How Tech Is Advancing Social Protection

Social protection foundations and government agencies are increasing their ability to reach those in need by leveraging technology. Technology is a force multiplier for social protection groups’ efforts allowing them to increase their impact and reach more people. As the world becomes more digital, social protection trends must adapt. Integrating technology into social protection programs is necessary to create equitable changes to people and communities in need of help. As a whole, technology is advancing social change, as suggested by this article in Development Pathways. By increasing the speed at which aid is given, connecting social protection agencies, and providing insights into how recipients use aid.  

Increasing Internet Connectivity Makes Giving Aid Easier

Lack of quality of Internet connection is a barrier to providing educational assistance as there is a high correlation between access to the Internet and educational outcomes. While internet access is typically provided through infrastructure that isn’t affordable in impoverished communities, advances in technology are creating better Internet access to remote and impoverished areas. 

A good example is satellite technology, that skips the infrastructure phase of Internet connection and goes straight to wireless Internet provided by satellites. Elon Musk’s, from Tesla, founded  SpaceX, which is an aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company that is sending satellites into low orbits, giving high-speed Internet access to rural areas, according to telecompetitor. One of the projects named the Starlink project gives areas with little infrastructure high speed, low lag Internet connections when constructing a satellite internet constellation. 

Improving the Internet connection gives social protection agencies the ability to connect with local leaders and caseworkers to increase the speed at which social benefits can be delivered. Better internet connection will also improve the way agencies provide financial aid as stronger and more secure connections will increase the speed at which social protection funds are delivered. The use of resources on debit or charge cards provide social protection agencies with metrics to how recipients use their aid.  

Better Data For Financial Progress

Increased use of digital funds will provide change-makers with valuable data as they will be available for analysis when accessing technology with better connectivity available in impoverished communities. This data will highlight trends that don’t present themselves in anecdotal or visual observations. The data created and collected will be organized and analyzed by data scientists to determine patterns and find which efforts yield the best results. 

Tracking how social protection funds are used can help to identify what people actually need or feel they need the most. Even where recipients buy their food from can indicate the needs of a community. A data scientist, as explained in this article by Career Karma, can evaluate this data for correlations and underlying causes, helping agencies to implement changes that will more significantly impact the lives of people in need. 

Therefore, using the new technology to get and analyse this data will help organizations focus on high-impact ventures, freeing up resources to combat newly identified trends. 

Digital Currencies Make Sending Aid Faster And More Secure

Technology is also helping social protection agencies to reach populations in impoverished communities faster using the digital infrastructure as mentioned before. Cash and voucher transfers are becoming a more common form of assistance. Using electronic methods of sending money can help global foundations quickly send funds.

Electronic transfers ensure that the money goes to the correct people and that it’s received. Digital funds are easier to track than their cash counterparts. Digital transfers increases agencies’ need to invest in anti-money laundering and cybersecurity professionals to keep financial information and sensitive data away from cybercriminals. Recipients of social aid are more adversely affected by cybercriminals than more privileged populations. 

Tech Can’t Replace Human Interaction

Resorting to digital forms of communication can dampen a caseworker’s human connection to aid recipients. Although technology is an excellent tool for amplifying social change efforts, reliance on algorithms to determine a community’s progress or spotting new trends doesn’t guarantee success. For a population with little technological experience, caseworkers will have to teach recipients how to use apps and other digital tools. Criminals can exploit people’s lack of knowledge about technology. 

Algorithms are inherently biased and often miss the nuances of a situation. Much of today’s technology is made for middle-class markets that doesn’t necessarily work to meet lower-income users’ needs. Front end developers, as explained by Career Karma, need to understand how users with limited technological experience use of this technology. They must create apps and websites easily usable for populations with less technological literacy. 

Technology Improves Interagency Collaboration

Technology is also creating more avenues for government and non-government agencies to collaborate and coordinate projects. It makes it easier for agencies worldwide to communicate with one another, reducing overlap in services. These institutions can more easily share data, preventing failed initiatives from being repeated. 

Tech Increases Safety During COVID-19

Recipients of social protection are more susceptible to viruses that are uncommon in industrial nations. The COVID-19 pandemic diminished the ability for agencies to provide aid and meet with those in need. Technology provides a way for caseworkers to communicate with the people they serve without putting anyone’s health at risk.

Technology Will Further Social Protection

Increased access to technology will help more social protection recipients access education and job training programs. Assistance will continue to reach its destination faster. Improved algorithms and data sharing will allow social protection to improve their communication and joint efforts to assist those in need.