Nominet Trust, the UK’s leading tech for good funder, today unveils its 2016 NT100 – a celebration of the 100 most inspiring social innovations using digital technology to drive social change around the world. A quarter of the 100 selected initiatives are from the UK and Ireland.
Now in its fourth year, the NT100 gives special recognition to what organiser Nominet Trust calls “everyday tech heroes”: the inspirational people who have first-hand experience of the challenges they are tackling with technology.
The trust says that organisations chosen for this year’s NT100 “have wide-ranging purposes, from those determined to democratise access to quality education and healthcare, to those connecting minority communities and evoking empathy”.
As in 2015, it says, improving humanitarian response was again “a strong and topical theme”. But while the projects featured in the 2015 NT100 were largely responsive, in 2016 “they demonstrate how humanitarian resources can be predictively deployed to mitigate crises and make sure scant resources are used well”.
Twenty-five of the 2016 NT100 are from the UK and Ireland:
First Response Monitor
Global Trachoma Mapping Project (GTMP)
Million Image Database
NHS Widening Digital Participation
Open Voice Factory (former name: AzuleJoe)
SWOYO (featured pic)
The Forever Project
Walk With Path (pictured below)
In its official announcement, Nominet Trust points to key themes in the 2016 NT100, including:
Despite 10% of the world’s population living with a disability, they are a chronically underrepresented group; yet over 10% of the ventures in 2016 NT100 are using technology to help people live more inclusive and autonomous lives. Projects include EVA Park, a virtual environment to help those with aphasia recover communication skills; Hand Talk, a Brazilian innovation introducing Hugo, a virtual interpreter that translates between spoken languages and sign language; DisruptDisability, which has created the world’s first open source wheelchair designs; and the South-West Open Youth Orchestra (SWOYO), the UK’s only disabled-led regional youth orchestra. The founder of DisruptDisability, Rachael Wallach, and the SWOYO musicians are celebrated as everyday tech heroes for “imaginatively using technology to demonstrate how a physical disability need not inhibit your mobility or even deter you from being a world-class musician”.
Eight NT100 ventures featured in 2016 are trailblazing routes towards economic empowerment for people who have been disenfranchised for too long. Giraffe is a free recruitment app to help tackle high levels of unemployment in Cape Town, while Bim is a ground-breaking mobile money platform, opening up financial services to rural communities in Peru. Everyday tech heroes Nova Credit watched their families struggle financially when emigrating to the US, so they set up the world’s first international credit reporting agency, helping people to access essential funds to get established as new arrivals.
Nominet Trust says health remains a strong theme this year, with a greater emphasis on mental health. Three of the projects focus on helping those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – estimated to affect 7-8% of the US population alone. Projects include MyBivy, which helps PTSD patients to avoid night terrors and BraveMind, a virtual reality therapeutic game that supports those recovering. Pioneering research from the team behind SimSensei has shown that a virtual human clinician can help PTSD sufferers and others to open up, enabling more effective mental health diagnosis and treatment.
10 of the NT100 “show how technology can deliver education to excluded groups”. One example, Kiron, is an online tool providing a world-class education to refugees who are five times more likely to be out of school than the global average. Other ventures include OneUni, which aims to give everyone access to a university education through a mobile phone, and iScoil – an Irish online education system to help those who left school early to get back on track.
In 2016 the trust saw some “incredible breakthroughs” in delivering clean water to everyone. “Innovations ran the entire pipeline” including WaterScope, bringing fast, cheap and reliable water-testing kits to local communities in India and Gambia using a raspberry pi and a 3d printer, mWater, a global community of water surveyors working to highlight which places still need clean water; and Driblet, a smart water meter that monitors water usage, pressure and temperature and has the potential to cut water consumption by up to 30%.
10% of the 2016 NT100 focuses on technology that helps keep people safe, from the protection of those in conflict zones to young people experiencing bullying. Mine Kafon Drone, an airborne drone that can detect and remove landmines, was founded by everyday tech hero Massoud Hassani. Having grown up near the minefields in Kabul, Hassani drew inspiration from his childhood to develop Mine Kafon to help clear the world’s landmines quickly and systematically and raise global awareness. In the UK Michael Brennan, another everyday tech hero, responded to his own experience of being bullied as a young boy by creating tootoot, a safe and anonymous online reporting environment that gives students a voice.
Commenting on the 2016 NT100, Nominet Trust director Vicki Hearn said: “In our fourth year of the NT100, we have discovered 700 more social tech innovations from across the globe. It is truly inspiring to know that so many entrepreneurs from all walks of life are embracing digital technology as a force for social good. We hope inclusion in the 2016 NT100 provides a valuable stepping stone for these life-enhancing ventures to raise their profile and secure further investment.”
She continued: “NT100 provides a platform that amplifies the collective power of the tech for good community. It has a valuable role to play in inspiring those with the influence and resources to accelerate the adoption of tech for social good and brings together entrepreneurs, innovators, NGOs, charities, technologists and others to share knowledge, experiences and skills to introduce social change on a global scale.”
“Vitally, our recognition of everyday tech heroes this year shows that you don’t have to have influence and a big budget to play an inspirational role. With the right tech tools and a powerful desire to change the status quo, these heroes are tackling some of the world’s most pressing social challenges – starting with the ones on their own doorsteps.”
Nominet Trust was founded as a charitable foundation in 2008 by Nominet, a public benefit company with 20 years’ experience of running the .UK internet infrastructure, using the proceeds of its successful registry business.
Nominet chief executive Russell Haworth said: “The NT100 is a powerful and influential initiative, bringing together many hundreds of social tech innovations from around the world which each embrace digital technology for good.
“That such a diverse selection of inspiring projects is curated in this way is so important, not least for the global platform it provides each of them to secure future investment, but for the wide-ranging challenges they help to address and solve.
Nominet Trust is the UK’s leading social tech funder. It provides full grant funding, mentoring and business support to organisations using the internet and digital technology to address significant social challenges including health and wellbeing, economic empowerment and sustainability.
Since 2009, Nominet Trust has invested more than £25m in projects harnessing technology to deliver social change.
The 2016 NT100 was selected following a three-month period of research and public nominations. Shortlisted projects were reviewed by a panel of organisations including judging partners the Big Lottery Fund, Cancer Research UK, Comic Relief, Nominet, Oxfam, Telefonica O2 and Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship.