It's about time to catch up on some nonprofit technology trends and news!
This time I’ll review some new developments in digital inclusion, smart watches, accessibility technology, apps in Africa, crowdfunding resources, and digital trends to expect in the next five years. All that and Ginny Mies's pick for the mobile app of the month. This piece is also published here.
Facebook’s new Internet.org initiative is perhaps the biggest NPTech news item. The new program was announced by Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg in late August. It aims to develop very low-cost Internet on mobile phones to bring the 4 billion souls on earth who don't yet have Internet in to the information age. The project is controversial in that it definitely has digital inclusion aims, but also is in the critical path of Facebook’s business objectives to grow its user base. Find my piece, “Will Facebook’s Internet.org Bridge the Global Digital Divide?” that explains what Internet.org aims to do and how it aims to do it.
Oh good. Another post-PC device to buy and pay attention to. With the recent announcements of the Samsung Galaxy Gear Smart Watch, Qualcomm Toq, and even one for cars, the Nissan Nismo, smart watches are all in the news now. Of course the trend in all offices, nonprofit and otherwise, is ‘consumerization of IT’ in which we’re all augmenting our work PCs with our personal smartphones, tablets… and now apparently smart watches. These are computerized wristwatches with features typically found on a smartphone or tablet.You could also think of them as wearable computing.
I very much like Jason Hiner’s critique of the current state of smart watches:
“(smart watches) shouldn't try to foist a dumbed-down smartphone experience into the watch. It doesn't need a camera. And it doesn't have to be another phone interface (a Bluetooth headset does that much better). You don't need to send messages from it.
The ideal smartwatch will focus on three things it can do uniquely do well:
The UK NPTech website, Charity Digital News reports that the Royal London Society for the Blind and IBM are creating a new voice controlled screen reading application called the Chatty Web. This technology will make it easier for blind and sight-impaired people to browse the web. This new application will replace expensive screen reader software that has trouble with some websites.
mpesa – the tagline for the Kenyan developed banking app is ‘Bank account in the palm of your hand.” Mpesa works on really basic phones and allows users to deposit money, and most importantly to transfer money using SMS (texting) to other users. The service has 17 million users and is transforming the way wealth is distributed in poor countries, which now include Tanzania, India, and Afghanistan as well as Kenya. The success of mpesa in combination with the arrival of broadband there has stimulated the billion dollar ‘silicon savanah’ movement in Kenya.
Zimbile - is a Zimbabwean based online service that allows anyone in Africa to quickly build nimble mobile capable websites. The websites are text only and building them requires no previous technical skills. They also connect well with Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
Mafuta Go – is a Ugandan based app service that provides information on smartphones about the closest least expensive gasoline in town.
Finally, I think one of the more interesting international crowdfunding projects is Watsi, a Global Crowdfunding Platform for Healthcare. This service enables anyone to donate as little as $5 to directly fund medical care for people in need. Move over Gates Foundation.
In the era of big data, data-mining and data management skills will be in high job demand.
Technology moves from relying on search, files, and pages to reading, understanding, and enabling streams (cloud, social, local, mobile).
The Internet of Things and pervasive machine-to-machine connectivity will become very real and hence the end of offline. Resistance is futile…
Ginny Mies' Mobile App of the Month
Just in time for Social Media September, I’m excited about these new additions to HootSuite’s App Directory. HootSuite is an all-encompassing social media dashboard and it’s a tool I rely on at TechSoup. Gmail for HootSuite lets you view your Gmail messages within your dashboard. VirtalTag for Pinterest lets you schedule, share, and analyze your Pinterest pins on your HootSuite dashboard. And finally, VidCaster for HootSuite allows you to view, share, and measure analytics on your videos so you can better tell your nonprofit’s story.