Astana Hub, UNICEF launch Social Innovation Lab to solve children’s social problems

NUR-SULTAN – Astana Hub and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have launched Social Innovation Lab, which will create favourable conditions for supporting and developing projects aimed at children and their interests.

Photo Credit: kazpravda.kz.

“The goal of the lab is to pilot projects that will solve children’s social problems using IT innovations. We focus on this. IT solutions allow broader coverage of the issue because the main problem is people’s ignorance of social support methods and children’s problems,” said Social Innovation Lab head Asset Dossymkhanov.

The lab will give the government, corporate and commercial sector partners, civic initiatives and scientific circles the opportunity to implement innovations and create user-oriented design. The projects will provide children and youth with access to governmental services, attract their attention to projects and give them a chance to express their national interests in forming public policies.

“While the start-ups will devise a prototype or modify their projects, our objective is to provide them with technical specialists and mentors who will educate them on business matters. We appreciate Microsoft’s participation because they have the technologies and the competency,” he noted. 

The lab, which currently has 30 partners, will allow them to incubate, develop and modify publicly available products and services for kids using a large amount of data. They will also be able to use artificial intelligence, computer training, virtual and augmented reality technologies, block chain and other methods. 

“We have a project that will provide consultations for mothers. We can make a similar application for children and distribute it in schools. Moreover, for example, we have a legislative restriction that teenage girls cannot go to a gynaecologist appointment without their parents. In such cases, the girl can ask questions through an app or other digital means,” said Dossymkhanov.

He gave another example of a project that will collect data on child abuse and notify relevant government agencies.

“This is one of the solutions that will help collect data from all schools in one place and quickly work on such cases. Children do not always call hot lines in such situations; they do not wish to disclose their identity. That is why it is important to keep it anonymous,” he added.

UNICEF representative in Kazakhstan Arthur van Diesen spoke about an epidemic that spreads through social contact and provided reasons why it is important to track children’s movements.

“Everything is online now; that is why with the help of technologies we can track people’s movements and take preventive measures so that viruses will not spread. This is one of the examples when digital innovations and technologies can help children. Regarding Kazakhstan, we need to determine what the exact problems are and work on them,” he said.

He noted children face many challenges in today’s world.

“With Astana Hub, we promote new ideas and opportunities in this direction. Themes for future projects are not yet determined. However, globally there are a lot of possibilities to help children using technologies,” he noted.