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January 16, 2018

What can the Internet of Things do for Social Entrepreneurship?

By Special Guest
Ellie Martin, co-founder of Startup Change group

Developments in the digital economy over the last decade have greatly contributed to the startup ecosystem, entrepreneurship, and overall innovation. With the rise of digital professional communities making it easier than ever for small businesses and entrepreneurs to gain access to resources and funding, the business world has changed for the better.

Thanks to major developments in the Internet of Things our world is increasingly connected, resulting in business becoming more transparent and accessible there has a global community of social entrepreneurs cropping up recently. Working towards a good cause is no longer just a labor of love, but can be profitable, creating an incentive for startups and talent to pursue fields such as education, health, and human rights.

The Internet of things is helping us take care of ourselves
Chances are you’ve heard of the Fitbit. Just one of the many wearable technologies currently on the market that aims to help us take control of our health, the Internet of Things has contributed to a boom in health conscious technology. In addition to helping individuals become more active and conscious of overall well-being, IoT has also led to a revolution in the development of technology that aims to improve the healthcare industry, earning its own title as the Medical Internet of Things.

Interconnected devices can help us store important data regarding how hospital and doctors can better treat patients, which could also greatly benefit businesses specializing in communities that are lacking in health care professionals or in crisis.

Being environmentally friendly just got smarter
Environmental enterprises, historically, have been not for profit. Often relying on government and funding and consumer donations. The Internet of Things has given environmentally-oriented business a leg up when it comes to making a greater impact. Smart appliances, such as thermostats and appliances can help individual households save energy and can be monitored from a mobile phone. The same concept can be applied to communities in need.

As smart appliances can be easily distributed, while simultaneously help companies to gather data, those working in healthcare can better understand individual needs and improve their services accordingly. Companies like One Earth Designs are already utilizing the power of IoT selling solar powered tools that can do everything from purifying water to cook dinner, which is being distributed in remote areas of China. Users can keep a close watch on potential toxins in their environment, while also generating important data. Companies that specialize in environmental and human rights will greatly benefit from data collected which can be analyzed to help them be more efficient and cost-effective in their work

The Internet of Things can help grow socially conscious communities
While human communities have been around since the beginning of civilization, contemporary businesses learning the importance of investing time and resources into human-centric work environments. With a rapidly developing freelance economy and more companies allowing their employees to work remotely, space has been created for the socially-minded workspace to thrive.

The Impact Hub Network, which was founded in 2005, is a social enterprise community center in addition to acting as an innovation lab and business incubator. Home to everyone from freelancers to entrepreneurs to startups, the Impact Hub Network encourages social networks to grow, helping innovation spread the world over. Smart devices have allowed professional networks not only develop, but thrive.

Even in its nascent stages, the Internet of Things is already transforming our world. Keeping us more connected and aware, the IoT's full potential has yet to be realized. In addition to creating a vast infrastructure of digital communities, the Internet of Thing also has the power to bring us together on a human level. With various social enterprises already mobilizing support and resources through IoT networks, it has been shown that by utilizing technology, social entrepreneurship has been able to thrive unlike ever before.

About the author: Ellie Martin is co-founder of Startup Change group. Her works have been featured on Yahoo!, Wisebread, AOL, among others. She currently splits her time between her home office in New York and Israel. You may connect with her on Twitter.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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