In our experience, one of the most effective ways for technology innovators to achieve impact is to collaborate with affected communities. After all, who is better placed to understand the daily challenges and how lack of access to basic public services such as healthcare, education and security impedes a population’s stability and development?
By understanding individual and group needs at grass-roots level, nurturing ideas and working with affected communities to identify technological solutions, technology vendors can contribute to entrepreneurial ecosystems that give citizens the access and opportunities they need to enable progress.
This process requires engagement in a number of different networks, from advising regulatory bodies and supporting educational institutions to participating in forums and hosting workshops. Together, these networks underpin the drive towards growth and stability.
While Motorola Solutions’ pioneering heritage and experience in public safety has enabled us to develop a wide range of mission-critical communication solutions that span infrastructure, devices, software and services, the true potential of all this technology risks remaining untapped without shared knowledge and local resources.
Initiatives such as Mobiles for Human Development - in which Motorola Solutions and the UNDP partnered to explore the use of mobile technologies to foster human development - can help to bring basic services and information to all citizens. The collaborative effort of social innovators, national and local governments, academic and civil society organisations and small enterprises revealed the gap between human and technological development and suggested ways in which mobile technology could tackle the diverse challenges faced by developing countries.
This research led to the creation of the International Network of Social Innovators for Human Development, which has held gatherings in Kenya, Tunisia, Rwanda, Berlin, Senegal and Ethiopia and is continuing to expand to other countries and regions.
Another example of how networking with local communities can have a significant impact is the MotoSecure Hackathon Day. Hosted in partnership with Impact Hub Bamako in Mali, it provided the opportunity for us to work with young entrepreneurs and application developers, to encourage innovation and explore new economic opportunities to drive digital growth, promote stability and support development.
During the event, Safi Camara, a member of Women Tech Makers Mali, proposed a solution to improve the country’s healthcare system through the development of a mobile application that would enable doctors and hospitals to manage medical records and patients more easily and efficiently. Another participant, Amadou Yarangore, chose to tackle the rise of insecurity in society by using Motorola Solutions’ application programme interfaces (APIs) to create a direct and secure information linkage between citizens and security agents.
We have also been engaged in Rule of Law infrastructure development projects, including a 2014 project with the Somalia Police Force to provide safe communication solutions to local police.
Defining Industry Standards
The establishment of regulatory standards is equally important in building entrepreneurial ecosystems. Standards make innovation happen more quickly and act as a catalyst for growth.
In creating and promoting regulatory standards such as TETRA and Digital Mobile Radio and by helping to define 4G technology and more specifically the deployment of Long Term Evolution (LTE), Motorola Solutions has supported interoperability at application, device and network level, promoting open standards that give humanitarian organisations and local governments the freedom to choose which vendor to purchase from while also offering them the reassurance of compliance.
In addition, participation in forums such as the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) has promoted the use of shared communication services in humanitarian emergencies. In 2014, The ETC adopted MOTOTRBO DMR as the official digital VHF/UHF radio standard for ETC and humanitarian operations. This technology has given humanitarian organisations and local police forces access to timely and effective communication that can improve response and co-ordination, provide greater operational security for staff and assets and enhance decision-making.
Investing in Capacity Building
Education programmes that advance science, technology, engineering and maths are vital to prepare future generations of innovators. Motorola Solutions’ charitable and philanthropic arm, the Motorola Solutions Foundation (MSF), makes strategic grants to engage students in hands-on technology and engineering activities such as coding, programming and robotics.
Professional development and training opportunities are also offered to first responders. For example, the MSF is working with the American Red Cross and International Red Cross to improve technologies in Africa that help disaster prevention and relief. Partnerships with fire sensor manufacturers have resulted in low-cost smart fire alarms being installed in thousands of homes across settlements in Nairobi, Kenya and Cape Town, South Africa.
In Washington DC, the MSF has helped to fund training for police officers to handle situations on conflict and violence reduction. Since the training has been implemented in Vermont, New Jersey and Florida, all three areas have seen a reduction in the number of police situations ending in violence, complaints against police and number of police injuries.
Sustainable Development Goals
Each of the networks discussed above demonstrate how building entrepreneurial ecosystems can creatively overcome hindrances to development by enhancing basic services such as education, healthcare and security to foster growth.
By aligning technology, knowledge and resources, we can create sustainable goals for social and economic development.