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Gabi Zedlmayer

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Corporations Commit to Sustainable Social Impact at UN Social Innovation Summit

Posted: 06/06/11 03:00 PM ET

Today, I had the pleasure of attending the United Nations Social Innovation Summit, a forum where corporate, government and nonprofit leaders gather to discuss opportunities for positive social change. Economic development, environmental sustainability and global health were some of the issues addressed at today's summit.

Much of today's discussion around health focused on how to infuse technology and innovation to provide better quality and access to health care around the world. Often said to be the "last frontier for IT," health could potentially be the industry sector with the most to gain from technology.

As the head of the social innovation group at HP, I've seen firsthand the impact technology has on global health through our partnerships with several organizations, including the Clinton Health Access Initiative and nonprofit mothers2mothers. At the summit, we discussed a new collaboration that demonstrates the impact technology can have on health systems.

According to the World Health Organization, 75 million people, or 10 percent of Africa's population, are at risk to contract malaria. In order to combat this, we are partnering with Botswana-based nonprofit Positive Innovation for the Next Generation (PING) on an initiative that has the potential to aid in preventing major disease outbreaks in Botswana through mobile health monitoring technology. Harnessing the power of HP webOS and cloud technology, we are collaborating to develop a mobile disease surveillance system that significantly leapfrogs the quality and efficiency of malaria surveillance over previous paper-based methods.

We are currently three months into a year-long pilot program that equips health care workers in Botswana with Palm Pre 2 phones to collect malaria data via a webOS app, notify the Ministry of Health about an outbreak and tag both data and disease surveillance information with a GPS coordinate. This data will contribute to a first-ever geographic map of disease transmission in the country, enabling faster response times and better measurement of malaria cases to monitor treatment and scale-up net coverage.

When an outbreak is detected, health care workers can immediately upload specific case and location information from their mobile device in the field. All health officers in the area and members of the Ministry of Health then receive a text message alerting them of the outbreak, enabling rapid deployment of preventative measures to reduce disease transmission.

As business operations move toward cloud and connectivity, we're seeing some of the most amazing innovations come from applying mobile services to health. Together with the mPedigree Network for example, HP has developed a service that saves lives by enabling patients to validate the integrity of their medicine by sending a free text message. Counterfeit medicine is a significant problem in developing countries, causing more than 700,000 deaths each year. HP has applied its technology expertise in cloud-based services plus intellectual property in anti-counterfeiting to design and build the Global Authentication Service which powers the anti-drug counterfeiting service in Ghana and Nigeria.

As the size and global span of corporations have grown over the years, so has the importance of their commitment to social good. At HP, we believe in the "creating shared value" approach, driving economic and social value simultaneously by applying all of our assets -- employee expertise, technology and partner network -- to evaluate problems and provide innovative solutions to the world's biggest problems.

We're committed to using our problem-solving expertise to provide innovative solutions to social issues affecting these regions. By applying the same strategic thinking that makes HP a successful business, we believe we can both "do well" and "do good."