When mobile apps aren’t just about games and entertainment
Games and entertainment apps were so big especially in 2015. Little did most people know that the growing app market has not been all about the many incarnations of Clash of Clans and Candy Crush or Netflix. Believe it or not, the market has its own share of humanity, too. Over the past few years, many developers across the globe have also thought of building applications that can exemplify how technology can also be part of the helping humanitarian causes.
Take the German government’s initiative as an example. Putting a big smile on the tech market at the outset of the year is Ankommen, the mobile app created by the German government to help asylum seekers be familiarized with their new country. Ankommen, which literally means “arrive” or “come,” gives asylum seekers basic info on Germany’s language, customs, traditions, even work and study options.
According to a report by NBC, the app is free on Google Play Store, and will soon be available on iOS AppStore. Presently, it is accessible to all refugees from Syria, Ukraine, and Iraq in English, Farsi, Arabic, French, and, of course, German.
Germany’s warm welcome via Ankommen also extended to women and their rights. Just recently, a new section on gender equality has been added on the app after the horrifying mass attacks on women in its major city Cologne.
While women remain largely unrepresented in the tech and entrepreneur sector, women’s rights for equality are now gaining attention from the world through a non-profit organization’s new initiative. In 2014, Technovation, a program of NPO group Iridescent, invited girls from middle school to university to showcase their talent in developing apps focused on solving world problems. Unsurprisingly, thousands of girls responded to the call.
Winners of the invitational tournament developed innovative apps. Their creations include a geo-mapped potable water locator from Moldova, a multilingual dietary restriction guide from California, a mental health awareness app from New York, and a receipt organizer from South Korea, among others. All of which can now be downloaded from Google Play Store.
The year 2015 also saw the creation and launch of Born2Invest, the very first and the only multilingual news curation app for business and finance on the market. The revolutionary app, despite being only launched in July, is now curating news stories from respected news agencies in 25 different languages. CEO Dom Einhorn said that one of the company’s main objectives is to be available in 50 plus languages in more than 150 markets as soon as possible.
“Mostly, international stories are just available in major languages—English, Spanish, French, German—but we don’t believe in that. We make these big stories available in other languages, too, say, Russian, or soon, in Bahasa,” Einhorn stated.
Born2Invest also curates local business stories, which makes the app very enticing to non-American readers.
“We believe that great and important stories go beyond language and deserved to be read and heard across the world. That is our job—to educate, to disseminate information, to globalize the finance and business new segment. In a sense, our app connects people from around the world. This is our contribution to our ever-expanding world,” Einhorn added.
Perhaps, the most challenging and biggest campaign a humanity-centric mobile app wants to achieve is the goal of ReThink Supply Chains. Last December, Partnership for Freedom, an organization comprising a group of government agencies and private foundations, created ReThink Supply Chains to encourage tech innovators and app developers across the world to build an app that would help eliminate slave labor.
Through an app design competition, the group will be able to bring all the best developers in the world together and encourage them to build a new app that could possibly eliminate the growing problem of slavery, particularly in third world countries. A grant of $500,000 awaits the winner, which would be announced sometime this January.
“In many instances, they have already been addressing issues that are analogous. That could be conflict minerals, that could be tracking the source of e-Coli, mobile money, digital payments — those kinds of things,” Catherine Chen, director of investments at Humanity United, told Bloomberg.
“We wanted to get that community of problem solvers to focus their talents on this particular challenge and to see that there’s a lot of opportunity,” she added.
Humanity United is a social welfare organization started by eBay founders Pam and Pierre Omidyar in 2005. Among the supporters of the cause are Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s 10,000 Women initiative.