Mobile innovation that’s making a global impact: #MobileWorldChangers

By Kristina Smith

From green living and women’s safety to senior care and animal welfare, mobile innovation is making a global impact. At IBM, one of our core values is celebrating innovation that matters to the world. In that spirit, we’ve developed the Mobile World Changer series to honor organizations who are leveraging the power of mobile to better their communities worldwide.

This list spotlights mobile innovation around the world, but the heart of this effort goes beyond technology alone. The innovators on this list are being recognized for mobile innovations that improve, change and, in some cases, save lives. These organizations are being presented with a digital badge to celebrate their success in using mobile technology to fight for what the world needs most: unity, empowerment, positive change and equality.

The following are our Mobile World Changers:

Daystar University: Breaking education barriers in Africa

Students at Daystar University

In Africa, there are millions of capable and willing students who do not have access to higher education because of social, economic and geographical barriers, according to the Africa-America Institute. Daystar University launched Daystar Mobile, the world’s first smartphone-based degree program in Africa, to address this gap. Students participate in the degree program through an app that gives them access to class materials, videos, readings and interactive exercises, thus breaking education barriers and changing lives.

United Way of Greater Austin: Closing the economic gap for low-income families

Families at United Way of Greater Austin

For low-income or homeless individuals, help is not always easy to find among the local tangle of social services, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. The United Way of Greater Austin (UWATX) helps its residents navigate the complex system with its Navigation Center hotline. In 2015, increasing call volumes put tremendous stress on the UWATX call center. A group of students from the University of Texas at Austin used cognitive computing to develop a mobile app that transforms the way people access social services by giving them an intelligent, personal guide to help them navigate the complicated network of resources in the area.

Tapp Commerce: Democratizing commerce in emerging markets

Street vendor

Tapp Commerce‘s mission is to create totally new commerce opportunities and networks that increase economic participation and, ultimately, quality of life for people everywhere. As part of this vision, it introduced the Tapp Mobile Marketplace app, which provides the opportunity for people without bank accounts to buy goods and services online. More than 30,000 sales agents currently use the app, which has served nearly 3 million buyers in Southeast Asia.

SimpleC: Fighting Alzheimer’s for aging Americans

Family helping grandmother on computer

The healthcare industry has been challenged to find new ways to address the aging population, and according to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. SimpleC developed SimpleC Companion, a tablet-based mobile solution that provides medical therapies that family members and novice caregivers can customize and deliver. SimpleC was able to scale by aligning its solution with the IBM Bluemix cloud platform and accessing new capabilities from IBM Watson APIs. It now has more than 2,500 individual profiles at 45 facilities across 10 states.

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Safetipin: Ensuring women’s safety in India

Indian woman outside

New Delhi, India has been described as one of the most dangerous and unsafe cities in the world, especially for women. Founded by Kalpana Viswanath and Ashish Basu, the mobile app Safetipin was designed to support safer cities. The app includes a robust personal safety tracker feature that lets users track a person who has turned on his or her “Track Me” button. Safetipin also uses mobile technology and crowdsourcing to inform local governments of the safety scores of certain neighborhoods. The Delhi government has announced plans to illuminate more than 7,000 dark spots across the capital as identified by Safetipin’s mobile solution.

Rescue Bank: Improving pets’ lives with nourishment and love

Woman in a boat rescuing two dogs

Every year in the US, an estimated 6 million to 8 million lost, abandoned or unwanted dogs and cats enter animal shelters. To combat this, Rescue Bank, a nonprofit organization supporting the animal rescue and rehabilitation community, launched a secure and scalable field services app. This app is used to manage real-time inventory visibility and reduce errors, costs and handling times. Rescue Bank has now distributed more than 120 million pet food meals to animals in shelters and has saved lives in the process.

Pono Home: Empowering residential energy efficiency

Energy efficient home

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that in 2016, US energy production increased for the sixth consecutive year. As concerns about global warming grow, activist and author Scott Cooney looked to mobile to help decrease residential energy consumption. He saw that people felt deterred by the cost of greening their homes and overlooked inexpensive energy efficiency solutions. Scott created PonoHome, a mobile solution that allows technicians to save data throughout service calls and track inventory in real-time. As a result, the company is able to reduce its expenses so residents can take advantage of lower costs and better return on their investments.

The Goethe-Institut: Aiding refugees in Germany

Person writing in German at the Goethe-Institut
Newly arrived refugees in Germany face many challenges, including cultural and linguistic hurdles. The Goethe-Institut has developed an offering that can help newcomers to Germany take those difficult first steps. Ankommen (Arrival) was created to help refugees successfully navigate their first weeks in Germany. There are modules for learning the German language, job searching and becoming familiar with practical and value-oriented aspects of German life.

Who are the next Mobile World Changers?

The power to change the world is at your fingertips. As technology advances and mobile phone networks extend their reach to developing countries and rural areas, the opportunities for mobile innovation to bring about positive global impact are always expanding.

All it takes is a passion for change and an innovative mindset. There are affordable ways to develop mobile solutions that can help unite, empower and improve communities worldwide. With excitement and optimism, we look forward to the life-changing innovations to come.

Stay up-to-date on these stories and more by following #MobileWorldChangers on Facebook and Twitter.


Written By

Kristina Smith

Social Media Strategist

Kristina is a digital marketing specialist, educational technologist and public speaker. She holds a BBA in Organizational Management and is currently working on a Master's degree in Educational Technology. Prior to consulting, Kristina served as a digital marketer for L'Oreal where…

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