Here are Chris and Erica’s predictions (keep scrolling down).
Chris Fabian, Co-Lead
Slightly accelerated tech curve this year, based on strong prototypes and financial performance over the last two years, will open the gates to some interesting hybrid prototypes (in the field of drones and Heads Up Displays (HUDs)) – though not mature products in either. A crowded market-place of new (mixed) funding vehicles and options will emerge (including venture-like funding for development projects)
- Drone / unmanned aerial vehicles trials in emergencies / humanitarian interventions will yield hybrid forms of drones – however probably still not ready for large scale deployment.
- Proprietary / private interests trying to cash in on the trend of “public school systems run by private companies” will aggressively approach the development sector for trials, endorsement, and partnership – particularly in the “global south” – to build their value / prove concept for higher liquidity markets.
- Crowd-funding will be a way to engage new audiences both on the creative development of ideas, as well as the funding of small interventions with large potential.
- First examples of wearable, HUD technology applications for humanitarian and development work will be prototyped – not for just recording videos of project work – but for creating efficiencies in tasks where wearable, smart, connected devices can add enormous value.
- Development funders (and fundees) will explore the metaphors, mechanisms, and models developed by venture capital as a way to create transparency, monitoring of projects (against “financial” “returns”) and an ability to fail. We will see several agencies and NGOs launch funds specifically focused on promoting innovation through these mechanisms.
- More innovation units will shape themselves around designers – and the ideas that good design brings to the creative process. This will help create common language among “sectors” (or “silos”) and also encourage different types of collaboration.
- Fellowships, and co-ops and field work will become increasingly valuable options vs. the traditional University MA program for gaining experience, legitimacy, and a network in the space of innovation for global good.
Erica Kochi, Co-Lead
Overview and continuing issues and challenges (analysis):
There will be an increasing focus on developing and funding innovations for fragile states and pockets of poverty within emerging economies. Donors and international development practitioners will grapple with innovative ways to work in insecure conditions and with marginalized communities. Information communication technology will be key as we increasingly need to work through existing networks on the ground, and be able to access to real-time disaggregated information. This will also mean partnerships with and larger investments into companies that provide these communication technology services, and a change in composition of international development staff.
The aid industry will continue to struggle with new models for international development. Donors will increasingly start to ‘rethink’ traditional forms of aid. While sustainability is already the name on everyone’s lips, and there are alternative models that are emerging such social innovation startups model, private sector partnerships to deliver social services, innovation funds etc., most of these have proven to be unsustainable and have not delivered impact at scale.
International development players who do not revamp their HR programmes will increasingly become uncompetitive and irrelevant. Those who start will need to reduce the number of full-time staff with long contracts, put in place opportunities that attract a new types of talents, put in place better metrics on performance, and cultivate a culture of acceptability of fast failure and risk-taking. International development organizations need staff that are not only experts in health, education, protection etc but also have expertise and comfort in using technology, data, and design in their work. Developing, recruiting, and retaining this type of staff will be a significant challenge as competition in the private sector is already high.
- Many US and European-based tech companies (beyond the mobile network operators are already starting look towards consumer bases in emerging markets to through initiatives such as internet.org, Loon etc, but most have little context and are not approaching the opportunity fully. This year will involve creation of meaningful physical presences in emerging markets, devoting sufficient engineering resources towards these markets, creating a culture and environment of app developers, and either competing or partnering with groups (in these new markets) who better understand their context and consumers.
- Better and more built-to-environment smart-devices: Android along with handset manufacturers will begin in earnest to look towards designing with the context and constraints of emerging markets as a priority. This will not only mean lowering of the price point of devices, but also creating power solutions for longer battery life, lowering data usage, and the developing more rugged devices.
Andreessen: Android poised to explode in emerging markets
Google launches Kitkat with a push for emerging markets and in-app search, plus the Nexus 5 we know so well
Google looks to emerging markets for android’s growth
- We will see more projects from the international development sector that embrace user-centered design and agility as a key element of their design; more project plans will have user-centered language built into them from the beginning.
User-Centered Design: Applying lessons from successful product companies to development
UNICEF Human-Centered Design
Backpack PLUS Toolkit created to help empower Community Health Workers
Agile global development: Using technology to fight extreme poverty
Written by Chris Fabian (Co-Lead, UNICEF Innovation Unit, NYHQ) and Erica Kochi (Co-Lead, UNICEF Innovation Unit, NYHQ)