The Verizon Foundation recently sponsored a competition with a social justice twist in the form of an “App Challenge” for high school students in America. The mission of the contest was to develop mobile applications that meet a need or problem within their community.”
Doing more than creating social good, the competition was also designed to improve student engagement in science, technology engineering and math. The students were tasked to use their skills to create applications that would provide real-world solutions.
Verizon isn’t alone is promoting the use of technology for improving society. Four apps already in widespread use are:
DecisionMakr gives Twitter uses real-time qualitative and quantitative feedback to decision makers at town hall meetings and public events. A leaderboard in the app allows decision makers to see how useful their proposals are and instant ranking encourages a race to the top. The app already has its first use and will be implemented by Yale at the Climate COP meeting in Doha in December.
The American Red Cross says that over 40,000 blood donations are needed each day. The Blood Donation app allows users to sign up and be alerted with local blood banks are running low. By relying on both location and SMS, blood banks can let donors know when they are needed.
Addicaid helps problem drinks with an easy meeting finder and a semi-anonymous support network. Alcoholics Anonymous has proved to be a promising option for treatment, yet most AA participants leave the program. Addicaid takes the shame away of going to AA by crowd-sourcing sobriety.
Dwolla is a website that allows anyone with an Internet connection to send safely money to friends or businesses. Good2dolist is a task list that deducts money from your Dwolla account and donates it to the charity of your choice when the user fails to accomplish their tasks on time.
Many for-profit businesses are seeing the broad potential of applications which can be used to help build social justice. Intellectsoft, a star mobile app development company who builds solutions for companies like Ernst & Young and Harley Davidson is soon reported to launch apps in a similar field. ArcTouch and Savvy Apps are other firms who have expressed interest in building apps meant to improve the society.
Who knows. Maybe one day the winner of “App Challenge” may work for them.