Digital technologies are transforming every aspect of human life
The emergence of digital has become synonymous with the transformation in the enterprise and business landscape. Technologies such as IoT, mobile connectivity, sensors, data analytics, AI/ML etc. have delivered exponential benefits in form of operational excellence , customer experience and new revenue channels. Their numerous implementations have received widespread recognition, inspiring the technology community to ideate new products and services for customers.
However, these technologies also have an inherent potential to deliver exponential value by addressing the social issues affecting humankind. From using drones to plan water supply schemes in hard-to-reach locations, to deploying satellite imagery for enhancing land usage, or using mobile phones to track health, technology is changing the way we live.
Digitalization for better social outcomes
Social programs across the world need to run a tight ship in order to ensure maximum utilization of the donations they have received. The digital technologies which have optimized business processes can also be deployed to reduce wastage and enable more effective utilization of the limited amount of available resources. The Akshaya Patra Foundation is one such organization which has successfully leveraged digital technologies to optimize their functions. The organization digitized their kitchens to enable real-time visibility of data which improved their operational efficiency by 5%. Savings from the 5% efficiency have allowed them to serve meals to an additional 28500 students.
Leveraging technology to improve quality of life for the differently-abled
Be it healthcare, education or clean energy, Indian startups are exploiting technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, Blockchain, Automation, Virtual Reality, Digital and more to develop unique products to meet the social needs. Sohum Innovation Labs India Pvt Ltd. has leveraged these technologies to develop a low-cost hardware cum software solution to screen and diagnose infants with hearing impairments which would otherwise be undiagnosed due to lack of equipment in underprivileged areas. The device incorporates specialized reusable sensors and precision electronics to capture brain signals and a software algorithm to analyze them and detect hearing impairments at an early stage. With over 800,000 infants born every year globally with hearing difficulties and over 100,000 in India alone, this device can improve their lives significantly.
India’s large technology services sector has also been capitalizing on their expertise in technology to deliver an impact to communities in India. Tata Consultancy Services, currently the largest technology services company in the world, has collaborated with an NGO- Adarsh Rehabilitation Center to gamify the physiotherapy treatment for differently abled children. The currently available gamified physiotherapy platforms in the market are focused on people recovering from surgery and also commonly suggested physical therapy protocols for children with neuromotor disabilities are unable to provide them with the right motivation to perform their daily exercise. TCS gamified the training exercises using AI, sensors and virtual reality to make training sessions interactive. Furthermore, the data generated by sensors helps doctors monitor their progress. The platform is customizable to meet the needs of individual child as well as scalable to be deployed across multiple institutions.
Improving livelihoods in marginalized societies
Global enterprises have also entered the fray by leveraging their existing product development capabilities to develop products which could improve lives in rural communities. Robert Bosch’s India center is one of the global corporations which have undertaken an initiative to improve agricultural yields in India through use of IoT and analytics. They have launched a pilot project in Karnataka’s Bidar district which utilize drones and robots to capture precision data on crop and soil conditions to determine the exact amount of fertilizer and pesticides to be used. The project has delivered encouraging results by delivering a 15-20% improvement in farm outputs.
Social Impact through better governance
Government entities across the world are using the digital technologies to transform their governance and improve the delivery of services to their populations. The Andhra Pradesh State Energy Conservation Mission
in co-ordination with the Bureau of Energy Efficiency has recently announced to extend the IOT-based energy efficiency project to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in all 13 districts of the state. Under the program, the state power agency will install power control devices with IOT which will enable the energy users as well as power distribution company to better monitor electricity consumption. The devices have been designed by IIT Hyderabad in collaboration with National Productivity Council. The program will also provide additional benefits such as increase in production rate due to reduced stoppage time and technical losses in the system. The program can also potentially reduce the overall power consumption by over 10%.
Delivering impact during the COVID-19 pandemic
The digital technologies have been able to demonstrate their potential in the ongoing COVID-19 crisis by ensuring sustenance when the traditional processes had collapsed. New age technologies have saved numerous lives by ensuring that the global healthcare systems were able to maintain service delivery to the affected population. One noticeable example of this is the robot developed by Asimov Robotics, a startup based out of Kerala which were deployed in hospital isolation wards to carry food and medicines to the affected patients and reduce pressure on the healthcare staff.
Recognizing the role of technology in uplifting mankind
Technology and innovation thus hold the key to change the social norms and empower millions of people across the globe. Providing the recognition to these technologically powered social programs can help inspire others to leverage them for upliftment of humankind. NASSCOM’s Engineering and Innovation Excellence Awards seek to recognize the technology driven innovations which have delivered an impact on improving lives of humankind.