing a new kind of frugal, bottom-up innovation, which then leads to the creation of successful businesses.
In the early 2000s researchers funded by the UK Department for International Development were documenting the burgeoning practice of people in Uganda, Botswana and Ghana to use excess mobile airtime as a proxy for money transfers. Local people would pass on unused airtime to friends or family, who would either use it or sell it on to others.
The researchers approached the largest mobile network operator in Africa, Safaricom, a subsidiary of Vodafone and together they developed the M-Pesa money transfer system.
The system allows users to deposit money into mobile-based accounts, send balance information through SMS to other users, and withdraw money – all without having a traditional bank account. M-Pesa, or “mobile money” in Swahili, has extended these basic financial capabilities to millions of people across Africa – 17 million accounts are currently registered in Kenya alone. By 2009, there, half of all households also reported that M-Pesa was one of their two most important savings instruments. It has allowed Kenya to create a bare-bones money-transfer and banking system without many banks or a high-end telecoms infastructure.
Its success has led Safaricom to launch M-Shwari (shwari being Swahili for “calm”) – a micro-savings and loan system for M-Pesa customers.
By the end of 2012, M-Shwari had been used to save $11.5 million, with $1.4 million given out in loans as small as 100 Kenyan shillings (around $1.50) M-Shwari. The M-Pesa model, which started with people swapping air time informally, has since been copied around the world, from Easypaisa in Pakistan to Pingit in the UK.
Image © Can Stock Photo Inc. / alistaircotton
Extending healthcare using simple mobile technology.
A good idea can have many iterations as it spreads and adapts to different contexts. That is how Medic Mobile grew from a service to connect hospitals to rural community health workers, into a platform that can be deployed to connect thousands of people in need of help in the wake of a natural disaster.
Medic Mobile started with humble beginnings in rural Malawi in the summer of 2007, with community health workers like Dickson Mtanga, a subsistence farmer, whose job it was to periodically walk 35 miles to gather and submit hand-written reports on 25 HIV-positive patients in his community.
Those reports were then sent by post to the main hospital in the region, which served 250,000 people in a 100-mile radius. The hospital relied on people like Dickson to be its front line. The system was costly, time consuming and ineffective: there was no way to alert the hospital to arrange timely treatment.
By using SMS technology and electronic records, health workers are now able to communicate, coordinate patient care, and provide diagnostics. The underlying FrontlineSMS FrontlineSMS technology, an inspiring social innovation in its own right, enables users to connect a range of mobile devices to a computer, to send and receive SMS text messages. The software works without an internet connection by connecting a device such as a cell phone or GSM modem with a local phone number.
By using simple mobile technology Medic Mobile is able to bridge huge gaps in healthcare delivery in the developing world; treating patients more effectively and enabling the health provider to extend services to people who would otherwise not have received care.
Image courtesy of Medic Mobile
Provides a way through the logjam created by copyright laws.
Innovation invariably comes from how ideas are shared and blended. Yet traditional copyright laws still restrict that kind of sharing because they prevent people from accessing, altering and distributing material online.
Creative Commons, created in 2001, was set up to provide a way through the logjam created by restrictive copyright laws: a simple-to-use licensing framework, supported by a technology platform, which allows people to assert their authorship of the material, yet share it securely online and gain attribution from those who use it. Creative Commons provides one of six licensing options of different strengths, which vary the extent to which consumers can alter and redistribute the content. One allows material to be donated to the public domain in perpetuity.
From ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning news organisation using Creative Commons when working with the world’s largest media companies, to the SoundCloud network of musicians and artists sharing and remaking music, to the acceleration of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement including MIT’s OpenCourseWare; the Creative Commons framework met a vast latent demand for alternative copyright frameworks worldwide, to allow digital content to be shared more freely, with more than 400 million works using one of the six Creative Commons licences.
Since its creation in 2001, Creative Commons has underpinned a vast flowering of open content, particularly in the domain of social change. Many others inspiring innovations – Mozilla Firefox, Code for America, Global Village Construction Set, the global Open Government movement – have used its legal structures to manage their open development processes.
Creative Commons is a prime example of how social and legal innovation is vital to allow people to exploit the full potential of digital technologies, to both create and share ideas and knowledge.
Image courtesy of Creative Commons
Improving elementary education and life skills of children across the world.
On 26 January 1999 Professor Sugata Mitra carved a “hole in the wall” that separated his office from the adjoining slum in Kalkaji, in New Delhi. Into the hole he put a computer that anyone wandering along the alley behind his office could use. He wanted to see how long it would take for slum children with no education or experience of using a computer to start using the machine. Within hours swarms of slum children were using the computer to play games and learn. Within days they had mastered the complete system.
That first Hole-in-the-Wall computer started what has become one of the most inspirational and intriguing experiments to see how far children can lead their own learning using the support of computers.
The first application was the installation of more than 30 public computers in the dusty Madangir Resettlement Colony on the edge of Delhi. The computers housed in heavy yellow steel cases have provided the local children with a vital resource to help them continue learning outside and after school.
Since then Mitra’s team has worked in scores of settings, in schools and communities, both urban and rural, testing different approaches to see how well children learn with one another with minimal support and supervision from teachers. With the help of a $1m TED Prize, awarded in 2013, Mitra is planning to develop a “school in the cloud” platform to support self-organised learning among children using computers.
Mitra argues his experiments show that children can learn far more than expected when they are left to their own devices, with interesting challenges set by computer-based learning programmes. Self-organised, computer-based learning is more motivating, he argues, than traditional rote learning, which can leave many children bored and demoralised. As a result self-organised learning could help reduce drop-out rates. But in addition, self-organised learning using computers, in which children help one another to learn, should particularly help children in the poorest areas in India that find it hard to attract teachers.
Image © Hole-in-the-wall Education Limited.
Global currency without banking.
A paper posted online in November 2008 by a blogger known as Satoshi Nakamoto, outlining the protocols for a peer-to-peer currency and payment system that would operate without banks, including a central bank to control the money supply, would have barely attracted a passing glance in most financial centres in the world. Banks had other things on their minds: the world’s financial system was on the verge of meltdown following the collapse of Lehman Brothers bank. Moreover, the approach Nakamoto suggested must have seemed like a recipe for chaos: a currency which anyone could issue and in which transactions did not go through bank accounts or formal payment systems.
Yet that paper spawned one of the most controversial and potentially disruptive financial innovations of the last few years, Bitcoin.
The Bitcoin system, based on open source filesharing, automatically creates a ledger of all transactions and how one transaction leads to another. Each transaction is, in effect, a transfer of a bit of data, protected by a military-grade piece of cryptography. The new owner of the encrypted data – a digital version of a bank note with a water mark – can see its entire history, where it originated and how it changed hands, and then use it to buy something else. It is as if when you took a £10 note out of an ATM machine it came with a complete history of all the other transactions in which it has ever been used as testimony to its value and trustworthiness. Bitcoins can be exchanged for goods and services: one of the first transactions was to buy a pizza.
In the wake of the financial crash and the ensuing deep recession, Bitcoin became hugely popular as an alternative to mainstream money. The system is widely used all over the world, by non-profits and local businesses to trade with one another without using formal money and going through a bank. As of March 2013 there were more than 10.5 million bitcoins in circulation.
Bitcoin has its fair share of critics and doubters who argue it is prone to bubbles and open to fraud, both too volatile and too inflexible. The financial services regulators want parallel currencies to be properly supervised and many doubt whether it can be legal tender.Yet for all the doubts, Bitcoin has done something remarkable. It is prompting people to rethink what money is, where it comes from and why we need banks to organise it, especially when they make large sums of money in the process.
Seen in the light of the financial crisis, a self-regulating peer-to-peer system to create money is perhaps not as mad as it seems. Bitcoin generates trust by connecting traders peer to peer, through encrypted protocols and by providing a complete history of each trading unit. Just as Napster and Kazaa opened the way for the disruption of the recording industry, so in time Bitcoin might be seen as the innovation which opened up new approaches to money and banking.
Image courtesy of Bitcoin
Helps farmers in India to farm more effectively.
Most of India still lives in villages where people make meagre livings from the land. Most of those farmers are illiterate and few have been trained in the most basic techniques to improve the productivity of their farms. As a result their incomes are low, variable and vulnerable.
Digital Green has come up with an innovative, low-cost solution to enable farmers to learn from one another how to farm more effectively. A small team of locally trained staff make videos with farmers who have a proven track record for producing more rice or higher quality milk, using techniques they have learned from agricultural training programmes. The teams then convene classes in other villages and show the videos with the help of a small, battery-operated projector and with a facilitator pausing and rewinding the tape as necessary to allow for more discussion and explanation.
The 2,600 videos made to date, all starring farmers, have been seen by 160,000 villagers in more than 2,400 villages in some of the poorest parts of India: Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. Videos are ranked by the number of times they have been viewed and how many times the practice has been adopted: the top-rating video on sowing seeds has been seen 75,000 times and put into practice by 6,500 farmers.
Digital Green argues its mix of peer learning – lessons from farmers, for farmers – relayed by video, with the help of a facilitator to provoke local discussion, is 10 times more effective than traditional agricultural extension programmes which rely on teachers instructing a class. One evaluation shows that a farmer who has implemented a Digital Green practice increases their income by an average of $243 over an eight-month period, about 20%. Digital Green’s methods are now being taken up in Ghana and Ethiopia.
Blended learning, mixing digital materials with face-to-face, collaborative learning, is all the rage in some of the most sophisticated schools in the world, but it also works well for farmers in rural India. Digital Green is an inspiring example of how the lay knowledge of farmers, combined with the insights of professionals, can create new and more effective ways for people to learn and earn at the same time.
Image courtesy of Digital Green
Providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.
A free world-class education for anyone anywhere. It sounds utopian. Sal Khan is determined to make it a reality. The Khan Academy provides an extensive and growing library of around 4,500 short educational videos, stored on YouTube, principally covering maths and science but also history and civics. The Academy has delivered an estimated 260m 10-minute video-lessons to about 1.25m subscribers.
Khan’s courses are self-paced but also structured: with metrics, feedback, reward, assessment systems and “badges” to encourage users onto more advanced material. The badges range from the Meteorites, which are the easiest to earn, to the very rare Black Holes, which are extremely difficult.
Each time someone learns on Khan Academy, the site remembers what they have done. Those stats are available to the learners but also to their coaches and teachers, providing all of them with vital feedback to guide and encourage their learning. It also shows which courses are the most compelling.
The Khan Academy is spreading around the world, partly thanks to the likes of mobile phone billionaire Carlos Slim, who made a large donation to boost its Spanish language content, and thousands of volunteers who helped make the content available in a wide range of languages from Indonesian to German, Turkish to Xhosa.
The Academy began when Khan started tutoring one of his cousins interactively using Yahoo’s Doodle images. As more cousins asked to take part, Khan moved to making YouTube video tutorials in which a voice narrates a topic as it is also explained with simple drawings and illustrations.
Khan believes his Academy points to a possible future in which learning is both shared and social, low cost and accessible, and yet also intelligently personalised, as software creates assignments and tests suited to the stage which learners have reached and the way they learn.
Image courtesy of Khan Academy
Providing a low cost healthcare system to Mexicans, using mobile phones.
Pedro Yrigoyen wears his hair long, his shirts open necked and his jeans slightly faded. He does not look like a medical revolutionary, for a good reason: his background is in telemarketing.
Yet Yrigoyen is the focal point for what could yet prove a revolution in basic health care. The epicentre is a drab office block in a busy inner suburb of Mexico City, where a team of 20 medics, dressed in starched white coats, sit in cubicles waiting to answer phones. The medics are supported by computer systems loaded with protocols for diagnosing conditions, which have been pooled from some of the best hospitals in the world. This little call centre is the heart of a system, MedicallHome, which provides a bare bones primary healthcare system for about 5 million Mexicans for just $5 a month, which is paid through their mobile phone bill.
Mexico spends about 6.5% of its GDP on healthcare, well below the average for most rich countries. Access to doctors and nurses is limited, especially in poorer and rural areas. Government services are nominally free. Yet because these services are thinly spread, the cost of accessing them is very high, especially for people in rural areas who have to travel a long way to see a doctor, only to find they have to join a long queue.
MedicallHome has grown in the space created by the public sector’s failings as a way to connect people to low-cost, private health care. Two thirds of the issues that callers raise with MedicallHome are resolved over the phone, which means patients do not have to visit a doctor at a cost of at least $30 and a missed day’s work. If the doctor on the call does recommend the patient visit a doctor, have a blood test or take a treatment, then MedicallHome connects them to one of its network of 6,000 accredited doctors or 3,000 healthcare providers, in 233 cities. As Medicall refers patients in large numbers it negotiates a discount for them ranging from 5% to 50%.
Yrigoyen’s next step will be to turn MedicallHome into a marketplace accessible to people with smartphones, which will allow them to choose from and connect directly to healthcare providers. As mobile networks spread across Latin America so will MedicallHome’s solution, initially to Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
Image @ http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/
Providing a low cost and accessible HIV testing solution.
The CD4 test is the workhorse of the diagnosis and treatment of HIV. The level of CD4 in blood acts as a barometer for the state of the immune system and so the progression of HIV. By monitoring the condition twice a year a medical practitioner can start the right treatment at the right time with anti-retroviral drugs that often extend life expectancy and reduce transmission of the disease. The test is central to efforts to combat the HIV/Aids pandemic.
However, there are several limiting issues with traditional tests that reduce their full effectiveness in the most needy patient sectors. Traditional testing involves the patient’s blood sample being transported to a central laboratory where specialist equipment (a flow cytometer) is used to run the test. This process is not only expensive and requires trained technicians but is time consuming. By the time the results get back to the clinic, the patient often cannot be traced for follow-up or treatment.
It took six years for a team from the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, Australia, working with colleagues at Rush University in Chicago and Duke University in North Carolina to develop a test that offers a result within 40 minutes without the need for instrumentation and at a significantly lower cost. Just a finger prick of blood can be run on the device by health workers in the field, in a similar way to current malaria and HIV tests.
From there, the CD4 mHealth smartphone app uses an everyday phone camera to read test results in the field and offers integration to cloud databases. This adds the ability to capture results and demographics from a smartphone, providing a variety of configurable real-time reporting and data workflows. The point-of-care test provides results there and then to then guide appropriate treatment schedules before the patient leaves the clinic.
According to UNITAID, there are over 15 million people in resource-poor areas in developing countries who simply do not have access to ART because they cannot get access to an affordable CD4 test in their communities. The team at the Burnet believes their ultra-simple, low-cost CD4 test could be used to deliver more than 30 million tests a year where the traditional testing regime is inaccessible. The test has now been licensed to Omega Diagnostics in the UK to facilitate the industrial-scale manufacture, distribution and quality assurance needed to support broad uptake of this life-saving innovation.
Image © Can Stock Photo Inc. / Eraxion
Creates mobile phone systems to strengthen rural economies in India.
Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of village self-rule in India, in which production would be by the masses, not for the masses, may yet be realised by the mobile phone. At least that is the ambition of Ekgaon, a Delhi-based social venture, which is creating mobile phone systems to strengthen village economies.
Despite rapid urbanisation, most of India’s population still lives in more than 600,000 villages that are little more than hamlets. People in these villages survive as subsistence farmers. Remittances from husbands, fathers and sons who have gone to work in the city provide many families with a vital lifeline.
Life in these villages is hard for any number of reasons: they often lack basic infrastructures for water, electricity and sanitation; incomes will be low and variable; goods and services will be costly and poor quality, often only available from a single, monopoly supplier; illiteracy will be rife. The billions of consumers like these at the “bottom of the pyramid” often pay a high premium to get basic services which are often of poorer quality than their urban equivalents.
Ekgaon, which means One Village in Hindi, set out in 2001 to change that using the mobile phone as its main tool. One of its first products was a simple bar code reader so village consumers could compare the price they were being charged with prices elsewhere. Ekgaon’s most important innovation is a low-cost information management system for village-based micro-credit and savings schemes, which is hosted entirely in the cloud and which uses mobile phones for data entry. Ekgaon estimates this shared, digital solution allows micro-credit to be offered at a much lower price than traditional, paper-based systems which dominate in villages. The system is serving more than 800,000 villagers in some of the poorest parts of the country.
Ekgaon is also linking villagers to the richer urban economies on which they depend. Ekgaon’s killer app might prove to be One Remit, launched in 2013, to allow family members in the city to send money home using their mobile phone and to deposit it straight into the family account.
Ekgaon’s simple, robust infrastructure for managing savings and remittances, based on the mobile phone, could be applied to villages across the world where people face the same, daily challenges to make their modest incomes go a long way.
Image courtesy of Ekgaon
Programming interactive stories, games and animations.
Scratch is like Lego for software: a simple-to-use set of tools that allows children to make a wide range of interactive stories, games and animations. Using Scratch they become makers of digital content, not just consumers.
Like Lego bricks, Scratch programming tools are also ubiquitous: the website gets close to 10 million page views per month. As of 2 January 2013 Scratch had 1,349,093 registered members (about 402,697 of whom have shared projects), and an archive of more than 3 million (more than one project gets uploaded every minute).
Scratch is an open source platform that enables children to swiftly learn the basics of computer programming, so they can feel confident in using the digital tools that they rely upon.
Scratch is available in 150 countries, in 40 different languages from Bulgarian to Vietnamese, with a string of modifications to the core program available thanks to work done by a core group of volunteer developers.
Scratch does not just teach children some of the basic concepts involved in computer programming, such as iterations and conditions. It also teaches concepts from mathematics, such as variables and coordinates, as well being a vehicle for the 21st century skills of creativity, collaboration, problem solving and entrepreneurship. Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab.
Image courtesy of Scratch
Creating personally appropriate learning programmes.
Feedback is at the heart of great teaching and learning. As teachers gather feedback on how students are learning, they should be able to adapt how they teach, setting more testing challenges for the more advanced and demanding students, helping those who are struggling to find ways around the obstacles that stand in their way. One reason that teaching is so variable is that this kind of feedback and adaptation is so haphazard. As a result students find themselves being taught in ways they find uninspiring.
Knewton’s mission is to equip providers of learning software and applications with all the tools they need to adapt and personalise their offers. Knewton’s software generates a constant flow of data about how students learn using computers. By analysing and comparing the data from many thousands of students Knewton can then recommend how applications adapt themselves, in real-time, to create a more personally appropriate learning programme.
In 2011, Knewton announced a partnership with Pearson Education to enhance the company's digital content, including the MyLab and Mastering series. It’s used by students in 190 countries.
Tools like Knewton’s offer the possibility of creating both highly digital but highly personalised and adaptive forms of learning, which respond to how students learn, moving at a pace and in a style which suits but also stretches them.
Image courtesy of Knewton
Connecting teachers and learners via an eLearning platform.
Pakistan’s population is young and growing, energetic and agile. Two-thirds of the population are yet to reach 30. Their ranks will swell with about 85m more youngsters in the next 20 years.
This wave of young people brings a human bounty to a country lacking in natural resources. Yet as things stand, almost half the children eligible – nearly 7 million – do not attend primary school. Seven in 10 drop out before they reach secondary school, most likely because they have had to endure such an unrewarding experience, packed together in rows in stuffy classrooms, learning by rote from a blackboard, with teachers who are poorly trained, demotivated and frequently absent.
Pakistan’s poorest regions are tough places to work – it is hard to find skilled teachers willing to work in such harsh conditions. As a result, even when children do make it to school their teachers often have little training in making complex and difficult subjects interesting and exciting.
TeleTaleem aims to change all that with a distance learning programme designed to link rural schools to teachers in urban centres. TeleTaleem operates a small fleet of vans equipped with satellite communications which link them to a studio in the capital, Islamabad, where a specialist teacher conducts a class. Each of the students in the class is equipped with a basic tablet computer loaded with TeleTaleem’s software. Students use the tablets to complete test questions as a lesson is in progress. The results of the tests can be communicated back to the teacher in Islamabad to be analysed. Students and teacher interact using a collaborative, online work space, in which the teacher in Islamabad can watch and correct the work of a student in the tribal areas near Afghanistan.
In 2012, TeleTaleem secured a $1.1m investment from the Asian Development Bank to expand its operation to 500 centres, reaching at least 10,000 teachers and 100,000 students within five years.
Radical innovations are often bred in extreme conditions. Pakistan is already one of the most advanced places in the world for mobile phone based banking services. There is no reason why, in response to the immense challenges of teaching in the poorest parts of the country, it could not also become one of the most innovative places for mobile learning.
Image @ http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/
Giving access to cutting-edge DNA sequencing technology.
All of us walk around with trillions of microbes as companions. The miniscule organisms that live on and inside our bodies, collectively known as the microbiome, are essential to our survival. Like a dense rainforest, the microbiome should form a balanced eco-system that helps to keep potential pathogens in check and regulates our immune system. Microbes perform essential services for us, helping us to digest food and synthesise vitamins.
Not surprisingly, when the microbiome is disturbed or disordered, it can be associated with a range of conditions from asthma to diabetes, autism to depression, irritable bowel and chronic sinusitis and a wide variety of allergies. Until now it has been impossible for anyone to understand and manage this eco-system of microbes. uBiome is an attempt to do just that.
uBiome aims to give the public access to cutting-edge DNA sequencing technology which analyses the make-up of the microbiome and shows how it compares to other samples.
Once someone has swabbed their microbiome and sent their sample off for analysis they are guided through an online survey about the their health, lifestyle, demographics, social connections, and more. uBiome sequences the samples and correlates the survey responses to compare different samples and unpick the links between lifestyle, demography, genetics and conditions linked to the microbiome.
It’s early days. uBiome started shipping test kits only recently. However, there are signs of strong potential demand: 2,500 people between them pledged $350,000 to get the venture up and running, the world’s largest successful crowdfunding campaign for citizen science.
uBiome aims to create a huge, citizen-generated pool of data about the human microbiome, which should allow individuals to answer questions about their own health as researchers gain insights into the population as a whole.
Image courtesy of uBiome
CliniPAK is a clinic in a box, ideal for use in remote and poor areas.
Healthcare systems are synonymous with doctors and hospitals, wards and beds. Yet traditional solutions such as these, which rely on expensive professionals and heavy-duty infrastructure, are well beyond the reach of people in most of the poorest parts of the world.
Sick people living in villages in remote rural areas in Kenya, for example, are lucky to see a nurse, let alone a doctor in a clinic. A typical village will rely on a community health worker and local, informal healers, with limited expertise.
The Clinical Patient Administration Kit (CliniPAK), which is trialling in the Trans Mara District in Kenya, aims to ameliorate those inequalities with a portable, robust, self-contained “clinic in a box” that is powered by a solar panel.
Inside a CliniPAK are rugged touch-screen laptops loaded with healthcare software which helps a community health worker to diagnose a patient’s symptoms and recommends possible courses of treatment.
The laptop is also equipped with a reporting module which stores patient records and can send disease data to a central source, so it can be aggregated. So much paperwork can be involved in making an infectious disease report that clinics sometimes have to allow nurses to do administrative tasks. The CliniPAK is designed to do this automatically.
The system also logs a patient’s cell phone so they can be alerted automatically to the need for further treatment and check-ups.
Generating power from footsteps.
Energy is one of the defining challenges of our age. The pressures of population growth and increasing consumption per capita, demand that we develop a wide range of different approaches to energy generation and efficient consumption. PaveGen is an elegant example of such an approach: a paving slab which converts the energy from people’s footsteps into electrical power.
At four years old the technology is still in its infancy, but trials are demonstrating its potential. A set of slabs installed at West Ham tube station in preparation for the 2012 Olympics registered over a million footsteps, each step producing enough power to light an LED-powered street-lamp for 30 seconds. It has also been successfully installed in a number of London offices and schools, and harvested energy from the runners in this year’s Paris Marathon.
The slabs could also be a valuable component in a "Smart City" approach to managing urban environments. In addition to being used for autonomously powered lighting, which lights only when people are nearby, they can also be used as a data source. Each slab is able to record footfall data then use its own power to transmit this wirelessly via a dedicated API, providing valuable real-time information about how and when people move around transport hubs, workplaces, shopping areas or sporting venues.
Image courtesy of PaveGen
Helping children all over the world to learn computer programming.
Will Goldie, a Boy Scout in California, is raising money to equip a computer lab for girls in Afghanistan, the centrepiece of which will be a remarkable credit card sized computer – this promises to become the workhorse of basic computer science courses the world over.
That computer, the Raspberry Pi, is the brainchild of a group of computer scientists at Cambridge University who were alarmed by the decline in the numbers and skills levels of the A Level students applying to read Computer Science. From a situation in the 1990s where most of the kids applying were coming to interview as experienced hobbyist programmers, using basic machines such as the BBC Micro, Spectrum ZX and Commodore 64, the landscape in the 2000s was very different; a typical applicant might only have done a little web design.
As computing had become more ubiquitous, commercialised and consumer friendly, so the opportunity for young people to make their own computer programs had evaporated. The group decided part of the solution might be to create a latter-day version of one of the basic machines they themselves first learned to program on.
They started playing around with cheap processors designed for mobile devices and formed the Raspberry Pi Foundation to make it a reality. After about five years of tinkering, the group came up with a design for a basic, reprogrammable computer costing just £30, which runs on open source software and is made under licence by a range of electronics manufacturers around the world. The Foundation encourages other companies to clone its machine.
Since its launch in 2012, more than 1.2 million Raspberry Pis have been sold to schools and students, but also to hobbyists making robots and parents with disabled children wanting to make their own monitoring devices, as well as museums and hospitals.
Raspberry Pi is many innovations in one. Not only is it opening up basic programming to new generations as well as providing an ultra low cost computer in the developing world, it’s also proof that often the best ideas come from looking backwards, to recuperate ideas that have been discarded.
Image © Raspberry Pi Foundation
Gathers sensitive information at scale and protects its sources.
WikiLeaks is not everyone’s cup of tea. That’s partly thanks to the controversy surrounding Julian Assange, its founder, currently holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The controversy over Assange’s behaviour has been an unfortunate diversion from the way that WikiLeaks at its best created a new model to combine investigative journalism and whistle blowing for the digital age, in the name of transparency, free speech and better government.
In days gone by, a leak to a journalist might be a single photocopied document in a plain brown envelope. Thanks in part to WikiLeaks it is now more likely to be millions of emails on a USB stick.
WikiLeaks gathers so much information at such scale because it protects the anonymity of its sources using a high-security electronic drop box into which they can submit material. Then a small team of journalists deploys traditional investigative techniques to check the material’s veracity by cross checking sources. As well as providing a journalistic commentary, WikiLeaks specialises in making the original source material available in full. Its decision to do so, including not redacting names of informants from confidential documents, is widely criticised for putting people’s lives at risk. It is defended and supported by a network of volunteers, including prominent lawyers.
This model has delivered a torrent of embarrassing and controversial information that would otherwise be kept hidden, allowing us a clearer insight into the inner workings of those in power, from the 2 million emails sent between members of the Syrian elite, involving their dealings with Western companies, to the 5 million emails leaked from the global intelligence contractor Stratfor.
WikiLeaks, however, is not just about the cloak and dagger world of spying and surveillance. One of its most successful leaks was the mundane 10,000-page secret contract between the German Federal government and the Toll Collection Consortium which collects tolls from heavy vehicles.
It has also inspired others to emulate their approach: BalkanLeaks and RuLeaks are both currently active communities, bolstered by the profile WikiLeaks has achieved.
Image © Can Stock Photo Inc. / alexskopje
Making legislation publicly available to all.
“I wish that the superfluous and tedious statutes were brought into one sum together, and made more plain and short.”
Edward VI (1537–1553)
Edward’s wish may finally have been granted, thanks to the internet and some outstanding government intrapreneurship.
Legislation.gov.uk is a kind of Magna Carta for the digital age, a compendium of all legislation published by the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments, over the past 1,000 years, updated daily, so citizens can see in one place all the laws they live under.
The site was created by staff at the National Archives, part of the Ministry of Justice. It may sound dull but it’s incredibly popular, attracting more than 2 million unique visitors a month. As well as providing a complete history of legislation, the site also provides a daily update of how government rules, often through statutory orders and instruments issued by civil servants.
On 15 August 2013, for example, in the middle of 10 statutory orders relating to road works on major roads and motorways, there was an order restricting exports to Syria. On 9 August, alongside important amendments to the National Minimum Wage, there was an order which seemed to have come straight from the Middle Ages, conferring on the Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority rights to run several oyster fisheries for a period of 10 years.The UK’s lack of a written constitution makes it a somewhat conspicuous absence from Constitute, another of our NT100. Legislation.gov.uk hence assumes an added significance for Britain’s civic digital profile. It is a prime example of how government can lead the way in making itself more transparent, open and accountable, helping citizens to understand how they are governed and what their rights are.
Image courtesy of legislation.gov.uk
The organisation behind the open source mapping platform that shares its name.
Ushahidi has become one of the most potent global sources of social innovations using digital technology. A string of inspiring digital social innovations have come out of the Ushahidi hot house.
“Ushahidi” means “testimony” in Swahili. For many, however, the word principally refers to a non-profit tech company specialising in open source software, and the eponymous crowdmapping platform which founded its reputation (see Crisis Mapping) The organisation grew out of efforts to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election fallout at the beginning of 2008. By aggregating texts, tweets, photos and descriptions from mobile phones, smartphones and desktops, Ushahidi created crowdsourced maps that made incidents of violence, election fraud and abuse plainly visible on a broad scale. The website had 45,000 users in Kenya.
Since then, Ushahidi has developed a full-featured, open source mapping platform which, along with Crowdmap, their Software as a Service (SaaS) version of the system, has been used in crises across the world supporting 35,000 maps in 30 different languages. For example, following the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 and the tsumani in Japan in 2011, the Ushahidi platform was used to organise emergency responses in real time. In less than an hour after the 2011 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the Ushahidi platform was used to spotlight areas of refuge. And most recently, Ushahidi has provided the platform for crowdmapping violence in Syria’s civil war.
On the back of such success, the organisation is demonstrating a determination to continue innovating: their latest venture, BRCK, is an eloquent response to the challenges of using network technologies in infrastructure-poor environments. Dubbed “your back-up generator for the internet”, BRCK is a router with an eight-hour battery life, physically robust enough to withstand outdoor use, which can automatically switch between different connection sources.
As well as the multifarious benefits of enabling more people to connect more reliably to the web, the BRCK team is building a cloud-based software back-end which opens up another world of possibilities. BRCKs are also designed to be used as data harvesters, connectable to a wide variety of sensors as part of the emerging “internet of things”. This presents the potential for increasing our understanding of, and ability to respond to, a vast range of social, economic and environmental issues in areas currently too remote to be easily monitored.
Image courtesy of Ushahidi
Bringing affordable drinking water to 'last mile' communities.
For the first time in modern history society’s thirst for fresh water, driven by population growth and agriculture, is set to outstrip supply using current technologies. Water shortages could hold back growth and development, provoking growing inequalities and tensions. Attempts to overcome those shortages using the traditional infrastructures of bigger dams or even diverting the course of rivers threatens only greater environmental damage. Pumping water from aquifers deep underground will be hugely costly because of the energy required. One of the biggest innovation challenges of the century to come will be the reinvention of our relationship with our most basic, life-enhancing resource: water.
Sarvajal is just one example of how digital technology is encouraging new, more sustainable solutions.
Launched in 2008 by the visionary Piramal Foundation, Sarvajal has built on the lessons of an earlier entrant into the market, Naandi, to develop a market-based model for supplying drinking water to communities in India, often remote, rural villages which are not on the mains water system. The Sarvajal solution ingeniously combines highly sophisticated hardware and software with a franchise model designed to give local entrepreneurs the ability to create a sustainable business and offer an affordable service.
Sarvajal has provided more than 150 franchisees with training, filtration equipment and maintenance services. All the equipment is managed and monitored via a cloud-based system, a bit like ATMs but for water – AWMs. The Sarvajal purification plant can be installed inside a shop or someone’s house. Users can either pay in cash or using a pre-paid card of the kind used with mobile phones. The AWM provides 24-hour access to water at a cost of around $3 per month per houshold. With Franchisees retaining 60% of the profits, they are typically able to employ two to three people: Sarvajal estimates their franchises have created around 400 new jobs so far.
For the team, this is just the beginning. They are operating in just six of India’s 28 states so far and expect to spread further in the years to come, providing a network of clean, sustainable and affordable water sources.
Image @ http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/
A mobile phone attachment that can measure your optical prescription.
Over half a billion people around the world need glasses but don’t have them. Blurry vision is not just an inconvenience: it translates into lack of effective education, low literacy, limited employment and near certain poverty.
NETRA is a clever and cheap way to address one vital part of this problem: making available cheap eye tests using an easily adapted mobile phone.
Developed by MIT Media Lab, NETRA, which means ‘eye’ in Sanskrit, is a clip-on eye piece that can be attached to the top of a mobile phone and connected to the phone’s LCD display.
Looking into the eye piece, the user has to use the keys on their phone to align a series of dots on the screen of their mobile phone, until they appear to all overlap each other. This process is captured by an app in the phone which then calculates the extent to which the person’s retina is out of alignment. That calculation can then provide a prescription for glasses.
NETRA, which costs as little as $2, is a brilliant example of frugal innovation using digital technology. No trained professional is needed, nor a visit to an eye clinic: the phone’s owner becomes an amateur optician. Whereas traditional diagnostic kits are heavy and cumbersome, the NETRA is portable and robust, and because it clips on and off it can be used on multiple phones.
The transformation of a standard phone into a digital eyesight tester has been made possible because standard LCD displays now have high enough resolution to allow us to watch our favourite films and YouTube clips in marvellous high definition. The term ‘retina display’ often invoked to sell these screens comes from the fact that they are judged strong enough to be used for retina analysis. So by pursuing higher definition screens to make entertainment available to a mass mobile market the phone companies inadvertently also created the possibility of a new kind of eyesight test.
NETRA is now used in many countries around the world in collaboration with eye clinics and NGOs. It’s a great early example of using mobile technology as a scientific instrument, not just as a communication or computing device, part of a growing area of hardware-based mobile apps that are leveraging existing digital technologies to support social inclusion and reduce disability and poverty. NETRA’s creator Ramesh Raskar likes to point out more people have mobile phones than toothbrushes.
Image courtesy of NETRA
Makes building hardware devices open and accessible to all.
Artists, designers and hobbyists have all benefited from simple software tools from Photoshop to SketchUp and GarageBand, to allow them to create designs and artworks more easily. Arduino aims to do the same thing but for hardware. Through Arduino and its imitators many more people could start making their own electronic devices, just as they might now put up their own shelves.
Arduino is an open source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software, and designed to make the process of using electronics in multidisciplinary projects more accessible. It brings electronics within easy reach of the do-it-yourself movement and opens it up to non specialists.
In the hands of an artist in the developed world, an Arduino kit might become a new interactive installation. In the hands of a community environmental activist in the developing world it might mean a sensor to monitor levels of pollution and waste. Arduino could be widely used in schools to allow children to learn to build their own electronic devices, spreading electronics skills to a much wider population.
The core to an Arduino is a simple but robust circuit board which costs half that of traditional boards. An Arduino board can sense its environment by receiving input from a variety of sensors and can affect its surroundings by controlling lights, motors and other actuators. The microcontroller on the board is programmed using the open source Arduino programming language and development tools. Arduino hardware can be freestanding or controlled by a computer. Arduino makes all its designs available open source so the developer community can share better designs and prototypes.
Arduino could do for hardware what open source has already done for software: provide a low-cost way for millions of people to create and share a wide range of novel designs and applications.
Image courtesy of Arduino
Speeds up formal, scientific communication and allows scientists to use more informal channels.
Many of the most inspiring examples of how the web can be used to share, spread and generate knowledge come from science. Few are more inspiring than the Public Library of Science (PLOS), which began life in 2000 with a plea from a group of leading US medical researchers for commercial publishers to make freely available all scholarly research.
That plea might have remained a utopia dream had they not decided to take matters into their own hands in 2003 by turning PLOS into a publisher of peer reviewed, high quality and high impact science journals, to compete with the likes of Science and Nature. What followed was rapid and sustained innovation in which large and active scientific communities coalesced around online, open journals and invented new ways to communicate.
PLOS Biology was launched in October 2003, followed a year later by PLOS Medicine. These two journals quickly established PLOS as a publisher of high-quality research and began to attract the attention — and submissions — of researchers throughout the world. In 2005 PLOS took innovation a step further with a clutch of community journals covering genetics, pathogens and computational biology. PLOS Currents launched in 2009 makes research results publically available within 24-hours of discovery.
As well as speeding up formal, scientific communication PLOS has found ways to allow scientists to use more informal channels of communication, from blogs to self-help tips. A prime example is the Ten Simple Rules collection of articles, created in response to demand from students which covers topics such as how to get published, how to collaborate and how to protect intellectual properly. That collection alone has had more than a million page views.
Getting everyday people involved in analysing cancer.
There can’t be many people in the world whose lives are totally untouched by cancer. Nearly everyone is familiar with the feeling of finding out that someone close to them – a friend, family member, a colleague – has received a diagnosis. Those people will also be familiar with the feeling of helplessness that comes with supporting someone with an illness that has no cure.
Cell Slider aims to be an opportunity for every one of those people to be part of finding cures for cancer.
Cell Slider – a collaboration between Cancer Research UK and citizen science experts Zooniverse – allows people to get involved in the classification of millions of samples of cancer cells, helping scientists move more quickly towards a cure for many types of cancer.
As Cancer Research UK says, whilst new techniques are revolutionising understanding, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, the sheer amount of information that scientists have to analyse – terabytes of archived research data – is delaying the pace of progress. Although technology and computer algorithms can do a huge amount, certain datasets require analysis that only the human eye can accomplish with accuracy; spotting particular patterns, defects, and other anomalies.
By giving up our own time, volunteers on Cell Slider can help to categorise and analyse cancer data that is then passed onto the experts.
Cell Slider offers to help make real strides in cancer research while providing everyday people with a tangible sense that they are making a contribution to tackling illnesses which affect millions.
Image courtesy of Cell Slider
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