Your work is vital. We are raising funds to support it.
we hurtle toward the end of 2013, it’s time for an update of nonprofit
technology trends and news!
time I’ll review the Nominet Trust 100 nominations for the very best technologies for
social good, the big TechSoup/Guardian Technology for Good Report, The soft launch of Hacker Helper, a
new free service that sends money over email, the world’s most popular
websites, and two new Netflix
style subscription services for eBooks. All that and Ginny Mies's pick for the
mobile app of the month.
you’re a nonprofit news junkie, have a look at all
our Nonprofit Technology
News pieces from this past year.
Hacker Helper is
a free online tool that will allow volunteer developers to prepare for
hackathons. The project is soft launching this month, and going public in March
2014. The tool will allow hackers and coders to get up to speed before the
hackathon by reading problem statements written from the perspective of the
people who are working to solve social problems on the ground: NGOs and
activists. It provides the developers with links to the relevant data sets,
APIs, and code bases that can be used to streamline the hackathon
experience. It also lists and maps hackathons worldwide. Basically, Hacker
Helper ensures that developers come to the hackathons prepared to code instead
of wasting the first day doing research. They can go straight to work to create
useful apps and other tools for solving social problems. The project was
originally funded by Microsoft for the Transforming Communities of Practice
The idea for Hacker Helper was born through collaboration
with partners, such as Random Hacks of Kindness who are trying to improve the
hackathon process and improve results from the events. Hackathons are most
often fast projects that last one to three days. Hacker Helper is all about not
reinventing the technology wheel.
The Hacker Helper project is closely aligned with our NetSquared vision of bringing communities
together to solve social problems – including nonprofits, beneficiaries,
activists, technologists, concerned citizens. Hacker Helper is currently in
beta. We are testing it out at hackathons this month in San Francisco and also in
Sarajevo in Bosnia. We will be launching the full version of the site in March
at NTC, at a hackathon we are co-producing with Code for America. After that we
hope lots of people will contribute content to it. It is essentially a wiki
where you will be able to upload a problem statement and links to related data
sets etc. Find out more about Hacker Helper via our Sheetal Singh's Community Boost_r piece, Calling all hackers (for social good)!
TechSoup has partnered with the British newspaper, The
Guardian, to co-publish an in-depth Technology for Good
report showcasing innovative uses of technology for social good. The
report is by our Rebecca Chao. It is a new type of content for us that will
hopefully inspire you to think beyond the day-to-day use of technology to the
ways that technology can transform our approach to solving big social problems.
The report covers new technologies like drone technology, and new uses for old
technologies like radio. The report also has a mix of tools that are in use to
directly to improve lives, and also tools that increase efficiency within
organizations that will trickle down to its beneficiaries. There’s a lot in
there. It covers 10 topics including humanitarian uses of drones:
• Mobile and cell phones •
New uses for TV and radio
• Tracking technology (like GPS) • Translation tools
• Mapping •
• Social media and crowdsourcing • Portable Networks
• Data management •
Back in my May
Nonprofit Technology News edition, I covered the emerging field of digital wallets. I admit
to being a bit envious of the Safaricom M-PESA
mobile payment system in Kenya that allows people there to text each other
money. No more. The venerable Walt Mossberg
of AllThingsD reports that a new free service called Square Cash lets you email cash to anyone
with an email address. The service is by the credit card reader company, Square. Did I say that their new Square Cash
email service is free of charge? It subtracts money from your debit card and it
doesn’t require that the recipient use your same bank. The service requires no
login or password and no special software or hardware, just use email from any
type device. This actually sounds too good to be true.
Square Cash allows you to send up to $2,500 each week in
several transactions or all at once. Currently it is available only in the
U.S., and works with debit cards carrying either the Visa or MasterCard logo.
It isn’t meant for buying things from merchants, but rather for
The catch? You have to trust Square. If fraud is suspected,
the company will reverse the fund transfer. After you email money each time,
the service notifies you via email or text that it appears you have sent money.
You can then have the opportunity to cancel a transaction that didn’t come from
you or was a mistake. Why don’t you try it and let me know.
Digital News, Wired,
and several other UK tech publications recently reported on Nominet Trust
100, or NT100, which is a new comprehensive global list of promising
applications of digital technology for social good. Nominet Trust is a leading
social technology funder in the UK. 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 tech innovators for good around the
Examples of NT100 projects include:
Have a look at the Nominet Trust 100 list of nominations from
all over the world.
Speaking of maps, the Oxford Internet
Institute has used Internet traffic data from Alexa to figure
each country’s most popular websites. Around 2.4 billiion of us use the
Internet nowadays. Google
dominates most of North America, Europe, south Asia and the south Pacific. Facebook
is the most popular site in the Spanish-speaking parts of the America, also the
Middle East, and North Africa. Other important websites in the world include the
Yandex search engine in
Russia, Yahoo in Japan and Taiwan, and Baidu in China. See the map here.
All Things D
also reports some news that effect libraries. There are two new e-book
subscription services. One is called Oyster
and the other is Scribd. These services use
a Netflix business model that allow subscribers to read as many books as you
want for a monthly fee. Oyster costs $9.95 per month, and Scribd is $8.99 per
month. Each has a somewhat different roster of publishers lists. It’s still not
as good a deal as your trusty local library.
I forgot to say something about
this in my recent big data piece, “What
Does Big Data Have to Do With Me and My Organization?” The
World Bank blog reports that it has launched an open data
website. It is a free online tool to provide nontechnical users with tools that
allows them to present World Bank international development data on your own website
in simple way or share it through social networking tools like Facebook and
Twitter. I know this sounds a bit abstract, so it’s probably best to view the World
Bank video that shows what this new free service can do.
(Free on iOS) app breathes new life into the stale concept of a mobile
calendar. Compatible with Google Calendar and iCloud, the Sunrise app syncs
your calendars with Facebook events so you’ll never miss an important meeting
or social gathering. What I like best about Sunrise is that you can actually do
things directly from the app like add more people to meetings, find a location
in Google Maps, or check the weather for the day. This alone makes it a
standout from the sea of other calendar apps out there.
Images: TechSoup Global and Nominet Trust
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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