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How Mobile Phones Are Driving Business and Social Impact

If you look around and think everyone has a mobile phone, you’re right. There are almost as many mobile subscriptions (6.8 billion) as there are people in the world (7.1 billion), according to the International Telecommunication Union.

Even in developing countries, the mobile penetration rate (the number of mobile phone numbers within a specific population) is 89 percent. Between 2011 to 2016, the number of mobile phones in Africa is expected to double from 500 million to 1 billion–nearly the entire population. But how are we all using our mobile phones?

What we’re learning is that a mobile phone can transform someone’s life, especially for underserved populations and/or those living in remote locations. They enable financial inclusion for the 1.8 billion people with access to a phone but not a bank. They provide farmers with information on market prices and weather reports, and they link micro and small entrepreneurs to markets and potential buyers. And, they provide mothers with important information to keep themselves and their children healthy. All this relevant and actionable information is getting to people who aren’t able to access this type of information via the Internet or in person.

Belinda and her child never fell sick during and after her pregnancy, thanks to messages that she received that told her about proper nutrition and exclusive breastfeeding. Photo courtesy Grameen Foundation

Belinda and her child never fell sick during and after her pregnancy, thanks to messages that she received that told her about proper nutrition and exclusive breastfeeding. Photo courtesy Grameen Foundation

But we’re also learning that organizations — large, for-profit corporations and small, nonprofit social enterprises alike — are using mobile technology to operate better and smarter. Organizations are using mobile phones to gather real-time data that help them make informed business decisions and that yield social impact.

Let me introduce you to two organizations that have developed innovative technology tools that are driving this double bottom line business and social impact.

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Business Innovation Meets Social Transformation at the United Nations

May 28, 2013 at 4:23 pm PST

Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is one of the sponsors of the Social Innovation Summit (SIS) at the United Nations in New York City this week. The summit connects global leaders in the corporate, investment, government, and nonprofit sectors and helps them collaborate to multiply the positive impact they can make in the world. The agenda includes presentations and discussions on key strategies and best practices for creating social transformation.

Cisco’s approach to creating positive social change has long involved collaboration with our partners and peers. By combining the power of human and technology networks, Cisco multiplies impact and helps accomplish extraordinary things, even under the most difficult circumstances.

 

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Work and Learning in a Digital World

Across the globe, business, government, and social structures are buffeted by sweeping generational change, technological innovation, and the emergence of new economic development models.

Although these forces differ by geography, they provide opportunities for social innovation, community engagement, economic growth, sustainability, and country transformation.

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Putting a Human Face on Big Data at the Social Innovation Summit

December 4, 2012 at 7:28 am PST

Today, everyone at Cisco is excited about the release of a new book — “The Human Face of Big Data” by Rick Smolan, a former Time, Life, and National Geographic photographer best known as the creator of the “Day in the Life” book series.

Cisco is a sponsor of the Human Face of Big Data Project, which also inlcudes a “Data Detectives” youth program and a smart phone application that allows users to compare their answers to questions about health, family, dating, dreams and more to 3 million other people around the world.

The book captures in photographs, essays, and infographics how the real-time collection, analysis, and visualization of vast amounts of information is enabling people to address some of the world’s biggest challenges.

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San Francisco Bay Area’s Pioneers—Linking Technology and Public Policy

One of the best things about my job at CISCO is the opportunity to work with innovators in government, business, the independent sector, and nonprofits and examine the problems of urban communities in new ways.

Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of supporting the launch of a new civic presence in our hometown of San Jose that does this very well: the San Jose office of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, SPUR San Jose. Read More »

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