Information technology has seen its share of success stories over the years. Okay, we might be understating things a bit, as IT has played a crucial role in everything from reducing urban congestion to even saving lives.
It’s worth taking note of the positive ways that the global rise and evolution of tech and IT has transformed society. More importantly, it’s humbling and inspiring to realize the impact of our work as IT pros. Here are some of our favorite ways IT has impacted countless lives.
1. Grassroots Movements
Many modern grassroots movements incorporate IT as part of their very structure. For instance, the European migrant crisis triggered a grassroots effort that developed through social media. As a result, thousands of refugees have been supplied with life-saving medicine, food, and clothing.
IT has given a global voice to those who previously didn’t have one. Through the use of bottom-up rather than top-down decision making, grassroots movements aim to solve important problems and injustices which might otherwise go unnoticed. There are currently worldwide grassroots movements focusing on sustainable consumption, environmental responsibility, and political issues, just to name a few.
The ability to remotely address medical needs serves several important purposes. Underdeveloped regions can benefit from access to medical professionals from around the world.
Medical services can also be provided more conveniently, skipping the office visit in many cases. Mobile health devices, remote imaging, and monitoring go far beyond the simple phone call. Medical records are available instantly to emergency rooms and clinics all over the world, while telemonitoring allows patients to rest comfortably at home while their vitals are monitored remotely.
Remote robotic surgery holds particular promise, allowing surgeons with specific expertise to remotely perform operations on patients. The DaVinci System is at the forefront of robotic surgery technology, allowing delicate surgeries to be performed with an incredible level of precision.
3. Formal Education
Remote, low-cost access to education has enabled those at a disadvantage to improve their lives by earning diplomas and degrees online. One of the primary drivers of this movement is a GitHub repository called Moodle, which is a free platform for the establishment of remote online classrooms.
Utilizing Moodle and other IT innovations, the University of the People provides low-cost degrees in Computer Science, Business Administration, and Health Science to anyone with internet access.
The ability to work from home or outside of the office has transformed the idea of the workplace, reducing company overhead and urban congestion in the process. VPNs and various industry-specific applications allow for remote access to systems without compromising security.
Recent polls indicate that 20 percent of the world’s workforce telecommutes frequently, while 10 percent work from remote locations on a daily basis.
Here are some tips to help you effectively work remote.
5. Informal Learning
With vast information resources at our fingertips, knowledge is now spread at speeds never before possible. Facts are kept up to date as conditions change, which leads to a better understanding of the world and better problem-solving.
IT has opened the floodgate of informal learning by creating many new scenarios for research and understanding. In addition to Wikipedia, individuals can gain new knowledge through interaction via instant messaging, online chats, or web-based meetings.
6. Long Distance Collaboration
The world’s top experts in a field can now come together in ways never before thought possible. This has been particularly important for university research, which can now extend far beyond a single institution.
Software development has also experienced benefits from long-distance collaboration. Open Source software depends on the volunteer efforts of participants throughout the world, resulting in innumerable contributions, the most widespread of which would include the Apache web server, MySQL database engine, and the Linux operating system.
7. Supply Chain Ethics
Businesses are able to understand their suppliers in ways never before imagined. The result is that the entire supply chain can be audited to ensure it meets responsible ethics policies. Suppliers and subcontractors can be chosen based on carefully researched criteria, providing a unique selling point for responsible products and services.
MadeInAFreeWorld.com provides a database and tools that can be integrated into a company’s data systems, ensuring a company interacts with sources who meet their ethical and compliance requirements.
8. Smart Cities
Intelligent power grid and water management systems enable us to accomplish more with less. Energy use can be monitored to spread demand more evenly, creating a more efficient power network. Traffic flow and mass transit schedules can be adjusted based on real-time data.
Stockholm serves as an example of what a smart city can accomplish, with its green IT program that reduces energy consumption, manages congestion, and improves the convenience of services.
9. Crowd Computing
The recent rise of crowd computing allows highly complex problems to be solved in an efficient, non-hierarchical manner by enlisting the help of participants throughout the world. The unique combination of human brainpower with artificial intelligence increases the world’s “collective intelligence.”
Repetitive or computational work is accomplished with processing power, while decisions and judgment are left to human participants. Most famously, this system manifests itself in login authenticity testing with the Captcha system.
10. Volunteer Computing
The launch of Seti@Home in 1999 marked the beginning of a trend toward using shared computing power in solving computational tasks of enormous magnitude. The result has been advancements in treatments for cancer and other diseases, clean water filtration, efficiency improvements in solar power generation, efficiency in food production, and more.
And now the BOINC platform and the World Community Grid are used in thousands of projects to spread computing demand over a volunteer network of PCs, utilizing their collective processing power when idle.
Through the diligent use of IT, humanity has reached goals that were previously unattainable. By applying our knowledge of Information technology, each of our efforts, however large or small, can contribute to making the world a better place for everyone.
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