Big solutions using cell phones

Cell phones, while small, are mighty. From loans to a life-saving crisis line, learn all about the ways our phones (smart, or otherwise) are paving pathways to a brighter, more accessible future.

  1. 9:30
    Topher White What can save the rainforest? Your used cell phone

    The sounds of the rainforest include: the chirps of birds, the buzz of cicadas, the banter of gibbons. But in the background is the almost-always present sound of a chainsaw, from illegal loggers. Engineer Topher White shares a simple, scalable way to stop this brutal deforestation — that starts with your old cell phone.

  2. 8:11
    Shivani Siroya A smart loan for people with no credit history (yet)

    Trust: How do you earn it? Banks use credit scores to determine if you're trustworthy, but there are about 2.5 billion people around the world who don't have one to begin with — and who can't get a loan to start a business, buy a home or otherwise improve their lives. Hear how TED Fellow Shivani Siroya is unlocking untapped purchasing power in the developing world with InVenture, a start-up that uses mobile data to create a financial identity. "With something as simple as a credit score," says Siroya, "we're giving people the power to build their own futures."

  3. 15:52
    Iqbal Quadir How mobile phones can fight poverty

    Iqbal Quadir tells how his experiences as a kid in poor Bangladesh, and later as a banker in New York, led him to start a mobile phone operator connecting 80 million rural Bangladeshi — and to become a champion of bottom-up development.

  4. 6:33
    Andrew Bastawrous Get your next eye exam on a smartphone

    Thirty-nine million people in the world are blind, and the majority lost their sight due to curable and preventable diseases. But how do you test and treat people who live in remote areas, where expensive, bulky eye equipment is hard to come by? TED Fellow Andrew Bastawrous demos a smartphone app and cheap hardware that might help.

  5. 10:57
    Paul Conneally How mobile phones power disaster relief

    The disastrous earthquake in Haiti taught humanitarian groups an unexpected lesson: the power of mobile devices to coordinate, inform and guide relief efforts. At TEDxRC2, Paul Conneally shows extraordinary examples of social media and other technologies becoming central to humanitarian aid.

  6. 9:39
    Nancy Lublin How data from a crisis text line is saving lives

    When a young woman texted with a heartbreaking cry for help, the organization responded by opening a nationwide Crisis Text Line for people in pain. Nearly 10 million text messages later, the organization is using the privacy and power of text messaging to help people handle addiction, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, sexual abuse and more. Hear how they're using the anonymous data collected by text to learn when crises are most likely to happen — and help schools and law enforcement prepare for them.

  7. 16:53
    Paul Lewis How mobile phones helped solve two murders

    Two murders sat unexplained and unsolved — until reporter Paul Lewis starting talking to bystanders who had evidence on their mobile phones. Step by step, Lewis pieced together their evidence and their stories to find justice for the victims. It's the future of investigative journalism, powered by the crowd.

  8. 6:16
    Christopher Soghoian How to avoid surveillance ... with the phone in your pocket

    Who is listening in on your phone calls? On a landline, it could be anyone, says privacy activist Christopher Soghoian, because surveillance backdoors are built into the phone system by default, to allow governments to listen in. But then again, so could a foreign intelligence service ... or a criminal. Which is why, says Soghoian, some tech companies are resisting governments' call to build the same backdoors into mobile phones and new messaging systems. From this TED Fellow, learn how some tech companies are working to keep your calls and messages private.

  9. 13:35
    Bruno Torturra Got a smartphone? Start broadcasting

    In 2011, journalist Bruno Torturra covered a protest in São Paulo which turned ugly. His experience of being teargassed had a profound effect on the way he thought about his work, and he quit his job to focus on broadcasting raw, unedited experiences online. In this fascinating talk, he shares some of the ways in which he's experimented with livestreaming on the web, and how in the process he has helped to create a very modern media network.

  10. 9:21
    Bandi Mbubi Demand a fair trade cell phone

    Your mobile phone, computer and game console have a bloody past — tied to tantalum mining, which funds the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Drawing on his personal story, activist and refugee Bandi Mbubi gives a stirring call to action.