Before we all had smartphones in our pockets, some of us had a PDA. The Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) may no longer elicit any public displays of affection, but this handheld device was a trailblazer in the nineties and noughties. Designed for managing appointments, sending emails and even reading handwriting, PDAs emerged from the convergence of telecommunications and information technology, foreshadowing the world of tablets and smartphones that we live in today.
What has proximity to the public holidays and the Central Business District got to do with a blood donation drive? Turns out they impact how many people show up for blood donation drives.
This insight was one of several the Singapore Red Cross learned thanks to DataKind Singapore (DataKind SG). Since 2014, this voluntary group of data scientists, developers and designers have been using data to help the social service sector in Singapore get better at doing good.
The Red Cross was just one beneficiary of the group’s recent “DataDive” in April. Over 70 volunteers spent their weekend huddled in an office crunching data to help the Singapore Children’s Society learn about how professionals and the public perceive child abuse, and also supported O’Joy Care Services in measuring the performance of its mental health programme for seniors.
“Non-profits are often struggling with operational issues. They don’t really have time to step back and see what’s happening,” says Raymond Chan, who leads the Singapore chapter of this global organisation headquartered in New York. “We will try to help them see the bigger picture using data.”
These persons with disabilities (PWDs) tap into digital technologies to make the world more accessible for them.
A conversation with Joseph Chua De Bao used to involve writing on notepads. Born deaf, and unable to adjust to hearing aids or lip-read accurately, Joseph’s only way of communicating with others was in writing — that was until he got his first smartphone, an Apple iPhone in 2007.
“The challenges of communicating with people via pen and paper are lack of patience and time,” writes the freelance software developer in an e-mail interview. “When I noticed the Notes app, it jolted my ideas because it was paperless so I used this technology to communicate with people.”