What is software? At root, it’s just a bunch of instructions for a computer to follow that tell it what to calculate. Usually, we think of software as something that’s for business, helping them to do things faster and better and to make more money. But is that all there is to software’s story?
It turns out that software isn’t just helping make Silicon Valley entrepreneurs rich: it’s also helping make the world a better place.
Here are just some of the ways software helped to improve the world this year.
Watson Got Really Good At Detecting Cancer
Watson, the artificial intelligence software developed by IBM under the leadership of Ginni Rometty, has been making leaps and bounds since it wowed the world in 2011 by beating the world champion Jeopardy player. Since then it’s been trying its hand at detecting and diagnosing cancer in MRI scans of patients. Thanks to its superhuman ability to detect patterns, the software is actually turning out to be a lot more effective than most people expected. It’s improved the cancer detection rate by around 20 percent, meaning that there are fewer false negatives than ever before.
The team at IBM hope that the artificial intelligence software can be applied to all sorts of diseases and will be available for low cost to doctors all over the world, especially in places like India where there is a chronic shortage of trained medical staff.
Software Saved Time In Schools
If you browse top school management software online, you’ll find all sorts of claims about how it saves an enormous amount of time and lets administrators do their work far more efficiently. Most people would pass it off as marketing spiel, but it turns out that management software is having a tremendous effect on productivity. According to Capterra, management software saves the average employee more than 2.5 hours per day. That’s the equivalent to more than 400 family dinners a year or 5 week-long vacations.
The technology is proving to be especially useful in schools where administrators have to process a lot of timetable information. Software is helping them to streamline the process and get on with the stuff that they are good at: managing parental expectations.
Software Is Saving Lives In Construction
Construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the world, second only to logging and mining. As a result, many of the top people in the industry are looking for ways to make it safer.
According to the data, around 43 percent of companies in the construction business are finding that software is producing real safety benefits. Around 200 lives are saved every year, thanks to risk management software that helps construction companies assess the health and safety risks that their workers face.
Software In Increasing Online Giving
Charities know that there is only so much donor money sloshing around at any given time. Their job is to get access to that money to finance their operations. But there’s a problem: many other charities are competing against them for the same funds.
Charities and nonprofits have discovered that they can increase the amount of charitable giving if they cleverly target their adverts. Getting people to do this on an individual basis would be impossible, but it’s trivial for a machine. Software has increased non-profit giving by 9.8 percent, meaning that it has helped provide an extra 14 billion meals or over 200 million blankets to the needy.
Software Is Saving Lives In The ER
According to data from the HHHS, there are more than 7,000 fatalities every year thanks to medical errors. Most of the time, these mistakes happen because medics make errors in their prescriptions for patients, or there is nobody on standby to monitor a patient’s condition. Software is changing all that. Now it’s being used to help doctors make fewer errors, and since it has been implemented, errors have fallen by more than 63 percent. In total, it is estimated that software has saved more than 4,400 lives per year in the medical sector.
Software Is Making Getting Fit Easier
We all know how challenging it can be to keep fit. But we also know how important it is to our overall health and wellbeing. People who don’t take regular exercise are at higher risk of stroke and diabetes.
Unfortunately, the statistics on fitness are still pretty grim: 82 percent of people who make a New Year’s resolution to get fit in January give up by February. But it is estimated that more than 684,000 people managed to stick to their resolutions last year, thanks to fitness apps.
Software Is Creating New Jobs
Over the last seven years, the cloud has grown from essentially nothing into one of the world’s biggest industries. Goldman Sachs has estimated that the cloud market will reach a lofty $220 billion by 2020.
Thanks to all that growth, the industry has witnessed a boom in job creation. Thanks primarily to the growth of the cloud, there are now an extra 14 million jobs worldwide in computing. As the cloud continues to grow and the number of software offering increases further, more and more people will shift into this lucrative industry.
Software Is Making Fleet Management Easier
Last year saw the largest volume of parcels ever delivered in the weeks running up to Christmas. Taking all those orders and sending out parcels to the general public required some powerful software to organize. According to the data, more than 317 million gifts were delivered last holiday season, thanks to logistics software. That means that all those books and all those drones you ordered got to their intended destinations because of zeroes and ones.
Software Is Preserving Forests
Before email marketing, businesses had to get the word out by sending flyers. They were relatively inexpensive to produce, but they required the cutting down of billions of trees. Now, though, businesses are choosing cheaper options, like email marketing, and reducing their environmental impact in the process. It is estimated that email marketing software has prevented more than 13 billion trees from being cut down annually.