July 22 2016By Annie Radl
The past few months have been a tumultuous time for leadership. As an American living in Britain, caught between a divisive presidential election and post-Brexit political manoeuvring, it’s easy to feel disappointed when I listen to the morning news - but actually, 86% of respondents to a recent global survey reported that the whole world is suffering from a crisis of leadership.
Lately though, I’ve had an antidote for my daily dose of disaffection: spending my days sifting through hundreds of examples of genuine leadership - heroism really. It seems a shame to keep this salve to myself when so many others are similarly affected by the leadership blues, so . . .
Introducing the Everyday Tech Heroes: people facing real problems every day, who are using the tech tools that they have - their computers and phones (in some cases their 3D printers) - to do something about them. In a cultural moment when it feels like the ‘leaders’ at the top are too elite to understand our everyday problems, we are taking a deeper look at the incredible democratising force that is digital technology - enabling everyday people to make change happen from the bottom up.
Everyday Tech Heroes is a part of the 2016 NT100 celebration - bringing you not only 100 new phenomenal social tech ventures - but also getting to know some of the everyday people behind them to understand why and how they’ve taken action. But enough with all the rhetoric; let’s see these folks.
In a recent Huffington Post blog, our Director, Vicki Hearn, pointed to ElsaMarie D’Silva, co-founder of SafeCity, as an Everyday Tech Hero from the 2015 NT100. ElsaMarie, a native of New Delhi, was working with women’s issues and women’s safety in Delhi’s public spaces when Jyoti Singh was raped on a Delhi bus, and subsequently died.
‘I got deeply involved in the issue in the aftermath of the horrific gang rape of Jyoti Singh in Delhi in December 2012. I decided to focus on making it easier for women and girls to report their experiences of sexual violence in public spaces, thus making the issue more visible and facilitating conversations around it.’
ElsaMarie took action by reaching out to her community; SafeCity was born and began crowdsourcing stories of sexual violence and harassment: ‘Since we started in Dec 2012, we have been actively mapping in India, Kenya, Nepal and Cameroon. We have close to 10,000 reports, have done workshops for over 8,000 children and adults, worked on campaigns in over 10 neighbourhoods across Delhi and Mumbai improving the lives of at least 10,000 families. We advocate and engage online audiences through Facebook and Twitter and provide volunteering opportunities for several hundred people.’
ElsaMarie is a shining example of an Everyday Tech Hero. But do you know who else is? Every woman (and man) who has used her phone and two minutes of her time to report an incident of harassment through SafeCity, helping to make her city safer for others. We want to meet and highlight the Everyday Tech Heroes who are using tech innovations - not just founding tech ventures - to make their communities and our world a better place.
We want to meet the Everyday Tech Heroes who are supporting amazing social tech ventures through their work in communications, community co-design, management, coding and more. Mostly we want to hear what made these Everyday Tech Heroes say ‘enough is enough’, and put their time and tech tools to work to do something about the problems they were experiencing. Part of including the Everyday Tech Heroes in the 2016 NT00 is to further inspire others to think, ‘I can do this too!’
Some of my favourite Everyday Tech Heroes from the 2015 NT100 are the 2,252,412 (and counting!) people from all over the world using U-Report, a social messaging tool that ‘allows anyone from any community, anywhere in the world to respond to polls, report issues, support child rights and work as positive agents of change on behalf of people in their country’. At a time when so many people do not feel heard by their official leaders, it’s heartening to see so many young people asserting that their voice matters.
And your voice matters too: If you know of an Everyday Tech Hero, someone creatively using technology to address the real problems they experience every day, then nominate their project today to be considered for the 2016 NT100. Make sure to tick the ‘Everyday Tech Hero’ box on the nomination form, so we can follow up!