An inspiring and refreshing look at stories that made us think in the past week. At Citizen State, we're always striving for a better future - and sometimes the seeds of that future start today. Begin your week with hope by reading Citizen State Weekly. If you have any tips or would like us to feature your story, reach out at email@example.com.
Virtual reality is being used to enhance telemedicine and help patients recover from strokes by using robotic devices and VR headsets at Georgia Institute of Technology. The patients undergoing neurorehabilitation are outfitted with devices called Motus, which are strapped to their arms and legs to speed up recovery and assist with rehabilitation exercises. The headset sends feedback to the clinician, who can guide the patient through exercises in real-time. The use of VR has resulted in more accelerated patient outcomes, such as improvements in range of motion, pain reduction, and greater adherence to treatment plans. Despite drawbacks such as image quality and non-intuitive user interfaces, virtual reality holds a lot of promise for improving telemedicine, surgery, and medical training.
The We Can Make project has built "micro homes" for people affected by homelessness in Bristol, UK. The homes are built from woodchip building blocks and powered by renewable energy, and are located in unused spaces. The charity has approached Bristol City Council with a plan for building affordable and sustainable homes on small bits of land in the Knowle West estate in south Bristol. In exchange for the land on a long lease from the council, it delivers affordable homes for rent to members of the community. So far, the project has delivered two homes, but more are under way. The community is in charge of the number of homes built and what materials they are made from. The idea has been described as "brilliant" by Toby Lloyd, a former housing adviser in Theresa May's government, and has the potential to be replicated across England.
The EDISON Alliance was established in 2021 as a collaboration between industry, governments, and the World Economic Forum with an aim to ensure all communities can take part in the digital economy. Health is one of its three focus areas, with the goal of improving 1 billion lives by 2025 using innovative public-private partnerships and technology integration. Shobana Kamineni, executive vice chairperson of Apollo Hospitals in India, is a board member and discussed how digital health tools can bring affordable, quality health care to people across geographies and create sustainable models in terms of return on investment, reducing the cost of care. She mentioned the example of a pilot project in India where five digital dispensaries were set up to provide health care services to 200 villages with a population of 250,000. The initiative has been successful in bringing the cost of service to less than $6 on average. The Alliance has set up a Lighthouse Countries Network to ease new partnerships, incentivize projects, and unlock capital at scale. It has also created a tool called the Digital Inclusion Navigator to see what's happening in real-world projects and the impact they are having.
Shazia Ramzan, a nursing student at Edinburgh University, is raising funds for Pakistani charities that help Afghan girls gain access to education. There are currently five million girls in Afghanistan who are out of school and at risk of punishment if they attend underground schools run by their parents and teachers. Shazia is also preparing to start her own nurses' training school in Pakistan. Education Cannot Wait (ECW), which aims to bridge the divide between humanitarian aid and development aid by providing access to education, is asking donors for $1.5bn to support its new strategic plan. This plan includes the provision of safe schools in areas affected by Boko Haram, the expansion of online learning, and double-shift schools in refugee areas. Girls are 35% more likely to be out of school than boys, and the number of girls being forced into child marriages is expected to increase by an extra 10 million by 2030.
The cost of launching objects into space has fallen in the last decade, leading to a surge of interest and investment in the sector. There are now private efforts to establish space-based solar energy platforms, moon and asteroid mining, space logistics and tourism businesses, research and development into essential microgravity applications, and space-based manufacturing. NASA's share of the space economy has declined as the commercial space sector has become a key market driver, freeing up the public sector to invest in riskier activities like solar system exploration. This mix of private and public efforts, which includes a role for American universities, has been over six decades in the making. Space tourism started in 1996 with the Ansari X Prize, while in 2005 NASA collaborated with the private sector to develop cargo and crew transportation capabilities. In 2019, NASA opened the International Space Station to new commercial opportunities and private astronauts.