Technology has taken on a new role as a medium to help those in need in Ukraine.
Take the example of AirBnB. People all over the world have booked more than 61,000 nights in Ukrainian AirBnBs –with no intention of going — since last week, already raising $2 million to help the locals in need. These ‘virtual’ bookings are helping the AirBnB operators to support elderly neighbors with food and transportation and pay their workers.
AirBnB, on its part, has taken its own steps to help Ukrainians by offering short-term housing for free for up to 100,000 of those fleeing Ukraine, as reported by NPR.org.“People can go to Airbnb.org and sign up to host refugees or donate to the cause.”
In the US, people can use the Uber app to give the International Rescue Committee direct donations, which the ride-share company says it will match up to $1 million, according to the report of CNET. “To help refugees fleeing the conflict, Uber is also offering unlimited free rides from the Ukraine-Polish border to the cities of Lublin, in central Poland, and Rzeszow, in the southeast.”
Shoppers in Etsy, the ecommerce platform for handmade or vintage items and craft supplies, are reportedly buying digital downloads from Ukraine-based artisans — artwork, clip art, crochet patterns and even coloring-book pages — that allow them to earn money without having to produce anything physical, further to the report of CNET.On Etsy’s part, it is cancelling the current balances owed to Etsy by all sellers in Ukraine, which includes listing fees, transaction fees, advertising fees and more amounting to $4 million.
Elon Musk has activated Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite internet service, to ensure Ukrainians have reliable internet access. Through another of his companies, Tesla, he is letting owners of any model electric vehicle use its Supercharger stations near the Ukraine borders in Hungary and Poland.
Phone carriers like T-Mobile, and Verizonhave lowered or waived charges for calls to Ukraine, with some including local calls made within the country.
These are just some examples of how technology is being used by people as well as the tech companies themselves to help the Ukrainians citizens cope with the war.
Even ordinary people, entrepreneurs, and small companies are banding together or setting up platforms to help the Ukrainians.
Stanislav Sabanov, a 37-year-old Russianwho normally runs a relocation service for expats, has set up Relocation.Ge, a website to help Ukrainians find shelter in Georgia – connecting those fleeing with homeowners willing to accommodate them, doctors providing free consultations and others offering in-kind assistance, as reported by the weforum.org.
Russian punk band Pussy Riot has joined forces with crypto groups Trippy Labs and UkraineDAO to auction off the NFT of an Ukrainian flag and donate the proceeds to a local charity, further to the report of weforum.org. “The initiative has raised about $3.5 million so far.”
Moreover, “Russian digital rights group Net Freedoms has published a series of tips to help people affected by an internet outage to communicate with loved ones and keep informed about the latest developments”.
The potential of digital technology to help the victims of war is huge. We enjoin all the tech companies, technologists, and entrepreneurs to closely monitor what is happening in Ukraine and find ways on how to utilize technology for humanitarian reasons.
The author is the Founder and CEO of Hungry Workhorse, a digital and culture transformation consulting firm. He is the Chairman of the Information and Communications technology Committee of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX). He is a Fellow at the US-based Institute for Digital Transformation.He teaches strategic management in the MBA Program of De La Salle University. The author may be emailed at email@example.com