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Technology for the good

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The battle continues, is technology evil or good? Here Paula Lepore Burrough uncovers some indisputable positives.

Cyberbullying, child pornography sites, email scams, violent video games, hacking and viruses, racist hate sites… is there no end to the negative, if not downright evil uses of our modern communication and computer technology? This is the impression one might get from reading the headlines, but just like most things in life, tech has the capacity for both evil and good. So on the heels of ushering in a new year, perhaps it is best to be optimistic and take a closer look at many of its positive uses. The power of technology combined with efforts for humanity can be nothing short of amazing. Here are a few inspiring uses.

Special Needs

Freedom Communications started as a web-design company then discovered an underdeveloped market. People with special needs and the non-profit organisations supporting them were not receiving the attention they deserved from Information Technology (IT) professionals. In 2009, this company set up OEM Interactive to deliver affordable and high-quality IT solutions to this market. An example of OEM’s work is the development of a social story application (app) for autistic kids, which helps them adapt to foreign situations, such as a trip to the hairdressers. OEM has also partnered with the Hong Kong Blind Union to develop an app that allows a visually impaired person to input Chinese characters into an iPhone using Cantonese-Pinyin braille.

Medical Benefits

Technology has been used to create an array of benefits in the medical world which will continue to provide improved patient care and make treatment more cost effective. Innovations as simple as clinical practice guidelines and electronic medical records allow for more accurate population research and a better understanding of healthy living. Today, new advances are being made with technology such as ultrasound, even though it has been around for over 50 years. Doctors in Glasgow, Scotland are now using ultrasound to heal both simple and complex fractures. The treatment is painless and the recovery rate has been reported to be 40% faster. How does this work? Ultrasound encourages the removal of bacteria and stimulates the rate of bone cell production.

Fundraising Efforts

Technology has been making it easier for non-profit organisations to receive donations. Cell phone companies such as Vodaphone have set up ‘text to donate’ logistics to help provide relief in times of severe tragedy. Users can instantly text in the sum of money they wish to give. Reputable fundraising sites or internet banking can also be used to collect worldwide donations. Good set-up sites provide support, and include information about where help is needed and opportunities for volunteers. They are transparent about their fees and offer innovative products such as apps for social networks. Some sites even allow contributors to schedule monthly donations. All of this benefits fundraising efforts and reaches out to the masses quickly and efficiently. No more door to door.

Green Technology

Green technology is our safeguard against environmental pollution now and for the future. We are all aware of the renewable energies, and hopefully we are involved with recycling and resource conservation on a daily basis. But how is innovative technology helping to save the world? Take the everyday computer printer and the waste that comes with excess printing and having to constantly change cartridges. Why not consider the Printstik p900, an ink-less printer that uses thermal printing technology to reproduce monochrome text and images. Or take it a step further with the Magic Erase Board. While it is still in development, this eco printer will use ink with photographic materials that disappears under ultra-violet irradiation; ‘magically’ erasing your document for reuse.

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