Learn from the margin, not the center: digital innovation with social impact as transformative force bridging digital divide

Research Studios Austria Forschungsgesellschaft mbH; Prof. Dr. Peter A. Bruck; Portrait;

(World Summit Awards, 2018)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Professor Peter A. Bruck, Chairman of the Board of World Summit Awards. The opinions expressed in this article belong to the distinguished writer.

While Silicon Valley may stand undefeated as the most prominent name for tech entrepreneurs and startup visionaries, other regions all over the world are worthy competitors. The transformative opportunities of digitization affect all areas of life. Especially in countries with difficult access to the Internet, the creative use of new technologies and witty content finds solutions to societal challenges.

Big Exits, Unicorns, sale headlines at the billion dollar end of the scale – that is what the world tends to focus on, a shallow, fast wavering perception of the tech world. The start-up industry is characterised by growth and opportunity, and as the industry changes, opportunities increase and decrease, as do start-ups. Innovation represents the constant development and movement of the digital revolution worldwide, but what is in it content wise? What is the down to benefit for humankind? Beyond numbers and big exits, the success of digital start-ups can be measured by something much more sustainable, namely the social impact they make.

It is a known fact that telecom providers support the data infrastructure, that services like Facebook use without investing a cent. Huge internet companies are dodging the fares, globally engage advertisers, while any other user of mobile networks must pay for their data volume. More and more heavy data usage being the status-quo and will grow with the AR movement.

Zuckerberg sees this as completely natural. As he declared in an interview with Jessi Hempel, the deputy – editor in chief of the magazine Wired in 2016, he would understand the continuing frustration of telecoms, who invest billions in better networks for Facebook. It would be up to them to come up with new business models. Facebook would be ready to partner anytime.

This imbalance in data using services and data transfer enabling infrastructure is creating an often neglected problem, especially in lesser developed countries. In Austria mobile 4G data packages are available at dumping prices while in developing countries a 500 MB Internet package costs up to 30% of the respective GDP and is therefore not affordable for 70% of the population (Source: Alliance for Affordable Internet for All). Thus, a large proportion of humanity is denied access to rapid technological progress, and also the opportunities and information potential it holds.

The term ‘digital divide’ describes the unequal access opportunities of different population groups to information and communication technologies – national, regional and international – and the subsequent imbalance of opportunities.

With digitalization having more and more impact on all areas of life and holding great potential for the further development of western countries as business locations, the situation in countries with no infrastructure combined with huge economic and social challenges gets more challenging.

Despite all adversities, digital entrepreneurs around the world are proving that these digital and infrastructural gaps can be reduced by creatively using existing resources and the courage to fight social disadvantages. For example, the Sudanese project oPerception, which supports blind people in object recognition with an offline AI app, or Malaysia’s Foreign Workers Centralized Management System, which facilitates bilateral integration and migration.

While the start-up center Silicon Valley dictates headlines of tech start-ups at the billion dollar end of the scale, our increasingly connected world has sprouted a number of other thriving start-up hubs, sometimes in places you’d not expect to find them. With a focus on using available resources and finding ways around missing infrastructure to solve local challenges, not the way of the fastest and biggest profit, digital innovation is able to demonstrate immense transformative power. The creative use of digital applications and the courage to fight social disadvantages provides a huge social impact in many regions of the world, providing a unique opportunity of learning from the margins.

A look on the margins instead of the center pays off and offers manifold learning opportunities. To provide this global overview of digital social entrepreneurs with a focus on big societal impact, the World Summit Award with its global network selects and connects the most creative entrepreneurs using digital innovation for a benefit to society – and that in over 180 countries. In March 20.-22., 2018, digital innovations with transformative power from over 80 countries will be presented at the WSA Global Congress in Vienna and present once more how digitalization in combination with the spirit of innovation makes it possible to bridge the gap between the digital divide – beyond the scope of Silicon Valley’s giants.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

ILO’s Bureau for Employers´Activities to publish new study on women in business and management

MEPs adopt revised rules for road haulage operations in another EU country

Cholera surges, children in urgent need one month after Cyclone Idai slammed southern Africa – UNICEF

MEPs adopt new Fisheries Partnership with Morocco including Western Sahara

‘World’s deadliest sea crossing’ claimed six lives a day in 2018: UN refugee agency

Commission issues guidance on the participation of third country bidders in the EU procurement market

Draghi to lay his print on long term ECB policies prior to exiting next year

MEPs to grill Frontex director on agency’s role in pushbacks of asylum-seekers

Inequality in the delivery of health services

‘New tech’ business model threatens decent work conditions, warns UN

Risks rising in corporate debt market

Is euro to repeat its past highs with the dollar?

These are the countries with the highest inflation

Islamophobia is driving more US Muslims to become politically engaged, suggests report

5 ways to go green in your own kitchen

This is what different countries are doing to stop coronavirus from spreading

Central Asia: the European Union matches political commitment with further concrete support

Data and the future of financial services

UN agency chief calls Ethiopia’s revised refugee law ‘one of most progressive’ in Africa

An electric motorbike could help tackle big game poaching. Here’s how

The relation of deforestation and respiratory diseases

Central Mali: Top UN genocide prevention official sounds alarm over recent ethnically-targeted killings

How women are transforming the Arab world’s start-up scene

Fifth-generation cyberattacks are here. How can the IT industry adapt?

Terrorist content online should be removed within one hour, says EP

MEPs: Access to adequate housing should be a fundamental European right

FROM THE FIELD: Faces and Voices of Conflict

Why the world is not as globalized as you think

Solidarity Fund: €823 million in EU aid for eight member states

Coronavirus: the truth against the myths

A Sting Exclusive: EU Commission’s Vice President Šefčovič accentuates the importance of innovation to EU’s Energy Union

Trade: EU and 16 WTO members agree to work together on an interim appeal arbitration arrangement

Draghi’s negative interest rates help Eurozone’s cohesion

Gender Science: A sneaky healthcare risk factor

Stage set for successful 2020 Burundi elections, Foreign Minister tells General Assembly

Use space technology to build a better world for all, urges UN chief

‘Preserve, revitalize and promote’ indigenous languages, or lose a ‘wealth of traditional knowledge’, UN chief says

HPV vaccine: the silver bullet that saves women

Top UN officials sound alarm as Yemen fighting nears vital hospital in port city of Hudaydah

The city of Quito just made commuting quicker and safer

These 4 Nordic countries hold the secret to gender equality

Jo Cox’s murderer believed the ‘leave’ campaign leaders that the ‘remain’ vote is treason

Dangers of poor quality health care revealed ‘in all countries’: WHO report

Catalan Pro-Independence vote: how many hits can Brussels sustain at the same time?

In wake of ‘collapsed’ agreement, new wave of violence threatens millions in Syria’s Idlib

LGBTQI+ and medicine

Why carbon capture could be the game-changer the world needs

Christmas spending: Who can afford not to cut?

Promoting Health in the Brazilian Amazon: one nation but many cultures

Tropical Cyclone Idai affects 1.5 million across Mozambique and Malawi, as UN ramps up response

How young people can help respond to the coronavirus outbreak

The Great Reset requires FinTechs – and FinTechs require a common approach to cybersecurity

How curiosity and globalization are driving a new approach to travel

Political consensus critical ahead of Somalia election: UN mission chief

MEPs call for sanctions against Turkey over military operation in Syria

Will technology connect or divide us? The challenge for leaders in Globalization 4.0

COVID-19 threatens the developing world’s small businesses. This is how to save them

Is the ECB ready to flood Eurozone with freshly printed money?

EU–US: What is the real exchange in a Free Trade Agreement?

The world needs a circular economy. Help us make it happen

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s