Andrés Monroy-Hernández
2013, Mexico
“Narco-tweets” and web technologies to empower citizens
Computer Science

Neither education nor economy can be understood without new technologies anymore, and even social and political changes are based on new communication tools. Andres Monroy’s projects use technology as a basis for solving society´s problems, from the need to promote learning and creativity among children, to health access in remote locations or the flow of information generated during crises of armed conflict.

This innovator from Mexico co-founded two social software applications: the online community Scratch, where children (and adults) can learn programming easily and intuitively, and Sana, where expert medical knowledge is made accessible to developing areas where to the availability of quality health care is scarce.

The Sana application, which began as a student project during Andrés Monroy-Hernández´s studies at MIT, was subsequently deployed in several developing countries and has given hundreds of people access to accurate medical diagnoses. Moreover, through Scratch he has provided an alternative for young people to become creators and inventors of digital content. Currently this web community has more than one and a half million users who develop and share their own animations or games over the internet. The initial idea of helping young people to learn programming has gone further, becoming an alternative for the development of creative expression and a way to reduce the gap between the consumption and creation of digital content.

His most recent project Narcotweets seeks to establish social networks as a tool to incorporate civic participation in the fight against drug trafficking. In the most conflictive areas of Mexico these networks have become an essential tool of anonymous communication, complementing or even replacing traditional information channels and government institutions.

Andres has been named one of the emerging leaders by the Boston Business Journal, and has won awards from Ars Electronica and the MacArthur Foundation for Digital Media and Learning. He has also collaborated with various academic conferences and forums, corporations, and non-governmental organizations, and his scientific publications have received multiple awards.