NetSquared Challenge: What Will Cell Phones Do Next?
March 19, 2009, World Changing — San Francisco-based NetSquared (an initiative of TechSoup) is currently collecting entries for its fourth annual challenge. The contest helps to get social benefit projects off the ground.
Winners in the contest's first three years have included worldchanging innovations FreeCycle, MAPlight.org, and Ushahidi. This year, a total of $50,000 in prize money will be split among first-, second- and third-place winners.
The contest has shifted its focus exclusively toward innovations in mobile technology. With mobile phones in the hands of 2.2 billion people worldwide, says the NetSquared website, "mobile technology provides every day people with unprecedented computing power and an ability to share information in real-time."
Just browsing the entries in the N2Y4 Project Gallery is pretty inspiring. Here are a few standout projects in a pool of excellent work:
The HarassMap gives Egyptian women a tool for reporting incidents of sexual harassment in real time to help promote safer streets.
ClaimsMobile makes it easier for staffers in rural Ugandan clinics to keep track of medical and financial information for their patients.
Assured Labor helps match willing workers around the world with honest employers, using partnerships, referrals and ratings to provide assurance that both parties are reliable.
Fluid Nexus allows groups of people to communicate with one another in the absence of a centralized cellular network. (The team behind the project imagines it as a crucial tool for relief workers during a national disaster, which is a need that we've discussed before on Worldchanging.)
Check out the N2Y4 site to read more about projects that will use mobile phones to connect commuters with shared rides; help people in high-risk areas make sure their prescription drugs are safe; provide secure data management for journalists, researchers and witnesses, and more. You can even begin a discussion with the innovators and others by leaving a comment in the project gallery.