There are many reasons to be thankful for mobile technology this season. Instead of battling the masses on black Friday, I can do all my shopping from my smartphone. A mobile app contains all the recipes we need for holiday dinner parties and a myriad of mobile gadgets are at the top of my family's holiday wish lists. But after recently serving as a judge for the Mobileys, I was reminded of how visionary innovators are harnessing the unique advantages of mobile technology to provide truly life-changing solutions to many of the challenges our communities face today.
This mobile-fueled progress was front and center in this year's Mobileys competition, where innovators from across the country submitted their early-stage wireless apps, services and products developed to make a positive impact on the world around us. Take, for example, First Place winner CureSearch CancerCare, a mobile app designed to help caregivers and parents cope with the complex and unfamiliar details of cancer treatment -- from scheduling to keeping track of medications. These innovators touched the hearts and minds of the judging panel by using mobile technology to strengthen the connection between patient and care team, with the goal of ensuring no family faces a cancer diagnosis alone.
In second place, SPROKIT takes criminal justice reform head on, developing a mobile app that reduces recidivism by giving people coming out of prison a clearer path to successful re-entry and greater opportunity. SPROKIT leverages the ubiquity of mobile devices to help the formerly incarcerated thrive in their transition from inmate to citizen.
The judging panel was also inspired by Pro: Up a mobile platform that matches students to educational and career development opportunities like classes, summer programs, internships, and jobs. The Pro: Up team -- high school counselors by day, app developers by night -- have fundamentally changed how students get the information they need to ignite their passions and define their careers.
Equally inspiring was the strong response from the public, who singled out St. Louis-based FoodShare as their favorite mobile innovation. With the goal of helping feed children and families, FoodShare is a mobile app that transforms restaurants into social enterprises and allows users to help fight hunger each time they eat out. What's more, the creators behind FoodShare developed the app while they were still college students, showing that with determination, a good idea and mobile technology, anything is possible.
It was amazing to see how brilliantly and boldly this year's winners are putting mobile technology to use to help solve some of society's biggest challenges: from caring for kids with cancer, to helping students connect with career opportunities, to reducing recidivism in our prisons to fighting hunger. These inspiring innovators -- along with so many other mobile innovators across the country and around the world -- capture the true spirit of the holiday season, representing what is possible when we combine ingenuity, hard work, and mobile connectivity to change the world for the better.