Exploring new tech for the social good - Beijing Charity NGO Technology salon, China's first Netsquared Camp Nov. 10

Matt Jung
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Over 60 participants gathered for the first Beijing Charity NGO Technology salon! Geeks, NGOs, technologists, and foundations came to listen about some new innovative technology ideas, and shared quite a few of their own on this brisk sunny Sunday afternoon. NGO 2.0's own Jianbo Li did some awesome moderating, facilitating speakers and questions and keeping us on schedule. Oracle China's Developer Community provided a couple great meeting rooms in the heart of the Central Business District. 

We started just shortly after 2p and listened intently through these case studies of new ideas and recent projects:

  • The PM 2.5 Emotion project - this app allows users to vote their guesses of the current Air Quality Index (AQI), a daily data point for many living in polluted areas. They can see how close they are to the actual measurement, and the AQIs have emotional graphics ranging from 'happily clean' to 'sickening alarming'. This enables a concerned community to share perception data.
  • Cair enables users to donate as little as 1 jiao (CNY 0.1) to contribute to an air improvement quality project. Users can see how the microdonations are contributing toward the campaign target, as an intelligent photo becomes clearer closer to the target. Once reached, a sponsoring bank will make a matching donation.
  • Cycloud uses a combination of cloud tech and a mini electric bicycle-powered charger to power smart devices.
  • Education on Africa social networks - Dr. Math enables on-demand math tutoring via SMS, between students and volunteer teachers, on one of Africa's leading social networks Mxit.com, which has over 50MM users, many on cheap feature phones. Also Siyavula, on mxit.com, has both videos and 1000s of practice questions that have been developed in editing 'hackathons' by teachers and volunteers.
  • www.blendspace.com enables organizing of online lessons in a few minutes, by sharing web and video resources, built-in quizzes, tools to assess students and track progress. Online lessons can be accessed with any web browser on a pc or mobile device.

The audience eventually grew bolder in asking questions. But after the break, the crowd quickly dove into the brainstorm discussions, quickly organizing into groups and sharing impressions, questions, and ideas on how NGOs or social problems could be tackled by new technology. Each small group shared their brainstorms with the room, and most were committed to stay until after 6p (45 min after our planned 530 end time) to finish up.

Stay tuned for more event followup, as we review the surveys, translate the brainstorm ideas, edit videos and follow up with this growing community.