Companies, design and technology solve problems in South Africa
South Africans Marlon Parker and Bruce Snaddon took part in the Aalto Global Impact event and explained how companies, design and technology can improve the world.
“Companies are supposed to make a profit, but the best way to reach that goal is to improve social well-being. Then we can really create something new,” believes Marlon Parker, an IT entrepreneur who is putting his principles into action in his business.
Parker is the founder of a global business called RLabs. Rlabs (Reconstructed Living Lab) contributes to solving many social problems, for example, in the poor townships of Cape Town. The tools include social media, such as the JamiiX service provided by Rlabs, which Parker helped to establish.
Online service assists young drug users
Parker compares JamiiX to a telephone switchboard where people use text rather than their voices. For example, the service allows young drug users to communicate with social workers anonymously via a chat service.
“My own background is a motivating factor in this work – I grew up in a Cape Town neighbourhood that had a lot of unemployment, drugs and gangs. Our six-member family had a monthly budget of about 60 euros. I was the first member of our family who had the chance to go to university," says Parker, who has lectured at Cape Peninsula University o f Technology for several years.
Design makes Cape Town safer
In 2014, Cape Town will become the first African city to carry the title of World Design Capital. However, design is more than just aesthetics.
According to Bruce Snaddon, a senior lecturer in graphic design at Cape Pensinsula University, design can even help to prevent crime.
“A project being implemented in the Khayelitsha neighbourhood of Cape Town uses design to solve real crime-related problems. In practice, design can have an impact on such things as how safe corridors are designed in the neighbourhood.”
Aalto University is part of Cape Town’s WDC year
Aalto University is involved in Cape Town’s WDC year The Aalto Global Impact event laid the foundation for co-operation with Cape Town.
“Project planning with Aalto University is still in the preliminary stage. However, we have already discussed the development of a common online forum for information sharing.”
Aalto Global Impact was held at Aalto University on 19 April with the aim of improving co-operation and creating new international contacts. The event was attended by guests from different companies and universities around the world.
For further information about Aalto Global Impact:
Text: Tea Kalska