A little over ten years ago, Steve Jobs stood on stage in California and introduced what he described as “a revolutionary mobile phone”. But it was clear, once he got to the real reveal, that this was a breakthrough internet communications device.
Few would have imagined this was just the start of the mobile revolution, paving the way for a very different world to that of even a decade ago. Since then we’ve been on a journey which includes 3G, 4G and hundreds of new businesses being created through various apps. Now we’re on the cusp of something even bigger, partly enabled by the imminent arrival of 5G, which is opening up a whole new world of opportunities (literally).
It’s a changing world and enhanced connectivity is opening up new ways of solving some of the world’s biggest issues-from lack of access to banking facilities to the influx of unreported crimes. Here are three examples, starting with a pop-up network that helps in times of crisis.
Pop-up disaster response
While technology continues to entertain us, it can also help to solve some of earth’s most serious challenges.
This year alone, we’ve seen countries on all sides of the globe battered by hurricanes and tsunamis, wild fires cut their way across huge swathes of land, and shifting tectonic plates bursting volcanoes sent tremors coursing through communities.
Communication is key to providing first responders in these circumstances with the situational awareness they need to do their jobs. Often they’re faced with little more than chaos – which is exacerbated by the destruction such disasters can reap on communication infrastructure.
Packing down to the size of an 11kg backpack, and deployable by non-technical staff in as little as 10 minutes, our mobile pop-up network can provide coverage in an instant. Rescue workers, affected families and those directing actions on the ground can all benefit from open lines of communication.
So far, our dedicated team of 70 volunteers has been deployed in 11 disaster situations – making a vital contribution to often life-saving efforts.
Money on the move
And while Steve Jobs was starting his mobile revolution in California a decade ago, we were in Africa introducing our own.
Millions of people and small businesses on the continent back then still didn’t have access to banking services – making it difficult to make and receive payments and maintain their finances.
M-Pesa, our pioneering mobile money service, would change that. It’s a secure service that allows purchases to be made via mobile phone networks, reducing reliance on cash and dependence on access to a traditional bank account.
The service is now available in 10 countries, empowering 29 million people across the continent to pay for goods and services with their handsets. And beyond just convenience, it’s enabling small business owners and farmers to build up the accounting history they need to secure accounts and loans with banks – helping them grow their operations and secure their futures.
A vital support system
TecSOS supports some of the most vulnerable people in our societies.
In the UK, it’s estimated that one in four women will experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime. However, it’s also suggested that the true figure should be higher, given the fact that many such crimes go unreported. Victims report feeling like prisoners in their own homes, frightened to send messages or make calls for help. And sometimes these abuses end in death.
TecSOS provides at-risk individuals with a specially adapted piece of technology that gives victims of domestic violence enhanced access to the police. When triggered, the device sends an alert to police and begins recording. The police are provided with the TecSOS user’s case history and location, and emergency services can be dispatched in response.
The system is currently in use by more than 90% of UK police forces, protecting and supporting more than 81,000 people. Outside of the UK, TecSOS has been deployed in Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Ireland and Germany.