It’s not easy to create something that makes a positive impact on people all around the world. Ivan Caballero has done it. Twice.
Caballero is CEO and founder of Social Coin, a Barcelona-based organization that began in 2013 as a movement, not a company, to inspire acts of kindness and good behavior through the exchange of trackable social coins that serve as rewards. Today, Social Coin has evolved into a technology leader still dedicated to making the world a better place. He’s followed up the social coin phenomenon with Citibeats, an artificial intelligence-based analytics platform that helps businesses and governmental organizations identify social trends and concerns.
The Citibeats platform identifies social trends and concerns, and discovers, categorizes, and synthesizes people’s opinions from large quantities of data, offering qualitative analysis and sentiment insights that bring human meaning to the data. Caballero explains, “Our proprietary machine-learning algorithms transform a community’s natural language data into valuable intelligence that empowers decision makers.”
Citibeats is used by cities including Barcelona and Dublin to measure citizens’ direct feedback related to social issues and allows those communities to better measure and understand specific local conditions. In Catalonia, Spain, for example, officials were concerned about the decreasing number of girls studying STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), but they weren’t sure how to address the issue. Using Citibeats, the city analyzed what the girls were saying about STEM and what attracted them to certain programs. Through the analysis, Catalonia is now creating programs to address the girls’ concerns. “As a result, the number of girls in STEM programs is expected to increase next year after several years of decline, thanks to understanding motivations through technology,” Caballero said.
Social rewards for building better communities
Caballero has been a serial entrepreneur for nearly two decades, building five start-ups, including one that was forced to close after its biggest customer abruptly shut down. “Ten minutes after that happened, my wife called to tell me she was pregnant. So, in one hour I went from being a successful entrepreneur to a failure, to going to be a father,” he said.
The sudden shift in his life led Caballero to reevaluate his priorities and focus on improving human behavior. “I’ve been building a lot of stuff you can die doing, but I thought, ‘What am I living for?’ I wanted to reward kindness with more kindness.”
Studies have shown that 93% of people lack the motivation to help others, Caballero noted. But if people are rewarded, they’ll do more. Therefore, the Social Coin was born.
One by one, Caballero’s team introduced social coins into the public, inspiring others to perform their own good deeds and asking them to pass the trackable coin along to others doing the same thing. The movement went viral, and to date, more than 20,000 social coins have been distributed, more than 100 corporations, educational institutions, and communities have licensed the technology, inspiring more than 1 million good deeds in more than 70 countries—including recently by the head of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce. In 2015, The Social Coin was honored by the United Nations with a World Summit Award and as part of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Program.
Caballero then turned his attention to the next big step—helping governments and other organizations better understand their citizens’ and employees’ concerns and develop a system that could reward behavior that addressed those concerns.
Enter Citibeats. The company’s proprietary algorithms transform a community’s natural language data (from social media, news, RSS, etc.) into valuable intelligence that identifies and categorizes social trends—providing customers with accurate situational analysis and prioritization of solutions.
A recent example of this application was in a project in Barcelona which revealed concerns about traffic, parking, and other transportation/mobility issues. The feedback can give cities better information on which to formulate a strategy.
Caballero said, “We see all these things that a person can do for their community. If you do something, you can collect points that can be redeemed for food, education or other important needs. That’s where we are going and technology will help us get there.”
Further, Social Coin is building a qualified partner-packaged solution around social engagement, Caballero said, and the organization has ambitious plans for future applications. “The next challenge for us is powering the cryptocurrencies of the future. We imagine a future in which everyone works less time. There’s an abundance of machines doing more work and there’s a potential solution for universal basic income and bonuses based on how much someone contributes to society.
“We will develop the software that can evaluate that,” Caballero added. “That’s our moonshot, but it’s what we believe in and we believe we can help.”
For more on how technology can help businesses improve lives, see The Purpose-Driven Business: Going Beyond Feel-Good Rhetoric.