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News

What is Ireland’s ‘Housing for all’ plan?

The Ireland government published their ‘Housing for All’ 2022 progress report on 7th April 2022, which shows the progress in delivering affordable homes, construction sector capacity, innovation and planning reforms.

The ‘Housing for All’ is the housing plan for Ireland to the end of 2030, which aims to provide every citizen an affordable home to purchase or rent at a reasonable price, in order to have a high standard living of life.

The houses are built for affordability that is 20% lower than the market price, plus a €250 million local home loan available for 2022, moreover, they hope to deliver an additional 1,319 houses for the homeless in the period to 2026, also for disabled people, to eradicate homelessness and support social inclusion.

According to the plan, by the end of 2030, 300,000 homes will be available, including 90,000 social homes; 36,000 affordable purchase homes, 18,000 ‘Cost Rental’ homes and approximately 156,000 private homes.

The full report is available at gov.ie – Housing for All – Q1 2022 Progress Report (www.gov.ie)

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Innovation

A more sustainable and greener hospital

Hitachi India Pvt. Ltd. Infrastructure Systems Division has joined forces with AIIMS Hospital, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Overall, they installed a new rooftop Solar Power system to bring solar energy; a new Hybrid Power Factor Correction (HPFC) system to make sure a load of electricity; upgraded a more energy-efficient Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system; replaced 33,000 conventional lights with LED lights; deployed an ICT-enabled Energy Management System to manage the energy system, and etc

As it saves 30% energy, other hospitals also try to copy its model and make strides toward greener and more energy-saving hospitals.

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News

Northern Ireland has passed a policy to encourage social enterprise

On Monday 7 February 2022, the Finance Minister announced changes to the government’s procurement policy to help social enterprises thrive.

According to Employers For Childcare, from June 2022, under a new Procurement Policy Note, public sector tenders must include a minimum of 10% to their social value, and it will increase to 20% from June 2023 subject to review and approval by the Executive. This will apply to service contracts valued above £123,000 and construction contracts valued above £4.7million.

Not only will it increase value from a financial standpoint, but the change also requires the government to remove unnecessary barriers to community groups and social enterprises in terms of bidding for contracts.

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Insight

When Blockchain meets social innovation

Blockchain is a hot topic now, with its decentralization, open-source, and security characteristics, people believe it could be the next trend to reshape financial systems and alter global power structures. So what could happen when blockchain meets social innovation and creates social impact?

When it comes to cryptocurrency which is associated with blockchain, it is easy to understand that people can donate those currencies directly to some charities and foundations, to make sure the purpose of the transfer. And indeed, there are already some websites that facilitate the donation of cryptocurrencies to good causes.

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

Moreover, in the government sector, blockchain can be used to manage records of each government service, to make sure transparency and cut corruption. Also, blockchain technology can be used to buy private services to ensure accountability and efficiency. Regarding the investment sector which is directly related to cryptocurrency, blockchain can help impact investors make use of their money, also entrepreneurs can scale their businesses by measuring the project’s impact.

Blockchain in Action from newamerica

Blockchain can be used in many ways to build the trust we have lost in history, as it’s in the public or private sectors. Importantly, it also helps to nourish innovations that can improve people’s lives. Looking back at our human history, maybe this technology is a key to rebuilding our society.

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Insight

The best example to find the truth through omnipresence info – Bellingcat

In 2016, Bellingcat published a report showing that Russia was supporting pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, also attacked the Ukrainian government troops.

In 2017, the British Secret Intelligence Service cited Bellingcat’s report that it is reasonable to believe Russia shot down the MH17 while it was flying over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Route of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on 17 July 2014 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bellingcat

In 2017, for the Syrian Civil War which happened in 2011, Bellingcat published an investigative report on the bombing of a mosque in Aleppo, that the bomb pieces were related to the US military.

In 2018, Bellingcat assisted the BBC’s Africa Eye investigation and found the Cameroon government faked the news of soldiers have been arrested for killing women and children. As a result, the US withdrew $17 million in funding for the Cameroonian Armed Forces.

BBC Africa Eye. Image source: BBC

And there is much more truth Bellingcat has discovered, so how? Bellingcat has been using leaked Internet video, Google Maps photos, and satellite imagery to support its investigation, along with thousands of human resources from 20 different countries.

Recently, Bellingcat has conducted an investigation into the border clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan crisis in April 2021 and found that the crisis may be related to the harsh environmental situation due to climate change from satellite imagery. In terms of COVID-19, Bellingcat specifically looked at and studied patterns in Twitter data using Twitter API and Python, to show the severity and speed of escalation of the coronavirus crisis in India last year.

The map shows Twitter posts containing the words “help” or “urgent” in India. The color shows what percentage of these posts also contain the keyword “oxygen.” Image source: Bellingcat

Now, Bellingcat is an independent open-source platform that brings together researchers, investigators, and citizen journalists to conduct investigations into war, human rights abuses, and the criminal underworld to achieve greater transparency and accountability. Their work also has been recognized by the general Press industry and receives awards each year for their incredible work.

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Categories
Innovation

4 Best Apps Designed for Vulnerable Groups

Digital devices are everywhere in people’s lives, even for children and the elderly. This is an inevitable trend, powered by the internet. According to a statistic, 4.88 billion people around the world use the internet in October 2021 – that’s almost 62 percent of the world’s total population, and this number is still growing too.

Earlier, we studied that the elderly and the poor are the most likely to lag behind the technology, and yet we cannot change the trend to make it favorable for them. However, there are some efforts made for another vulnerable group of people, who are vision blind, hearing loss, or needy group, to access the technology and make their life easier.

1. BindiMaps

This Australian startup company launched an app “BindiMaps”, which can accurately locate the user’s location and describe to the user where they are and what is nearby through a simple and natural audio system so that visually impaired people can travel freely in shopping malls. In addition, it can also provide the user plans the best route for the indoor space.

https://bindimaps.com/

2. Be My Eyes

Be My Eyes is a free app that connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers and company representatives for visual assistance through a live video call. Since they launched in January 2015, more than 4,000,000 volunteers have signed up to assist blind and low-vision users. Be My Eyes users can request assistance in over 180 languages making the app the biggest online community for blind and low-vision people as well as one of the largest micro-volunteering platforms in the world! And this App is Apple’s 2021 Winner for Social Impact.

https://www.bemyeyes.com/

3. Jeenie

Jeenie is a modern interpreting platform that connects deaf users to a video/audio call with a live, qualified interpreter in seconds. It’s on-demand language assistance, wherever you are, whenever you need it. Jeenie makes it possible to use live interpretation instead of the sometimes-laborious process of writing notes back and forth, to give deaf users an on-demand ASL interpreter.

https://jeenie.com/

4. One degree

One Degree is a technology-driven nonprofit organization that helps individuals and families access the resources they need to improve their lives and achieve social and economic mobility. Rey Faustino launched a digital platform in the heart of Silicon Valley, providing disadvantaged people – new immigrants, the homeless, single mothers – with easy access to services that could improve their situation based on his own experiences.

https://www.1degree.org/

Technological progress is inevitable, and we should follow the trend of making our lives easier and better, including those vulnerable groups of people, and working together to make everyone benefit from technology, not exclude any of them. Moreover, in the user experience design area, some countries have regulated rules to improve the app or web page accessibility, especially for those groups who have special needs. We also would like to see more companies consider those groups and design for them.

This article was edited and published by the original author, no reproduction without consent.

Categories
Innovation

What will we use to pave the road in the future? Could be the mask

In the past one year, in order to prevent the further spread of the virus, masks have become an essential item for people, also disposable gloves and other products have been used widely. Now you can not only find them in the streets and lanes but also in the natural environment and the ocean.

In September 2020, zoologists found a penguin corpse on the coast of Brazil. After the autopsy, they found that there was a complete N95 mask in its stomach. It can be seen from the picture below that the size of this mask is about the same size as a penguin.

Based on the migration path, environmentalists speculated that this helpless penguin should have followed its team from southern Argentina to forage, but mistakenly swallowed the mask as food on the way. Such a large piece of item was stuck in the body, and it couldn’t be vomited out, and it couldn’t be discharged. Death became its ultimate destination.

reference to https://www.archyworldys.com/brazil-magellanic-penguin-dies-after-swallowing-a-mask/

In addition, the little pufferfish can hardly escape the damage caused by masks. In the sea off Miami in the United States, pufferfish have been killed by masks. According to a video taken by a netizen, a pufferfish body in an inflated state was tightened tightly by the mask strap. Pufferfish generally “inflate” when they encounter predators, but a huge mask is enough to make the pufferfish think that it is a threat to life.

Before it died, it wanted to get out of danger through inflation, but it did not expect that this would only tighten the mask. It is conceivable that it once struggled to survive, but in the end, it could only die in despair and pain.

reference to Twitter

According to the “Masks on the Beach” report released by OceansAsia, the number of masks produced globally in 2020 is estimated to be 52 billion, of which about 1.56 billion masks flow into the ocean. Based on the average weight of a mask of three or four grams, this has caused an additional 4680-6240 tons of marine plastic pollution.

The World Conservation Organization (WWF) has also shown that if 1% of the masks used are not disposed of properly, 10 million masks will pollute the environment every month. So, what should we do? First of all, we have to have a certain understanding of what is mask made of and why it can cause damage.

Masks are not plain cloth but plastic. The medical-surgical mask cover consists of two layers of unwoven fabric inside and outside, and a layer of melted fabric in the middle. The outer layer has an anti-dropping effect, the middle layer has a filtering function, and the inner layer mainly absorbs the liquid and moisture released by the wearer.

When we accidentally pile masks up by the ocean in tons, we should understand that after the cycle, the plastic particles will enter our stomachs. Fish eat plastic garbage, then people eat fish, hence forming perfect bioaccumulation.

reference to Theoceancleanup

Studies have shown that about 50% of people’s bodies in the world contain microplastics. Breathing, drinking, and eating may ingest microplastics into the human body. Although the impact of microplastics on human health is still unclear, the pollution problem of microplastics is imminent.

So is there a better way of dealing with masks?

1. The French startup Plaxtil provides solutions for surgical masks, fabric masks and FFP2 masks. It is currently conducting a pilot program in Chatellerault, France, where nearly 100,000 masks have been recycled.

Co-founder Olivier Civil said: “We have set up 50 collection points in pharmacies, stores or shopping malls. We remove the metal rods from the masks and grind them; then the crushed masks are thoroughly purified through the ultraviolet tunnel. Then, we turn these fragments into PLAXTIL materials are injected into the injection molding machine to obtain protection objects against Covid-19: mask fasteners, door openers, protective masks, etc.”

reference to emag.medicalexpo.com

2. Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia has developed a product made from waste plant materials, such as bagasse and other agricultural waste. The initial goal was to develop biodegradable anti-pollution masks. The current idea is that it can also be used for COVID-19 protection, because the highly breathable nanocellulose material can remove particles smaller than 100 nanometers (virus size).

reference to emag.medicalexpo.com

3. Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia have developed a new material that hopes to use masks for road construction. The material combines shredded disposable masks with recycled concrete aggregate (RCA). Substances made from scraps of demolished buildings, such as concrete blocks, are crushed and reused. This new material not only gives new life to some of the 6.8 billion masks that researchers estimate are used every day around the world. According to this research, it can actually make roads stronger and sustain longer.

reference to trekandshoot/iStock, Nodar Chernishev/iStock

Whether it’s the use of masks to pave the road or the reuse of materials, these seemingly mind-boggling ideas tackle these “toxic problems”. In fact, not only these scientists, we can also remake the masks – recycle the masks and clean them up. Afterward, they can be combined with other materials to make some handbags, aprons, cushions for flower pots, hair bands and shoelaces.

reference to https://www.sfchronicle.com/culture/article/65-creative-ways-to-reuse-a-face-mask-15943130.php

Comment below on which idea do you think is the most innovative and feasible one, and what others can you think of.

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Categories
Insight

Does technology make society exclusive or inclusive?

Technology has been well developed in many sectors and we all have been using it in our daily life, such as mobile phones, computers and even in the counter payment process. When technology is more and more advanced, then does it mean our life is getting more and more convenient or it’s another way around, especially during covid-19?

Krugman once said that the inrush of technology in today’s society, which is increasingly moving towards digitization in its numerous spheres (information, communication, social relations, leisure, education, and economy, etc.) is producing what several authors have called “a new industrial revolution”. In our human history, we have been through the twice industrial revolution, the time we are living now could be the third, which is the technology-driven digitization revolution. Based on history, there are always dramatic changes along with revolution, changes in the production, merchandise, working style, daily life, communication etc. Right now, we can feel the changes most evident especially during this pandemic time, where people’s life has been restricted but rely on technology and digitization.

Since the pandemic started, the school has been shut down for safety reasons, over 1.2 billion children are out of the classroom, and students begin to have classes at their homes through the internet and computers. Then how about those students who cannot afford to buy computers and pay for internet fees? The answer is clear that the help is limited even after the government has distributed the subsidy. According to a questionnaire of 597 families conducted by the Society for Community Organization in Hong Kong in August 2020, 40.2% of the children said that they lacked internet computers at home and needed to rely on their parents’ mobile phones for class. About 47% of the children said they had no printers and therefore could not print their assignments. In addition to hardware, the network is also a major problem-about 36% of the respondents said that there is no broadband installed at home or insufficient data and Internet speed to attend classes. Similarly, in America, about one in four eighth-graders who are poor do not have a desktop computer or laptop (23.7%), and almost one in three (29.4%) do not have a tablet—which are essential if students are to be able to follow instruction online. Indeed, 7.0% of eighth-graders who are poor do not have home internet, the other essential instrument for remote study. In contrast, only 7.7% of non-poor students lack a desktop or laptop computer, and only a tiny fraction of non-poor students (1.6%) are without internet access, reported by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2017. In this year, a Los Angeles Times survey of 45 Southern California school districts found profound differences in distance learning among children attending school districts in high-poverty communities.

The significant gap between those from privileged and disadvantaged backgrounds can be found in so many other countries, especially in the poor and developing countries where the resources are scarce. As a result, education has been changed dramatically, with the distinctive rise of e-learning caused by the pandemic. It has distracted students’ school life forever and it will shape future education differently.

A similar situation can be found in the elderly, who are less technology-focused and lack digitization knowledge no matter before, during, or after covid-19. In China, since the pandemic spread all over China, the government has issued a health OR code to track each and every one. Refer to Wikipedia, the health code is an application used as a personal electronic pass. Applicants can automatically generate a QR code by filling in personal information, health status, travel history, place of residence, and whether they have been in contact with suspected or diagnosed pneumonia patients, etc., to automatically generate a QR code with three colors of red, yellow, and green, and dynamically display the personal epidemic risk level. As of April 2020, more than 200 cities in mainland China have launched the “health code” based on the Alipay platform, and the epidemic prevention health code based on the Tencent platform has landed in nearly 20 provincial administrative regions, covering more than 300 cities and counties.

For the elderly, they often rely on their children to generate the code for them, but some still don’t have one. In August 2020, an elderly man in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, was rejected by a bus driver because he did not have a smartphone and could not scan his health code. Similarly, Wu Xianzhi, who lives in Guojiapu Street, Changde, Hunan, has been suffering from bronchitis for more than ten years, but he has postponed the plan for medical treatment because he heard that the hospital was strictly managed by accessing through the health OR code during the epidemic but he did not have such code.

There’s no much space for the elderly in digitization. One video went viral recently in China in November 2020, an elderly woman went to pay medical insurance under heavy rain, but when she reached there, the staff told her that ”we do not accept cash and you can either call a relative or pay on your mobile phone”, and the video caught the elderly being at a loss. Imagine if you were that old lady and how you would feel. Chinese people are now getting used to paying with their phones, virtual money, and are leading the way in this field, with many other countries likely to follow. But as the nation goes cashless, tens of millions of older people are being left behind, with state media repeatedly reporting on the nightmarish experiences they face because of their difficulties navigating a smartphone from the SCMP. The world is aging and if we design things that leave the elderly behind, then we will be left behind as well when we are old. Technology and digitization is the breakthrough and truly make our lives convenient, but we should also not erase the old way of interacting and communicating.

If the world and each and everyone has the same level of technology or digitization literacy and access, then it is definitely making the world inclusive and equal, but we are not living in the perfect world. In a nutshell, technology has separated people into different categories and levels, while this pandemic is a magnifier that magnifies the existing problems with technology so that we can see the extremes. Hence, technology alone cannot make society inclusive, but to design for different people with different backgrounds, and embrace different approaches.

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Categories
Social business

Why can a social business certification-B Corp, level up your company?

“B-corp is just a social business,” you may be wondering, and it is correct at one point, but B-corp is more than a social business. It is a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit like a social business does, furthermore, it has to consider the legal requirements on the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the whole environment.

Credit to B corp Youtube channle

B-corp is a gold medal for social business, and it would be a great honor to be certified by a B-corp organization in the U.S. B-corp organization is a global community that drives a global movement of people using business as a force for good. As they put it, ‘Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.’ Globally, there are 3522 companies certified as B-corp organizations in 74 different countries currently.

The important question now is: How can a business qualify for B-Corp certification? It is interesting to know that B Corp Certification doesn’t just evaluate a product or service; it assesses the overall positive impact of the company that stands behind it. And increasingly that’s what people care most about. Your social business could rely on the B Impact Assessment- a holistic assessment of the overall performance of a company’s impact on its workers, customers, community, and environment developed by the B-corp organization. This B impact assessment also measures your supply chain and input materials to your charitable giving and employee benefits, to ensure that your business is meeting the highest standards of verified performance.

Credit to B corp organization website

The following are the detailed areas that this B Impact Assessment focuses on:

Governance, study what your company can do to enhance policies and practices pertaining to its mission, ethics, accountability and transparency.

Workers, focus on what your company can do to contribute to your employees’ financial, physical, professional, and social well-being.

Community, learn what your company can do to contribute to the economic and social well-being of the communities in which it operates.

Environment, analyze what your company can do to improve its overall environmental stewardship.

Customers, emphasize on what your company can do to improve the value that you create for your direct customers and the consumers of your products or services.

Disclosure Questionnaire, Identify any potentially sensitive industries, practices, outcomes or fines/sanctions of your company that are not explicitly called out in the rest of the assessment.

This B Impact Assessment tool, used by over 50,000 businesses worldwide, not just by Certified B Corporations but also other companies. Each assessment category has 18-38 questions for you to answer and scores to measure what impact your business is achieving and which areas your business should improve.

Credit to B corp organization website
Credit to B corp organization website

Besides fulfilling the B Impact Assessment standard score, your business also needs to meet the legal requirement, which determines how your company can integrate stakeholder considerations into your governance structure. You may refer to this Legal Requirement Tool to find out what legal requirements you need to follow for a specific country policy.

After completing the B Impact Assessment and Legal Requirement, the B-corp organization will verify your score to determine if your company meets the 80-point bar for certification, which is the standard bar for certification. Afterward, you will have to meet virtually with B Lab staff to review your completed B Impact Assessment and submit confidential documentation to validate your responses. Companies also must meet certain transparency requirements to become Certified B Corps, as laid out in the B Corp Agreement as B-corp organization states.

Finally, to complete the certification, you also have to sign the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence, and pay your annual certification fees. It has to point out that fees vary by region, you could check the Global Partner websites for local pricing.

Overall, a B Corp Certification can help you to clarify your mission and goals to stakeholders and get support from them, but it’s also a symbol of sustaining a stable business model that ensures long-term benefits and impact. Moreover, it is also a symbol that your company is creating value for both society and individuals, in ways that affect the public’s impression of your company being seen as ‘green’ and ‘good’.

Read this article to know more→

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Categories
Insight

Our future is poorly designed, so we need to redesign

What is our human future? and what can we do to make our future brighter? As an individual, we all longing for a successful life in the near future and it is a universal truth, while then how about as human beings? have you thought about future life for the whole human beings? If you have not, then you should start to think now and join this movement of designing for yours and our future as a human.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

Nature&environment is the essential substance for us to breath, live and survive, and yet our human has done vicious damage to our only one nature, the damage that cannot recover in a short time, the damage that is constantly evolving and no widely accepted solutions, the damage that will harm ourself eventually in return. The good news is that there are some activists and environmental scientists have initiated the environmental sustainability movement to promote an environment-friendly approach, especially in the business and NGO areas.

Nature and environment is a big topic, and as complex as any systems. To better understand all of the forces in the system-including people, social norms, trends, institutions, laws, politics and natural resources itself, you need a system thinking or system practice first. The most important thing is for any kind of business, embrace the system thinking, start with listening actively to your beneficiaries and gain insights from. To further this approach, we need to analyze the factors that enable and inhabit environmental sustainability development, and what are the causes and what results those factors have lead to? A thorough understanding and analysis are needed for this part, within those factors, identify the loop in between, which they are intertwined and interacted. The loop could be vicious, virtuous and stabilizing, in order for you to find a leverage point where a modest intervention can create an outsized impact on the environment.

Credit to Ellen Macarthur Foundation Youtube channel

As guided by Acumen, a small action in one system can produce big changes in the end, and those small actions contain subsidies, taxes, incentives, punishment and constrain, where you could leverage the system to change. However, you should be careful when you apply any interventions, in case some may cause another problem which makes it even worse.

If your business does care about environmental sustainability, and we invoke more and more business to care, then there are some tips for you quoted by the ‘Circular Economy’. 1. If you have successfully implemented small actions to make your business environmentally-friendly, then you could rent or lease access to your solutions, instead of selling it as a product, this is a way to maximize your impact on the business and the environment as well; 2. When you design a product, try to extend the product’s life to reduce the waste and make the most use of your product; 3. Choose inputs that are recyclable or biodegradable or use waste materials to design your product; 4. Close the loop. We all familiar with the ‘take-make-dispose’ pattern of resource consumption, which causes uncountable waste around the world, while your business should break the loop and apply the ‘take-back’ pattern; 5. Think locally to reduce the waste associated with transportation, start from finding your materials locally and making your product closer to your customers.

Credit to Ellen Macarthur Foundation Youtube channel

Our future was poorly designed, and it needs a redesign from you and us, not only for ourselves but also for our next generations and the beautiful nature. And yet business holds the power of change, and so does to social business. The environment has associated with so many aspects of our life, the breathing air, the drinking water, the burning energy and so on, so design for the environment is design for our future. This article was edited by the original author without their consent, and should not be reproduced.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com