I read an uplifting article in the Guardian about a pioneering course teaching young people how to develop mobile phone applications to positively impact their communities.
Launched earlier this year in Tulse Hill, south London, Campaign for Digital Inclusion’s (CDI) Apps for Good course, provides young people not in full-time employment, education or training with the skills to develop leading-edge technology, which can be used for social benefit.
The course, which costs £3,000 [$4,800] per student is funded by Dell, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Unilever, is divided into four weeks of planning and four weeks of developing an app.
CDI has already seen some fantastic apps from its students who are all recruited by referrals from youth, social and probation workers, by word of mouth, and through advertisements in local papers.
Three CDI students created the successful StudentVoice app, which is free to download and enables prospective and current students to research useful facilities at university. It shows where the libraries, museums, free Wi-Fi and coffee shops are, and its developers hope it will reduce dropout rates by helping students settle.
Other app developments include the Stop and Search app, which aims to make the police street search process fair and transparent. There is a comic strip that tells users what their rights are, and encourages those who have been searched to rate their experience. Their feedback becomes a marker on a Google map so that patterns can be detected.
The Stop and Search app has had over 2,000 downloads and, along with the Student Voice app, has just been granted funding from Unltd (a charity that supports social entrepreneurs) to develop them.
Currently Apps for Good is only available in London, although plans are in place to expand the scheme rapidly.
CDI’s goal is to have trained 50 young people by the end of the year and to have 1,000 people successfully completing Apps for Good in 2011.