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How Chinese technology is doing its bit for social good

Charity work is becoming more accessible than ever. A click on your cell phone is what it takes to help make a difference, said Chinese tech giants at the Internet Good Summit, initiated by Tencent Foundation on June 13.

Smartphone applications can adopt artificial intelligence (AI) technology to help find missing people, and some of them are already cooperating with police departments.

YouTu Lab is an AI research lab under Tencent focusing on machine learning. It has a database that covers a hundred million faces in China, and uses algorithms to account for age differences, and can see through masks or any other objects covering the face.

Since going online through Fujian province’s police app in March, 124 missing people out of 330 reported cases have been found.

“When you see someone on the street who might need help, just take a quick photo of her or him and search it on our app, then you might find who that is,” says Zhou Kejing, Senior Product Manager of Youtu.

Some tech firms are developing apps that can monitor air emissions.

Blue Map uses social media to expose companies polluting beyond legal limits, forcing local environment authorities to put pressure on the polluters to change. The app is still trying to get more companies online.

“Under the new air pollution law, more companies have fallen under the umbrella. We’re pushing for more compliance. So the public can see more data,” says Ruan Qingyuan, Technical Director with the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Internet technology also builds easier access to modern education for students in China’s 9,000 remote schools. Tencent Foundation has established a platform to maximize NGOs’ exposure, with its enormous 800 million strong WeChat user base.

As one of China’s leading internet companies, Tencent is picturing a connection of community-level NGOs, donors, benefactors and philanthropic organizations for future philanthropy, according to Charles Chen, co-founder of Tencent.

Representatives of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also attended the summit, and they agree that China’s tech solutions can also be applied globally.

“China is absolutely leading the financial service area globally. And part of our role is to work with Chinese partners to become a more effective player in global health and global challenges,” says Yinuo Li, China Office Director of the Gates Foundation.