Everyday tech heroes: the search begins

Oxfam Innovation


Over the past year Oxfam GB’s use of technology in programmes has increased by over 60%, with our staff and partners even more keen to hear about the latest developments in tech for good.  That’s why Oxfam is partnering yet again with the UK’s leading social tech funder, the Nominet Trust, on a quest to find the 100 most inspiring social tech innovations from around the globe. Here Abigail Connolly explains why Oxfam is looking forward to getting involved and what it’s all about.

Why the NT100?

Each year, the Nominet Trust 100, or NT100, shines a spotlight on the world’s most inspiring examples of social innovation, where digital technologies have been used to tackle a significant social challenge. Since being featured in the 2015 NT100, many winners and nominees have gone on to tackle emerging social challenges, such as the geocoding system What3Words, which is now helping to track the Zika virus in the US and Cholera in Tanzania. 

While we work with ICT every day at Oxfam, being a part of the judging panel last year really helped a wide range of staff broaden their knowledge.  Highlights from last year included reading about MOM, a portable inflatable incubator for babies born in conflict zones, and Humanitarian Open Street Map’s accurate mapping system used for field workers in the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

Last year we were delighted that an Oxfam project from Somalia, delivered in partnership with UNICEF and local partner Hijra, was recognised in the top 100. This mobile phone based health promotion project in Somalia set out to improve awareness of polio prevention and control and provide items to support safe hygiene practice.

How is Oxfam involved?

As part of the judging panel, Oxfam will work alongside a group of world-leading tech companies and charities to share our thoughts on what makes a great technology project. 

A recurring theme last year was the importance of combining the most appropriate technology with an approach that is right for the context, as it’s all too easy to get excited about the latest innovation. Here at Oxfam our focus must be on how technology can help us be more effective in reducing poverty and suffering and help us answer big questions like: Who could we reach that we otherwise couldn’t? What information received or shared in the right format at the right time could change someone’s life? What networks can technology enable to help raise the voices of
marginalised people?

We’ll also be looking within Oxfam for projects to nominate – but don’t worry we won’t be allowed to judge ourselves!  The NT100 is a great opportunity for us to kick off discussions with colleagues on how to get the most out of tech for good and to help raise the profile of ICT across all parts of the organisation.

What can I do?

From today, people around the world are invited to nominate the projects that have inspired them with this short online form.

Nominations will remain open until Friday 30 September 2016.

Last year the NT100 was a diverse carnival celebration of projects: from high tech to the simplest “why didn’t I think of that” solutions. No doubt, the 2016 NT100 will be an education in not only the latest tools – but on how to apply them to make a meaningful contribution to social good.  So if you’ve heard of a great project that you think more people should know about – get nominating!

People might not pursue careers in social tech because too often technology for development can seem unrelated to the objectives of social movements, but the NT100 encourages us to think differently and hopes to inspire more individuals to use technology to make a positive difference in the world.

Read more

Read more about last year’s competition

Photo credit: Simon Rawles

Author: Abigail Connolly
Archive blog. Originally posted on Oxfam Policy & Practice.