How technology can help bridge the inequality gap for vulnerable populations

By Katherine Ng

Katherine Ng (TCFS 2003) recognised that minority groups and vulnerable communities often don't get to experience the world in the same way others do. Here, she shares how her social impact start-up is helping to create equality.

Katherine Ng

I started the social impact start-up Ministry For Good with two co-founders in June 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore. Our shared vision was to serve humanity through deep tech initiatives to help the most vulnerable populations. Because, when we talk about equality, we need to think about everyone.

Though broader society is increasingly recognising the importance of equality through diversity, minority groups and vulnerable communities often don’t get to experience the world in the same way as ‘mainstream’ populations. Not only can they miss out on work and civic opportunities, but also the daily interactions that others may take for granted.

As an example of how our work has helped address this disparity, we created a spatial computing experience that allowed deaf Malaysians to feel auditory prayers during Hari Raya (the celebrations that mark the end of Ramadan) and incorporated reminiscence therapy with virtual reality for dementia patients, helping them bond with their caregivers by reliving shared virtual memories together.

Projects such as these, designed to help the vulnerable, have allowed us to show how technology can facilitate inclusion. Just because someone is deaf or has dementia doesn’t mean they shouldn’t enjoy meaningful everyday interactions, and it shouldn’t be the case for people with other forms of disability or disadvantage either, particularly given the rapid advancement of technology. We are witnessing a technological renaissance that can empower us as individuals and communities, giving us sophisticated tools to double down on what makes us human.

Right now, we are undergoing a transformational period in the advancements of artificial intelligence, blockchain, virtual reality, augmented reality and more. Accelerated by the pandemic, remote teams such as Ministry For Good are collaborating with other remote teams all over the globe on technology projects to help build an open and inclusive world. Inclusivity is not an easy path, but I believe it represents our best hope of creating a thriving future where the focus is not just on machines, productivity metrics and profits, but on what we can do for people.

Of course, technology is only one component of the push for inclusivity – widespread policy changes are also needed to support the movement. Across global capital markets, the winds of change are evident. Environmental, social and governance metrics are being prioritised, and more companies are making decisions based on what they believe is in the best interests of people of all colours, backgrounds and gender identities, as well as the planet.

As we live through these extraordinary times of fear, anxiety, devastation and loss of life caused by COVID-19, I have seen the love, generosity, goodness and kindness of others, which mirrors the reality that our generation is working towards for a sustainable and inclusive future. My hope is that Ministry For Good contributes to this movement – one where technology is central to creating an inclusive world.

By Katherine Ng, co-founder of Ministry For Good

This article first appeared in issue #90 of Trinity Today


24 Jun 2022
Category: People