Technology has continuously transformed our society. It has changed the way we communicate, learn, and think. And let me add an honorable mention to 2020, where these changes have been particularly abrupt, as we adapted to a new reality where remote work, social distance, and lockdown became part of our lives (Collins Dictionary even nominated “lockdown” the word of the year!).
And throughout the times, a lot has been written and discussed about the impact of technology on our society, both the good and the bad (and the ugly—sorry, I couldn’t resist). We know technology is addictive (we all watch the Social Dilemma, right?), and if used unethically, it can threaten privacy and security. To a bigger extent, technology can even foster inequality between different continents and even within the same country.
But it’s also indisputable that technology innovation has brought major welfare gains. The progress in healthcare has provided us with better and longer lives. Education and access to information has been democratized and is now available a few clicks away. Automation and IoT in the work field increased productivity and income. Even the quality of leisure has been enhanced.
The truth is, technology on its own is neither good nor bad. It’s what we do with it that determines its positive or negative value.
I’ve been working at OutSystems for a few years, and have been mesmerized with the impact of projects from some of our customers. In this article, I’ll share those stories to show you the true power of technology through companies that have been transforming the world into something a bit better and to show that even the smallest projects can make a big difference.
Americares is a health-focused relief and development organization that responds to people affected by poverty or disaster with life-changing health programs, medicine and medical supplies. When disasters strike, Americares sends in emergency response teams to work with local partners. These partners are best placed to distribute medicine and other supplies to people who need them most.
To better coordinate the logistics associated with these emergency response efforts, Americares used OutSystems to build a mobile app with offline capabilities to manage shipments and orders. The app receives shipment information and it’s connected with other APIs and partners to share that information with them. Here’s the full story:
Mercy Ships is an international charity that deploys hospital ships to some of the world’s poorest countries, delivering vital, free healthcare to people in desperate need. In recent years, the charity has had one hospital ship in service called “Africa Mercy”. But early in 2021, the organization will launch the world's first purpose-built civilian hospital ship, "Global Mercy", with more than doubling the charity's surgical and training capacity.
Recruitment—which was already a global year-round effort—needed to scale to 3,500 volunteers annually. The charity will need to process over 7,000 applications annually to crew both ships fully. To achieve this goal, Mercy Ships had two main objectives: improve the application experience for candidates and streamline the review and selection process for recruiters.
So, Mercy Ships built a new system that ensures the application review process flows seamlessly from application initiation to application approval or rejection. Instead of sending documents to various parties via email, application submissions and reviews now advance automatically, step-by-step within the portal, ensuring that all requirements are met before a volunteer's application advances to the next stage. Mercy Ships now provides volunteers and staff members with faster, more productive, and enjoyable user experiences and can process volunteer applications more efficiently. All of which helps their mission to deliver more vital, free healthcare to people in desperate need. Read the full story here and take a look at the video below.
Make-a-Wish is a nonprofit organization that helps fulfill the wishes of children with a critical illness between the ages of 3 and 18 years-old.
With children being often online, Make-a-Wish was on a mission to become the most digital charity in the Netherlands. So, with OutSystems, the organization developed the Wish Journey app that allows children to follow the preparations of their wishes each day and involve friends and family.
Apps for Good Portugal
Apps for Good is an international technological educational program that challenges students and teachers to create technology solutions for smartphones and tablets that solve a social problem related to sustainability.
Through an online platform, students and teachers have the support and mentorship of a network of volunteer experts from several companies to help them build their solutions. The program helps students develop several soft skills, such as critical thinking, leadership and teamwork and it introduces new teaching methodologies and technology to teachers while promoting solutions that solve sustainability issues. Over the last six years, more than 450 schools, 1100 teachers and 13.080 students have experienced the Apps for Good program that is now in its 7th edition. The program was even awarded by UNESCO for its innovative approach to teacher performance and effectiveness.
Using OutSystems, CDI Portugal—NGO responsible for the operations of Apps for Good in Portugal—recently launched a new platform, available in Portuguese and English. The platform allows students, teachers and experts to access the several available learning courses, and provides a collaborative environment, where the several participants can share documents, communicate via chat and monitor the project’s progress.
Technology has a tremendous power to change our lives and promote a more equal and sustainable world. At OutSystems, we’re on a mission to give every organization the power to innovate through software, and being able to provide a platform and solutions for nonprofits to digitize their work and increase their outreach and impact, plays a big part of why we do what we do.