Disruptive Technology for Disadvantaged Communities
I first heard about Affecting Change International a little over two years ago. I was talking with David Neely, President and CEO, about his upcoming trip to New York to speak at the Infopoverty World Conference at the UN. As a technology leader for the past decade, I was intrigued by the thought of using technology to address the problem of poverty in disadvantaged communities. I knew that David Neely had spent 11 years living in Kenya and was familiar with the needs of disadvantaged communities in that region. However, I was skeptical and needed to hear more.
Last year, David invited me into his office to explain more about what ACI was doing. He told me about all the work that had gone into developing the LifeBox Container for classroom instruction. He described how the LifeBox would be solar powered and could be used to charge cell phones in remote areas. It could also potentially connect with cellular networks to create a Wi-Fi hotspot. My mind went straight to the possibilities for technology, and I knew I had to get involved.
In the two years since I first heard about ACI, the world of technology has changed dramatically. My field of cloud computing has revolutionized how computer networks are built and technology is consumed. Instead of having to purchase servers and put them in an expensive data center, it is now possible to access technology on an as-needed basis as a service. Costs are coming down rapidly, and in many cases are free as companies like Google are looking for more users for their advertising platforms. At the same time, hardware costs are coming down rapidly because of the Android platform and emerging vendors in China. Over the next several years, these disruptive technologies have the potential to dramatically improve opportunities for disadvantaged communities.
I believe that LifeBox is the missing element that will bring together all the necessary technology pieces. It could act as a hub of activity in these disadvantaged communities for both education and commerce. I am excited about the potential for ACI to have a real, measurable impact on communities. To succeed, these communities will need to embrace the technology and take ownership. That is why I think the ACI tagline is so appropriate: Helping Disadvantaged Communities Learn to Help Themselves.