When you think of your cell phone, you probably imagine your text message conversations, checking your Facebook and Instagram accounts, or playing a game. Did you realize phones have a much bigger impact in other ways? Check out these ways cell phones are changing the world.
1. People Use Them to Find Jobs
Prominent companies such as Monster and Indeed now offer apps on Apple and Google Play to make it easier for people to search for work no matter where they are. The trend is on the rise in other countries as well. World Bank reports that JobMatch, a service in Palestine, helps college graduates find work in about a week (down from an average of 12 weeks). Those using the service also report wages of up to 50 percent more than they would have received otherwise.
2. Researchers Use Them to Track Disease
Cell phone technology makes it increasingly easier for researchers to track the spread of disease both nationally and internationally. Healthcare workers use cell phone data to track the movements of people who have communicable diseases. People in Kenya were able to overlay maps of malaria-ridden areas with call and text data maps to determine where the disease was likely to show up next. This allowed medical professionals to send medication, mosquito nets, and doctors to unaffected areas to protect them from outbreak. Researchers can also use this type of technology track the outbreak of sexually transmitted diseases or diseases that could be prevented with vaccinations.
3. Underdeveloped Countries Use Them to Bank
Underdeveloped countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda often find it difficult to access brick-and-mortar financial institutions. Using cell phones to access financial institutions makes it easier for citizens of these countries to save money rather than keep cash. Those who don’t have access to app-supporting phones can even use SMS messages to communicate with operators who help them transfer money. Kenya’s system moves millions of dollars for people every day. Helping underdeveloped countries access financial institutions often makes it easier for them to save money or to send money to family members who are too remote to access banks or use money management options on cell phones.
4. Medical Professionals Use Them to Save Lives
More than tracking the spread of disease, cell phones help medical professionals in rural areas provide better care for patients. Mobile health programs connect remote communities, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, to a larger network of healthcare providers. The network means that rural medical professionals gain access to specialists who can help diagnose medical problems and recommend treatment methods or advice the patient go to a hospital. Cell phones also make it easier for people to “visit” doctors and therapists. An increasing number of apps provide access to general practitioners, mental health counselors, and even addition counselors. App-based video appointments make it easier for people who don’t have transportation or a lot of extra time to monitor their health.
5. Entrepreneurs Use Them to Run Businesses
Peter Foyo, a leader in international development projects and communication technology businesses, notes that many people now use their cell phones to run their companies. Small business owners can use their app-enabled phones to accept mobile payments, email receipts on the spot, track inventory and finances, and much more. Corporate CEOs are no strangers to communication technology, either. Smartphones make it easy to have international video conferences or perform other tasks on the go.
As technology advances further, it’s safe to say that you can expect cell phones to change the world even more. One of the biggest changes on the horizon? Augmented reality that will project images on your phone so that they appear to be in your physical world. How will you use the new technology?