Technology For Good: Creating a Brighter Tomorrow
Reflections from the Arm team after witnessing UNICEF's work in action in Kenya
Original blogs were written by Ian Ferguson, Vice President of Worldwide Marketing at ARM, Will Abbey, General Manager at ARM’s Physical Design Group and Christy-Ann Newman, Senior Counsel at ARM Holdings
ARM in partnership with UNICEF Innovation visited Kenya in late June, to witness UNICEF’s work in action and explore how technology can be part of the solution. Read the compelling reflections of the ARM team, on what they saw, what they’ve realized and how technology-driven solutions can create a meaningful difference to children’s lives.
Imagine you are a fifteen-year-old girl living in Lodwar, Turkana County, Kenya, with three younger siblings and one day you wake up and your parents have abandoned you. You are left to look after not only yourself but also your siblings. You are now the head of the family. Where do you turn next? Who can you rely on? Who can you trust?
These were the circumstances that staff from ARM learnt about on their recent trip to Kenya.
In Turkana, the second largest county in Kenya, home to around 1.3m people, ARM staff visited a local school in the morning and spent the afternoon at the Lodwar County Referral Hospital. The region is one of fifteen counties with the highest maternal deaths burden and UNICEF is improving access to maternal and neonatal health services in the community.
“I initially walked away from the hospital that afternoon with a sense of helplessness, thinking this is not a tech problem but one about money and education. How can I help?
Upon reflection, however, technology definitely has the potential to contribute. If we can drive costs down and create solutions at scale, it can play an important part in addressing some of the problems faced by the people of Turkana.”
UNICEF and ARM have already established projects that create solutions to reduce the inequalities that children face around the world. SoaPen, for example, the joint winner of ARM, UNICEF and frog’s Wearables for Good Challenge, encourages children to wash their hands thoroughly and Khushi Baby, the other joint winner, is a data storing necklace that provides personal immunization records for children via NFC technology.
Will noted that both these devices could be used to help the children of Turkana.
“SoaPen could be made available and maybe even adapted for use in the hospital for visitors and patients to prevent the spread of diseases and the use of Khushi Baby could be extended to incorporate GPS technology to enable child location detection. This would allow in-field community visitation to take place for follow-up care.”
The group also visited Mukuru, an informal settlement on the outskirts of Nairobi where around 700,000 people live. Every day, residents in Mukuru face numerous challenges – from finding clean water and electricity to the frequent outbreak of fires, all while being denied their basic rights.
Seeing these problems first hand, Ian Ferguson Vice President of Worldwide Marketing at ARM, shared a few areas where technology can be part of the solution.
- Sensor Technology – Given the density of the community, the response to fires is very slow. Sensors are starting to be deployed to detect the specific location of a fire in order to help people evacuate in the right direction and assist the local responders in minimizing the impact of the fire. Simple hardware connected via LoRa technology to a local base station is currently making this possible but there is huge potential to broaden the conditions that sensors can detect, such as monitoring the air quality in the homes where people live and the quality of the water that they drink.
- SMS Technology – UNICEF country offices and partners launched the U-Report, a social messaging tool enabling the youth to voice out their opinions, report problems and respond to polls on issues they care about in their communities. Results from the U-Report can then used to inform decision makers to make positive changes.
Commenting on his experience, Ian Ferguson added: “At the end of the day, use cases should drive technology. Not technology driving the use cases. I believe it comes down to people. We need to provide technology so that children living in Lodwar can pursue anything they want in their life.
“Through their partnership with UNICEF, ARM is working to help achieve this goal; to ‘Innovate with Impact’ and unleash the power of technology to transform the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children, like those we met in Kenya. To date this has included, launching the Wearables for Good challenge, of whom Khushi Baby and SoaPen were the winners, and funding the scale up of the U-Report App.”
Carrying back countless stories and experiences, the trip concluded with stronger partnerships and empowered future opportunities. ARM and UNICEF aims to further advance their efforts on identifying, prototyping and scaling technologies that do good – for a better, brighter tomorrow.