Is mobile technology making the world a better place?

Did you know? While access to internet is a necessity for many, it’s still a luxury for a great deal of people. As much as 40% of the world’s population does not live within sufficient mobile network coverage, according to a recent report from McKinsey & Company.

At Opera, we care deeply about connecting the world. With Mobile World Congress (MWC) coming up on March 2, let’s take a look at how we and other MWC attendees have leveraged mobile technology around the world.

IBM: Control Ebola through SMS or calls

At the height of the Ebola outbreak in sub-Saharan Africa, one of the biggest challenges was how to make it easier for people to report first signs of symptoms and where those with the illness are located.

Thanks to mobile technology, aid workers can interact with patients in time to help, as well as detecting where resources are most needed.

IBM partnered with the government in Sierra Leone and grassroot network providers to launch a data-collection mechanism through calls and messaging. The reports are then sent to the IBM lab and mapped.

Opera: Lower internet costs by shrinking data

There are plenty of cheap phones on the market, but, for users in certain countries, the cost of mobile data remains disproportional to local income. For others, it’s difficult to draw a line between owning a smartphone and actually being able to afford being online as much as one wants.

In Brazil, for example, a 500 MB data plan costs $35, and a minimum-wage worker would have to work 3.5 days to afford it. In Norway, home to Opera’s headquarters, a data plan 10 times this size would only cost a minimum-wage worker 2 hours of work.

To help lower mobile-data costs, we rolled out Opera Max last year at MWC. Opera Max is a data-savings app that significantly shrinks mobile-data usage across all Android apps, including for photos and videos. It also scopes out sneaky apps that consume extra data and detects when users are out of their usual networks. With the free Opera Max app, users can extend their data plans by up to 50%. Opera Max is currently available in many countries, including Brazil, and the list is growing. To check if Opera Max is available in your country, go to Google Play.

Internet.org: Get free access to health information

We all agree that one of the best things internet has given us is broader access to information. Now, mobile technology is helping organizations to give people in poverty-stricken areas the most important information, on the go.

Internet.org, an initiative from Facebook and partners including Opera have launched the Internet.org app, which gives users mobile access to health, employment and local information websites, without data charges.

Information and the choice of websites are tailored to each country and published in its local language. The service is currently available in India, Ghana, Colombia, Kenya, Tanzania and Indonesia. In India, users can access Internet.org directly from Opera Mini.

Follow the Opera team on our blog, Facebook and Twitter to see live updates from Mobile World Congress 2015.

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