Charles Leadbeater in the Financial Times: “The Nominet Trust, the corporate foundation of Nominet, the organisation which looks after the UK’s system of website addresses, has been scouring the world for innovations in which people use digital technologies to tackle social challenges. The Trust wants to inspire and back UK innovators to realise the still largely untapped social potential of digital technologies, to provide new ways for people to learn, look after their health, find cleaner forms of energy and create new economic activity.
We have just announced the second year of the Nominet Trust 100, our annual celebration of such global digital social innovation. This showcases the incessant, unfolding waves of innovation rippling around the world as cheaper and more reliable digital technologies cross-fertilise and multiply. Such innovation waves build from far off before rushing forward with immense power. One prime example is 3D printing, which is about to become a practical tool rather than an esoteric toy of the rich or hip….
Last year’s NT100 featured Cell Slider, an app from Cancer Research UK that harnessed the power of “citizen scientists” to classify images of cells, helping researchers move more quickly towards finding a cure for cancer. Cellslider’s citizen-science approach meant that in just three months, one million images were classified by people using the app. Reverse the Odds reached that milestone in just two weeks.
Combining state-of-the-art game design, expertise in data analysis and remarkable production values, Reverse the Odds is a mobile puzzle where players are challenged to save a race of adorable minions within a magical world. The mini-puzzles are enough to engage thousands of players but in helping these colourful creatures, players are actually analysing real cancer data, which helps the scientists at Cancer Research UK to move more quickly to finding cures. The charity has terabytes of images of cells that can only be analysed by humans — computers can’t identify the patterns required.
HarassMap is an Egyptian innovation to crowd-map sexual harassment, in a country where 83 per cent of women, and 98 per cent of foreign women, have experienced sexual abuse and assault.
The NGO, founded by Rebecca Chiao and three other women in 2010, uses the same technology as Ushahidi did in mapping violence in Kenya’s 2007 elections. Anyone can report and detail each instance of an attack, filed by category, from ogling and catcalling, to indecent exposure and rape, using their mobile phone to upload information to a database which then generates the map.
Victims get an instant, automated message of support including where to get legal aid, psychological counselling, learn self-defence and how to make a police report. The data generated allows the NGO to properly measure the problem of sexual harassment for the first time and help engineer a shift in how the Egyptian media reports sexual attacks. It also gives their network of 1,500 trained volunteers the ammunition to make sexual abuse socially unacceptable by challenging community norms, using hard facts.
HarassMap has a distressingly large potential market. The group has given training and technical assistance to activists from 28 other countries to run similar projects, everywhere from Palestine and Yemen to Bangladesh, Pakistan, Syria, India and the UK….”