Predicting the Future

by | May 24, 2013 | Change |

Change is the only constant.  Technology speed doubles every 18 months.  Humans will colonise Mars.  Short sound bites that we have all heard before, likely more than once.  Predicting the future is an exercise fraught with difficulty, which I won’t be attempting here.  The fact that the future will be different from the present seems obvious enough, the question is about how different and in which ways.

The folk at Simply Zesty did a bit of their own compiling & analysing of information to give a picture of what the future of technology might look like.

It’s a fascinating picture isn’t it – with cash and credit cards being obsolete in 2021, the world being covered by CCTV in 2024, and a team of robots playing in the World Cup in 2050.  Some of it sounds a bit ridiculous to me as I find it hard to imagine rural Africa or the deep Amazon jungle being covered by CCTV.  However, I do wonder if robotics becomes more and more mainstream as well as wearable computing devices – how will this impact responses to humanitarian responses?  Will robots be sent to distribute food? Work in health clinics?  Will human aid workers be wearing computing device streaming constantly updated information to them?  It all might sound ridiculous, but how can we use the continually increasing advent of mobile phones and information to improve our aid to those affected by disasters?

A decade ago the idea of giving cash to beneficiaries seemed crazy, now it’s more mainstream (but still has a long way to go!).  While mobile phones are part of our day-today lives, many agencies still gather assessment data on paper rather than using phones.  Many of us use GPS maps in our cars or on our phones to find the places we need to go, but how many agencies have digital maps of their global operations?  How many agencies have maps of all the communities they work with?  Unfortunately, it is still rare.

In many ways, one of the projects I’m working on is about creating the future – not in some radical, life altering way, but it is about creating a future where humanitarian organisations can gather, process, analyse and ultimately use information better in an emergency.  We are focusing on mapping, mobiles, and the web; but more than that, we are wanting to help agencies become more familiar with using technology – not technology for technology sake, but using technology to help agencies do what they do better.

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