There is a great deal of untapped potential in consistently applying existing technologies to support, and in fact, direct social change.
Technology advancements over the years have had a considerable impact on society—and yet in most cases, this social impact has been secondary to business and profit aims. Satistied with selective pockets of social and economic change, we often overlook the endless missed opportunities as we blindly follow the course of technology.
I recently got a real taste of what this means as we looked at the social sector landscape in India.
As technology innovators, we are naturally excited by new ideas and, in India, my team was pushing for ground-breaking innovation in health care delivery. We wanted to integrate a new range of patientcentric home medical devices for monitoring and diagnosis using a hosted cloud-based service (built over a connected infrastructure), and to establish a centralized service for remote management. It was a rude shock to learn that while we were advocating the use of the latest cloud, M2M, and mobile technologies, the existing system had not yet applied even two-decade-old basic computing technologies. Many of the ongoing health care programs we observed still used hand-filled paper forms for dataentry and tracking. Within one organization, which ran a pre- and post-natal assessment program, it was open knowledge that data entered by community health workers was rarely monitored, compiled, or acted on.