Nominet Trust reveals 100 leading ventures using tech to solve world’s biggest social problems
London, November 8th: From fighting human trafficking with data to harnessing the power of the crowd to beat cancer, 100 inspiring uses of technology to tackle the world’s biggest problems have been revealed as part of a new social enterprise initiative.
The Nominet Trust 100, or NT100, is the most comprehensive, up-to-date and authoritative global list of the most inspiring applications of digital technology for social good.
An illustrious steering group, led by innovation expert Charles Leadbeater, has compiled the NT100, which identifies ingenious uses of technology changing lives in areas ranging from poverty to human rights, education and healthcare.
Nominet Trust, the UK’s leading social tech funder, said the initiative is designed to inspire social entrepreneurs to follow in the footsteps of the world’s leading social technology pioneers.
Annika Small, CEO of Nominet Trust, said: “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 that technology can be used to transform how we address complex social challenges from health and education to poverty and climate change.
“The Nominet Trust 100 is designed to celebrate the people who are using digital technology to change the world for the better. In seeking people who are coming up with creative answers to the big issues of our times, we were bowled over by the scale of the response with hundreds of nominations from all over the world. But the NT 100 is not a definitive, final list – it’s the foundation for a dynamic resource that will inspire and inform other social entrepreneurs.”
The NT100 will form the basis for a growing online resource for social enterprises called “The Social Tech Guide”. It is intended to be a dynamic public database of social tech innovations around the world that will accelerate the use of technology as a tool for social change.
Ten leading projects, which Nominet Trust called “Trailblazers”, have been selected from the NT100 for the “remarkable” impact they are having.
These include Witness, the Peter Gabriel-founded watchdog which uses online videos and the web to open the eyes of the world to human rights abuses; Mozilla’s free and open source Firefox web browser; and Creative Commons, the project set up to provide a straightforward licensing framework for online creators.
Kickstarter, the American crowd-funding website which has helped more than 50,000 creative projects secure around $850m (£525m) from 5.1m people, and Patients Like Me, a network of 200,000 people sharing their experiences of thousands of medical conditions – providing mutual support and a unique resource for researchers – were also among the 10 trailblazing projects.
Cell Slider, which harnesses the power of the crowd to fight cancer, was one of 10 projects identified by Nominet Trust as “ones to watch” for their potential to have a significant impact in their chosen field.
The London-based initiative allows ordinary web users 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 the disease.
Vision 2020, which tackles modern-day slavery using data to map, track and support anti-human trafficking hotlines, also features as a “one to watch” in the study.
Ms Small, who was also part of the steering group, said “key themes” in the list include social entrepreneurs finding compelling ways to open up access to healthcare and education; imaginative uses of digital technology to tackle the pressures on natural resources resulting from climate change; and community tools that are “challenging traditional power structures in favour of empowering citizens.”
For example, Global Village Construction Set, another “one to watch” project, has developed a design catalogue of 50 industrial machines that could maintain “a small civilisation 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 agriculture, manufacturing and construction tools.
Other projects on the NT100 include BBC Janala, which is helping millions of Bangladeshis to learn English through three-minute lessons and SMS quizzes delivered to their mobile phones; and Taobao, a Chinese equivalent of eBay that is being used to arrange care for millions of elderly people who are isolated from their families.
Famous UK-based projects which feature in the NT100 include credit card-sized computer Raspberry Pi and the charitable donations business JustGiving.
Charles Leadbeater said: “The NT100 highlights how digital technologies can make a real difference to some of the most pressing social challenges we face. We want to offer the NT100 as a growing public source of information of social tech innovators around the world, searchable by anyone seeking a solution to a social challenge."
The steering group chaired by Mr Leadbeater also included Lord Jim Knight, the former Schools Minister who specialises in the use of technology in education and employment; BBC technology journalist Rory Cellan-Jones; Madhav Chavan, a leading Indian educator, social activist and social entrepreneur; and Jeremy Heimans, founder and CEO of Purpose and Avaaz.
The NT100 can be found online at socialtech.org.uk