Creating a better world through apps: the power of mobile in catalyzing networks for good


I was recently invited to attend the presentations and awards for the Vodafone App Aid competition and to interview Guy Kawasaki, who was one of the event’s judges.

App Aid selected 10 charities who saw the need for a mobile app. App developers signed up for teams that developed apps from scratch in 48 hours for each of the charities. The winning teams received prizes to help them complete and launch their apps. The video below shows brief snippets from the winners.

What struck me while I was watching the charities’ presentations was that the underlying premise of almost all the apps was connecting resources to where they can do the most good.

If we look at the world today there is so much need, and also so many resources that can help those needs. This is fundamentally a network issue – how do we create the right connections to bring resources and needs together?

The rise of mobile networks and apps provides us with extraordinarily enhanced capabilities in doing this.

My personal favorite app was from OzHarvest, which “rescues excess food which would otherwise be discarded. This excess food is distributed to charities supporting the vulnerable.” It delivers over 440,000 meals to the needy each month, putting to good use food that would otherwise be wasted.

The OzHarvest app simply allows restaurant managers to easily and quickly indicate when surplus food was available and how it could be picked up. Making it easier for them to do this as they close for the night, instead of asking them to sit at a computer or make a phone call, means food is far less likely to be wasted, and more likely to go to hungry people.

Another fabulous example was Givit: “We connect those that have, with those that need – We are an online matching service connecting you to trusted charities.” Essentially people who have things they want to give away, can find out which charities want them, and charities can ask for the things that will make a difference to their community.

Giving often goes to waste because it doesn’t go to where it is needed. In the case of Givit, providing an app makes it far easier for people to find where their contributions will make the most impact or find what is needed, and makes it easier for charities to share what they need.

In both cases, and in almost all the apps showcased, mobile apps are an amazingly powerful tool for bridging the network connections that create the most value.

Creating a world in which resources are well matched with needs is an extraordinary dream. Yet we are able to do that far better than ever before, through connecting people and organizations wherever they are. The power of mobile in catalyzing networks for good is immense. Let’s see what can be done.