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Saving the world app by app..

by Jessica Ekholm  |  January 31, 2017  |  Submit a Comment

A recent discussion around apps that may help solve, or at least partially solve, social, health or environmental issues got me thinking. Over the years I have spent considerable amount of time analyzing “mhealth” apps, and health apps and currently we find that 27% of our US respondents in our latest consumer app survey used health and fitness apps on a regular basis. And there is no doubt there is a wealth of health apps about but putting those apps aside what else is out there that can help change the world around us?

So where to start? How to begin categorizing which type of app or mobile service that is the most useful? It will of course depend on the situation itself – whether it is an emergency relief app or we are talking about trying to create a better world for ourselves in the long run.. so here it goes “the very short story of a few interesting apps”..

Let’s start with money .. and I feel compelled to mention Vodafone’s mobile wallet m-pesa which has been influential since its inception in 2007. And how about micro-finance entrepreneurs such as Tala Mobile helping people access micro loans to become entrepreneurs.

Food – we waste a huge amount of food in developed countries and while countries such as France have created a country ban on food wastage, local food banks are creating innovative ways for consumers to be charitable, for example the Food bank app that help alert users to which type of food that is needed by local food banks. And to reduce household wastage there are apps such as Food Rescue that helps users from wasting food. While we are on topic of food – ethics is, for some, consumers becoming increasingly important, understanding where food is coming from (is it actually organic? is it local? is it GMO?) apps such as Buycott, WWF and Seafood Watch are just a few examples helping consumers making more informed buying decisions.

While we are on green initiatives, allGreenup help users lead an environmentally friendlier lifestyle, where participants are encouraged to take small actions to take better care of the environment and are rewarded, as a result. The business organizations, considered program partners, offer the rewards. While the GiveO2 helps users track and offset part of their carbon foot print. Home automation and home energy management apps could also be part of green initiatives as it helps users waste less energy such as Nest. Furthermore, car pooling apps such as BlaBla car has the potential to reduce carbon footprint from cars as more people are sharing car rides.

Other interesting ones is HTC’s “Power To Give” where users offer spare processing power to scientific projects when the phone is in idle mode.  Or what about Starcut which developed Slowdown GPS app in co-operation with If Insurance and Forsman & Bodenfors. Slowdown GPS is a regular navigation application, but the guidance voice changes to kid’s voice whenever you drive near a school or kindergarten or in an area where there a plenty of kids.

This was just a very quick snapshot of these type of apps and I will continue exploring these over the coming months. In the meantime why not check out these reports…  Market Insight: Disruptive Macro Trends for 2025 — Smart Social Citizens Shape Digital Society and User Survey Analysis: Mobile Apps, U.S., U.K. and China, 2016

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Jessica Ekholm
Research Director
17 years at Gartner
19 years IT Industry

Jessica Ekholm works as a Research Director and leads the Key Initiative "Enhance the Technology and Service Provider Customer Experience." She focuses on personal digital services, connected home, mobile apps and disruptive players in the market. She works closely with service providers, device and network infrastructure providers, and app ecosystem players. Read Full Bio




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