Humanitech: tackling tough challenges facing humanity with technology

Telstra Foundation has partnered with Humanitech, an initiative and brand of the Australian Red Cross, to support research, advocacy and tech innovation that tackles real-world, social and environmental problems.
Jackie Coates · 22 December 2021 · 3 minute read
A young woman smiles as she looks down at her smartphone while wearing earbuds.

At its core, Humanitech is about ensuring that technology serves humanity by putting people at the centre and in control and advocating for humanity based design. It’s all about delivering humanitarian outcomes through the use of new and emerging technologies such as blockchain, AI and robotics. But the team at Humanitech also recognise that to do this successfully, collaboration is key so they are bringing together non-profits, tech companies, government, academics and funding partners to scale tech solutions for social good together.

With the aim to ensure that technology serves humanity, Humanitech generates insights and amplifies ideas through sharing, collaboration, research, and experimentation.

Our funding has enabled Humanitech to turbo charge its efforts and the team has delivered a number of milestones to advance humanity based research, advocacy and tech innovation platforms, including:

  • the successful pilot of a flagship project to share identity credentials via a blockchain solution
  • the launch of the “Future of Vulnerability: Humanity in the Digital Age” report (PDF 3MB)
  • the inaugural Humanitech Summit, a two day event featuring leading thinkers and practitioners sharing insights on how frontier tech can be used to benefit society, and
  • the announcement of the first ever Humanitech Lab cohort that will drive impact in the areas of Disasters and Emergencies, Equity and Justice, and Climate Change.

With the onboarding of the Humanitech Lab cohort this month, Humantiech grants and support will help the following teams to scale their “tech4good” solutions in collaboration with others:

  • SOURCE – The world’s first renewable drinking water system creating sustainable drinking water for communities from sunlight and air.
  • Climasens – Climate intelligence enabling communities to assess, analyse and prepare for future heat impacts.
  • FloodMapp – For real-time flood forecasting, inundation modelling and emergency management.
  • Desert Lab – Combating disinformation in remote First Nations communities using AI/machine learning.
  • Sonnar – Harnessing the power of audio and voice technologies to open up the world for people with accessibility needs.
  • Good Hood – Enabling culturally safe, multilingual health communication by providing high quality, culturally informed, translated health information.

“Working with these six organisations we are hoping to find unique ways to solve some pressing issues. From access to safe drinking water in First Nations communities, to mapping out the path of flood waters so immediate warnings can be provided to people a risk. We want to make these ideas reality and show how frontier technologies can be used to help humanity,” said Alastair Pryor, Humanitech Lab Manager.

“Language barriers have been an area of concern when it comes to combatting COVID19. How great would it be if there was a straight forward way to provide culturally safe, multilingual health information? These are the types of challenges Humanitech Lab will work on with this year’s cohort,” Alistair added.

Humanitech Lab participants will have access to industry experts and mentors, connections across sector and industry along with grants of up to $500,000 to validate, pilot and scale impact.

“This is a unique opportunity combining funding, innovation, technical and community expertise to ensure that we are harnessing the power of frontier technologies to better serve humanity”, commented Alistair.

Humanitech is an endorsed brand of Australian Red Cross and has $4.1m in backing from founding partner, Telstra Foundation. Read more about Humanitech here and join the Humanitech Summit Channel on Slack to keep connected.


By Jackie Coates

Head of Telstra Foundation

A seasoned community investment leader, Jackie is passionate about enabling social innovation underpinned by digital. Self-described as “analogue at birth but digital by design”, Jackie advocates for the transformative power of tech to solve social problems. As head of the Telstra Foundation, Jackie manages a multi-million dollar community partner portfolio to improve social inclusion outcomes for young people in the areas of mental health; disability; digital making; cyber-safety; and remote, regional and Indigenous communities. Feminist, mother, geek, and grant-maker Jackie juggles many balls and tries hard not to drop the glass ones! Find out more at Telstra Foundation.

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