Apps and the rise of assistive technology are still in their infancy in the third sector. Charities of all sizes still face digital innovation challenges in the form of lack of resources and technical expertise, and a heavy focus on traditional fundraising sometimes overlooks the way people – especially millennials – use technology, donate, and relate to causes.
For adopters who have harnessed the connective power of apps outside of the boundaries of fundraising and information sharing, technology is transforming the way every day people can take action on the things that matter to them, and how services are provided to users.
There are some brilliant apps that use technology to deliver services to users, and crowdsource for good – built on the idea that everyone wants to help and everyone has something to give, even if it’s not money. These apps are increasing visibility and building stronger bonds between those who want to help and those who ask for it.
Here are our favourite ones:
Be My Eyes
If you’re fully sighted, you’ve probably never experienced not knowing which is the shampoo bottle and which is conditioner. You can read the instructions on frozen pizza, read the bills that come in the post or match the colour of your earrings to the colour of your blouse. So why not help do it for someone else, too?
Be My Eyes connects low-sighted people to a nearly 2 million strong community of fully sighted volunteers from all over the world. Someone with low vision can make a call and the app will connect them to multiple volunteers. Whoever picks up first can then use the camera to guide the person through the task they need help with.
Finding a safe public bathroom to use is a daily concern for people who are transgender. Refuge Restroom’s supporters and users crowdsource information about public bathrooms that are safe to use for people who are trans, intersex or gender non-conforming.
“The intent behind Refuge is to take the anxiety and potential violence trans people face when using public restrooms away from an activity we all have a right to do in peace,” said app creator Harlan Kellaway to the Huffington Post.
The first few moments after cardiac arrest or brain injury can be absolutely critical for survival, but often neighbours or people nearby who are medically trained don’t realize that a situation is critical until an ambulance turns up. GoodSAM (Smartphone Activated Medics) crowdsourced emergency help by triggering a bystander alert through their smartphone app. When the app is alerted to a medical emergency, it will trigger a notification directing the nearest person with medical training to respond to the situation. It’ll also direct first responders to the nearest defibrillator.
If you are clinically trained first responder, you can sign up as a volunteer; if you’re in public with someone who is at risk, you can download the user-focused alerter app.
GoodSAM is one of the best emergency response systems in the world, and also partners with NHS hospitals to connect calls made to emergency response centres to nearby first responders.
StreetLink is an app that helps people to take positive action when they see a rough sleeper.
You can use it either as a homeless person who is sleeping rough or as a bystander. If you’re the latter, the app will prompt you to log a time and a location, and it will either dispatch a local outreach team or help you direct the person to the nearest support service.
If you’ve got an HTC phone, this is for you. Power to Give allows you to ‘donate’ your excess, unused processing power to a research-based grid. All that power supports medical, scientific and environmental research!
Get it on: Google Play
Have you seen any great examples of apps that deliver important services to their users? Let us know in the comments!