Where’s James? Learning About How Technological Innovation Is Lifting People in Nairobi

 In technology, Where's James

In the slums of Nairobi, people often lose their important documents such as Birth Certificates, National IDs, school certificates and vaccination cards due to fires, theft or misplacement. Replacing these documents can take months, and during that time it is nearly impossible to get a job or sign up for basic government services like school.

To overcome this all-too-common obstacle, two Stanford students decided to do away with paper and take it to the cloud. With inspiration from their Designing Liberation Technology class at Stanford, these students, Tanja and Patrick, designed a service called Virtual SafeBox for people living in informal settlements to safely store their documents online.

During my visit to hear their story, Tanja and Virtual SafeBoxPatrick showed me their hand built scanning station and App prototype that was tested in Kenya to store copies of these documents safely in the cloud. This is the kind of technological innovation that helps improve individual lives in a simple, direct way. By eliminating the obstacle these residents face with protecting their important documents, Virtual SafeBox opens up doors for people to go throughout their daily lives and rest easy knowing that their information is stored securely above.

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