Apps for Good

I recently attended the Apps for Good launch event for seven new mobile applications conceived by, and developed with, school pupils from across the UK.

Pupils at Wick High School in Scotland created Cattle Manager, a mobile app to help farmers keep and track the legally required records for each individual cow in their herd. Farmers currently keep two separate pieces of paper for each cow, which is a lot of paper and a real headache if your herd is 2,000 strong. Cattle Manager digitises the whole process and makes it easily accessible via a mobile device.

Most digital products are conceived, designed, and built by people in the tech industry, usually in one of a few geographically concentrated hotspots. Naturally, this means that the majority of digital products solve problems that are either directly connected with, or easily visible to, these communities.

Concentrations of tech organisations, entrepreneurs, designers and coders are no bad thing—good ideas and impactful projects come from these places—but they don’t, and can’t, represent the diversity of experiences around a whole nation, let alone the world. They don’t serve the needs of a huge swathes of people who have very little connection to the lives and situations of those in Silicon Valley, Shoreditch, or even Manchester.

We need makers, not consumers. We need making things to be normal, not exceptional. We definitely need more people with the will, skill and confidence to make things that might change the world. But even more than that, we need to diversify the crowd of makers so that we’re cross-pollinating ideas and experiences from the widest possible spectrum. Programs like Apps for Good are doing exactly that.