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Socially conscious? Try these 5 apps

With so many apps available to us, MVELASE PEPPETTA rounds up the top five apps for the socially-conscious.

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Buy a t-shirt and you may be supporting sweatshop labour halfway around the world. Pick up some fresh fruit at the grocery store and you’re doing harm to the environment. In a world where every little decision seems to cause some or other social harm, it can be difficult to navigate life in a socially conscious way. But if you are a person interested in living that kind of life, living in an “apptastic” world, it’s hardly surprising there’s an app for that. To be exact there are many apps for that, so here’s a quick run through some of them that can help in pointing South Africans in the right direction when considering their socially-conscious app choices.

SASSI App

According to the World Wildlife Foundation, “catching fish is not inherently bad for the ocean, except for when vessels catch fish faster than stocks can replenish, something called overfishing”. Ensuring that the seafood industry is sustainable requires addressing the entire industry’s supply chain’s sustainability. That means, everything from the fisherman’s hook, via the seafood vendor, right through to what’s on the end of your fork. As a person, unless you’re going out to the sea and catching all the fish you eat, it’d be almost impossible to track all of that. Enter the SASSI (Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) app. The easy-to-use app allows you to check the sustainability of your seafood choice in real time. You can find out whether to tuck in, think twice or avoid altogether, thanks to the app categorising seafood species according to a ‘traffic light’ system of red, orange and green.

MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet App

MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet fundraising programme is one of South Africa’s biggest community programmes generating funds for schools, charities and environmental organisations through a system that allows supporters to raise money for their beneficiary (school or charity) every time they shop at any of the more than 1600 partner stores across the country. The programme raises more than R6 million a month for the schools, charities, animal welfare and environmental organisations it and supporters assist. Though most think of the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet programme as working through a card, the 22-year-old programme has entered the digital age and now has a virtual card app that you can scan at till points to give back every time you shop.

TapOff
Although the fears of Day Zero may have passed, Cape Town still remains – and will always be – in a precarious position when it comes to water. Launched during the height of the Day Zero fears, TapOff lets users log their water use, inspiring people to take action to save more water. An experiment in gamification, TapOff encourage people to claim their position on a water-saving leader board, by suburb, and in turn encourage their friends and family to do the same, while also providing users water information such as dam levels, and rain levels.

Carbon Buddy
Of course the greatest threat facing the world right now is climate change. By now we all know that minimising our carbon footprint is key to fighting global warming and climate change. But how to do so is a far harder thing to do. This is where the Carbon Buddy app steps in. The Carbon Buddy app touts itself as providing the tools and services you need to start taking action. Put simply, the app allows you to measure your emissions, then provides you with information to understand your impact, and lastly it enables you to act by giving you tips on how you can reduce your emissions going forward.

SweepSouth
Due to South Africa’s history, the domestic work industry remains one of the country’s most fraught, rife with issues around pay and proper legal protection. Often described as an “Uber for domestic workers,” SweepSouth looks to alleviate this situation while providing users with the domestic workers they need to clean their homes or offices. To date, SweepSouth has created more than 10 000 employment opportunities for previously unemployed and underemployed domestic workers at rates higher than the national minimum wage for domestic workers. According to Fairwork, a collaboration between the universities of Cape Town, the Western Cape, Manchester, and Oxford that ranks working conditions and standards in the gig economy, SweepSouth is noted for the treatment of people finding work through its platform. In addition to receiving points for fair pay, management and contracts, Fairwork also noted SweepSouth actively improved working conditions by providing work-related insurance, as well as the facilitation of worker voice mechanisms on the platform.

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Millennials turning 40: NOW will you stop targeting them?

It’s one of the most overused terms in youth marketing, and probably the most inaccurate, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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One of the most irritating buzzwords embraced by marketers in recent years is the term “millennial”. Most are clueless about its true meaning, and use it as a supposedly cool synonym for “young adults”. The flaw in this targeting – and the word “flaw” here is like calling the Grand Canyon a trench – is that it utterly ignores the meaning of the term. “Millennials” are formally defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000, meaning they have typically come of age after the dawn of the millennium, or during the 21st century.

Think about that for a moment. Next year, the millennial will be formally defined as anyone aged from 20 to 40. So here you have an entire advertising, marketing and public relations industry hanging onto a cool definition, while in effect arguing that 40-year-olds are youths who want the same thing as newly-minted university graduates or job entrants.

When the communications industry discovers just how embarrassing its glib use of the term really is, it will no doubt pivot – millennial-speak for “changing your business model when it proves to be a disaster, but you still appear to be cool” – to the next big thing in generational theory.

That next big thing is currently Generation Z, or people born after the turn of the century. It’s very convenient to lump them all together and claim they have a different set of values and expectations to those who went before. Allegedly, they are engaged in a quest for experience, compared to millennials – the 19-year-olds and 39-olds alike – supposedly all on a quest for relevance.

In reality, all are part of Generation #, latching onto the latest hashtag trend that sweeps social media, desperate to go viral if they are producers of social content, desperate to have caught onto the trend before their peers.

The irony is that marketers’ quest for cutting edge target markets is, in reality, a hangover from the days when there was no such thing as generational theory, and marketing was all about clearly defined target markets. In the era of big data and mass personalization, that idea seems rather quaint.

Indeed, according to Grant Lapping, managing director of DataCore Media, it no longer matters who brands think their target market is.

“The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research. While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level.

“Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave.”

Netflix, he points out, is an example of a company that is changing its industry by avoiding audience segmentation, once the holy grail of entertainment.

In other words, it understands that 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds are very different – but so is everyone in between.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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Robots coming to IFA

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Robotics is no longer about mechanical humanoids, but rather becoming an interface between man and machine. That is a key message being delivered at next month’s IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin. An entire hall will be devoted to IFA Next, which will not only offer a look into the future, but also show what form it will take.

The concepts are as varied as the exhibitors themselves. However, there are similarities in the various products, some more human than others, in the fascinating ways in which they establish a link between fun, learning and programming. In many cases, they are aimed at children and young people.

The following will be among the exhibitors making Hall 26 a must-visit:

Leju Robotics (Stand 115) from China is featuring what we all imagine a robot to be. The bipedal Aelos 1s can walk, dance and play football. And in carrying out all these actions it responds to spoken commands. But it also challenges young researchers to apply their creativity in programming it and teaching it new actions. And conversely, it also imparts scholastic knowledge.

Cubroid (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Korea starts off by promoting an independent approach to the way it deals with tasks. Multi-functional cubes, glowing as they play music, or equipped with a tiny rotating motor, join together like Lego pieces. Configuration and programming are thus combined, providing a basic idea of what constitutes artificial intelligence.

Spain is represented by Ebotics (Stand 218). This company is presenting an entire portfolio of building components, including the “Mint” educational program. The modular system explains about modern construction, programming and the entire field of robotics.

Elematec Corporation (Stand 208) from Japan is presenting the two-armed SCARA, which is not intended to deal with any tasks, but in particular to assist people with their work.

Everybot (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Japan approaches the concept of robotics by introducing an autonomous floor-cleaning machine, similar to a robot vacuum cleaner.

And Segway (Stand 222) is using a number of products to explain the modern approach to battery-powered locomotion.

IFA will take place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ExpoCenter City) from 6 to 11 September 2019. For more information, visit www.ifa-berlin.com

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