The Role of Technology in Addressing World Problems
Different problems are plaguing the world today, although issues are not experienced in the same magnitude from one part of the world to the other. Problems like poverty, high population rate, communication barrier, and illiteracy are prevalent in many nations, especially in the developing world (Haas, Criscuolo, & George, 2015). For many countries, there remains the question of how they will help their people out of the problems they are undergoing. The solution cannot be achieved locally for problems such as climate change because they are global in nature.
Experts have recommended using technology as the solution for the major problems affecting the world. In fact, the main hurdles in the growth and development process have been resolved using the emerging technologies, but there has not been any effective solution to the world problems. In fact, the argument may be based on the fact that there is probably no technology that has ever achieved a global reach (Pfitzer, Bockstette, & Stamp, 2013). However, it is undeniable that the mobile technology is currently achieving the kind of potential for a global reach than any other technology in the past.
The increasing acceptance of the mobile phones enables greater reach of the global populations, which plays an important role in addressing most of their pressing problems. The devices are assisting in eliminating some of the persistent problems experienced by global communities. The development of mobile technology has proven to be a breakthrough in addressing the global difficulties, including reducing communication barriers, which is the genesis of other problems. The technology creates networks for communicating and sharing information so that solutions are achieved within the global communities (Pfitzer, Bockstette, & Stamp, 2013). Therefore, this research aims to establish the potential of mobile technology in addressing world problems.
The study is a secondary one, which means the data was collected from published information. The research was carried out by collecting information and data from journals and websites, especially from reliable agencies such as Pew and News. Data available from these sources was gathered and analyzed to provide the findings of the research paper.
The sources used for the research were accessed from online databases. Journals, especially in which primary studies were published, provided critical information for the research. The data, including supporting charts, were obtained from such sources. The analysis of the primary data already published in the journals and the websites revealed the importance of the mobile technology in solving world problems. Information on the acceptance rates of the technology also formed an important part of the report.
By the close of the 20th century, 50% of the global community had not communicated using a cell phone, or they had to go for hours to find one to communicate. Just years after, mobile phones are in use worldwide and in the most innovative ways of communicating and empowering the people globally (Haas, Criscuolo, & George, 2015).
The estimates by Mobile carrier industry alliance (GSMA) show that there are currently about 7.5 billion mobile connections globally. The same agency estimates that there are 3.7 billion unique subscribers of mobile technology internationally (Gurman, Rubin, & Roess, 2012).
Africa alone is estimated to have more than 695 million subscriptions to cell phones. In fact, the continent has a rate of penetration of mobile phone by 65%. In most African countries, such as South Africa, the penetration rate is about 100% (van Stam, 2012). The young population of Africa accounts for the readiness to adopt mobile technology.
Currently, landlines are no longer common in the developing world today. However, almost two-thirds of households in the United States still have the landlines. The Pew Research Center has revealed the popularity of cell phones in Africa, taking the cases of South Africa and Nigeria, just as it is the case in the United States (Wike & Oates, 2014). It is estimated that in the two countries, approximately 90 % of adults have cell phones.
Research has revealed that cell phones are gadgets with the capacity to call, text, and probably basic browsing of the Internet. The Pew report shows that, on average, 17% of individuals in Sub-Saharan Africa might not own cell phones, but they sometimes access the services (Wike & Oates, 2014) (see figure below).
Smartphones have a greater capability, although they are still an emerging technology. However, a significant minority in various parts of the world own or have access to the smartphones. The phones are common in countries like Chile, Lebanon, Jordan, and China. Besides smartphones, most people have access to the conventional cell phones and even the Internet (Wike & Oates, 2014) (see the figure below).
It is worth noting that throughout the world, people use these devices for various purposes, including conversations, texting, video chatting, and taking photos. There are others who use their phones to access information on politics, business, health, and education (Wike & Oates, 2014). In this case, mobile technology is transforming the social and economic lives of many people across the world, including in the developing countries.
A case in point in the use of mobile technology to solve world problems is the adoption of mobile health. Research by PricewaterhouseCoopers has revealed that Kenya and South Africa are the leaders in the use of mobile technology. Mostly, the technology is used to create awareness among the people on their health needs and possible solutions. The M-Ubuntu project has capitalized on the access to mobile phones to create awareness and support education for the developing nations (Gurman, Rubin, & Roess, 2012). The project has been using mobile devices to support under-resourced teachers and assist matriculants.
In a relatively short period, mobile technology has penetrated the world. In fact, the technology has become a significant part of the lives of the people and a platform for globalization for both the developed and developing nations. Cell phones are almost omnipresent in almost all countries as revealed in the analyzed data.
The current generation is actually a mobile generation, and change has not been evident anywhere else like in the unparalleled growth of the mobility, capacity, affordability, as well as accessibility of mobile technology (Pfitzer, Bockstette & Stamp, 2013). The acceptance of the change is something that can be easily taken advantage of in building resources capable of supporting the lives of the people globally.
When it comes to the use of mobile phones, it is not simply about being connected but having a purpose for the connections. In this case, the drive is based on solving the most pressing global problems. In 2010, when an earthquake hit Haiti, a lot of financial support was received using mobile phones.
However, this is not the primary possibility of using the mobile phones; the real prospect is their use to solve the world problems (Gurman, Rubin, & Roess, 2012). Mobile phones are being used for a greater purpose, including monitoring global warming, taking photos of the degrading nature due to human actions, and performing blood analysis, among other uses. In essence, the application of mobile technology promises more positive outcomes in most parts of life.
The possibilities offered by mobile technologies are transforming the face of global development. Given the reality that mobile technology reaches such numbers of people worldwide, it has the potential to solve the world’s problems (Stam, 2012). With the potential of the mobile technology, it is possible to connect with individuals in any part of the world, giving them the sense of future they need.
The capability of the mobile technology to resolve the problems facing the world today is evident considering the reality that mobile phones are accessed from all parts of the world (van Stam, 2012). From education health to social problems, the technology can change people’s lives worldwide by making them better.
The reality is that the technology is being used in all sectors with a capacity to change the lives of millions of people. Access to technology is changing how people look at their problems and provide them the means to work towards changing their situations (Bijker et al., 2012). The technology is transforming the way people receive education and learning.
The mobile mania has spread all over the world, not simply because the mobile phone is a communication tool, but because it is a tool for access to education, information, entertainment, health information, and banking services (Gurman, Rubin & Roess, 2012). The technology has empowered the people as it has never happened in the past.
The modern technology has allowed equity within the developing information age. The reality is that many of the problems facing the world, especially the developing nations, are all based on the lack of equity. Indeed, the capacity building, equity in opportunity, socio-economic equity, gender equity, and human equity are some of the problems experienced in the developing world (Gurman, Rubin & Roess, 2012).
It is evident that in dealing with the problems associated with equity, the 21st century requires the use of ICTs to benefit the locals all over the world (Pfitzer, Bockstette, & Stamp, 2013). In fact, the dire need of the people to use the technology is evident in the way they have accepted and adopted mobile phones, especially in the developing nations.
The greatest potential for the mobile technology is in addressing the problem of equity in developing nations. The emerging states make up about half of the entire world population. By helping these people to attain equity, the problems of the entire world will almost be completely resolved (Gurman, Rubin, & Roess, 2012). In essence, using the technology to deal with the problems affecting these individuals will go a long way in dealing with the world problems.
Conclusion and Recommendations
No other technology has been accepted in the world at the same rate as the mobile technology. Thus, the technology stands a better chance than any other invention to address the challenges and provide opportunities to change the lives of people worldwide. The technology has the chance to capitalize on the cultural as well as social aspects of the people in addressing inequality, even in the developing countries (Bijker et al., 2012).
While mobile phones appear to have the potential to change the world by solving the most complicated problems, the solution is not that simple. In fact, it is very difficult to achieve using the mobile technology in a non-profit manner. The idea is not just a solution based on technology. The real remedy can only be achieved by transforming the business models and changing the cultures of the users across the globe.
Success will also be achieved by transforming the operational models. Therefore, the aspect of collaboration is necessary to harness the potential of the mobile technology. It is time for all the stakeholders to come together and figure out how the technology will be useful in dealing with the issues affecting different parts of the world. It is important to consider the way there has not been any technology which has reached and solved the problem of all the six billion individuals globally. However, there is a possibility that mobile technology is out to achieve this. While the technology can have a great impact towards the life of the people, it is only through working together to establish the most effective model that will achieve positive results.
The mobile technology has the greatest potential to change the world today. However, people worldwide have to put effort because the devices cannot work independently. Thus, individuals with diverse expertise have to come together to discuss the world problems with the aim of getting the necessary solutions. Indeed, to optimize the answers promised by the mobile technologies, there is need to make the more efforts to address social needs and the means of achieving them. In essence, discussing the technology alone will not help in dealing with the global issues, thus the need to emphasize outcomes. Therefore, it is imperative to bring together the impact of investors and social entrepreneurs to capitalize on their inputs.
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Gurman, T. A., Rubin, S. E., & Roess, A. A. (2012). The effectiveness of mHealth behavior change communication interventions in developing countries: a systematic review of the literature. Journal of health communication, 17(sup1), 82-104.
Haas, M. R., Criscuolo, P., & George, G. (2015). Which problems to solve? Online knowledge sharing and attention allocation in organizations. Academy Of Management Journal, 58(3), 680-711. doi:10.5465/amj.2013.0263
Pfitzer, M., Bockstette, V., & Stamp, M. (2013). Innovating for shared value. Harvard Business Review, 91(9), 100-107.
Wike, R., & Oates, R. (2014). Emerging nations embrace Internet, mobile technology: Cell phones nearly ubiquitous in many countries. Pew Research Center, Washington DC Available online at: http://www. pewglobal. org/2014/02/13/emerging-nations-embrace-internet-mobile-technology.
van Stam, G. (2012, October). Is technology the solution to the world’s major Social Challenges?. In Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC), 2012 IEEE (pp. 429-441). IEEE.