Benetech Labs Latest Projects

Photo of a SocialCoding4Good tech talk for VMware employeesPhoto of Benetech staff brainstorming at whiteboard.Photo of an event in which SocialCoding4Good worked with NASA to challenge software developers to leverage NASA's graphing tool MathTrax in order to improve the accessibility of science and math textbooks in Bookshare.

Benetech Labs — Some of Our Latest Projects

Here you can read more about some of the latest software for social good applications we are pursuing. In some cases, these ideas are already in prototype form, and we’re helping groups figure out how to build a sustainable social enterprise to deliver the software.

You can also check out the complete list of our Labs projects.

Graphic of Benetech's logo, a globe with a binary code.

Mother and child smile at each otherWe’re all about open source software for social good. Our Benetech Open Referral project makes it easier to share and maintain information on local services that are available for people who need them the most. These critical services can include food, shelter, healthcare, immigration, job training, childcare, legal, and family support services. How do we do this? At the heart of our model is an open standards data exchange platform that enables resource data to be shared in real-time across pretty much any tool on-the-ground service providers may use.

By successfully coordinating data among multiple stakeholders, our Open Referral project can generate tools and practices that yield transformative change for communities that need these services. Here are a few of the benefits:

  • Better access to services for people in need.
  • Decrease in data maintenance costs and increase in data quality.
  • Acceleration of innovation for new tools, apps, and projects.
  • Meaningful use of data in research, analysis, and decision-making.

Smiling woman working with a laptopCombining digital security training and gaming, who knew? Our Digital Security Training ARG (Alternate Reality Games) asks training participants to investigate and complete tasks in a fictitious storyline through their real-world devices and interactions with each other. Our conceptual ARG would allow leadership at human rights organizations to enroll their field workers into a simulated training environment. Cool, huh? The platform can include several exercises that guide users to complete tasks within the digital security space. Training modules can include: identifying phishing, malware prevention, creating strong passwords, secure phone calls, Off the Record chat, secure email, removing identifying metadata from media, HTTPS cert checking, using Tor, etc.

To learn more, check out our ARG video.


Three women smiling Got secure data sharing? Our data cohort software provides a data collaboration platform for use by nonprofits and the communities they work with across multiple issue areas. Data can be a valuable tool to improve social good programs and aid communities only if it is captured accurately, consistently, and securely. But it’s more than that. It needs to be done in a way the enables sharing of the data across stakeholders and partners. An example of our data cohort platform is the Poverty Stoplight project. In coordination with our partner Fundación Paraguaya, our platform is being leveraged to empower impoverished families to plan their own, personalized path out of poverty. They become active partners in change via mobile-enabled, visual, self-assessment surveys that customize aid priorities. Projected benefits of using this secure, mobile data collection tool for the Poverty Stoplight project include increasing the number of community participants in the process, improved data collection and analysis, and enhanced reliability of the conclusions reached on the project.

Slide that explains how Benetech's app MathML Cloud works.

Click to enlarge this visual rendition of how MathML Cloud works.

Our MathML Cloud tool, is a cloud-based app using open standards that automatically creates accurate images and image descriptions of mathematical expressions, while retaining the detailed math markup for reference. What’s more, it allows content developers to accurately express digitized math and render it through visual display and alternative access means, such as synthetic speech and braille. But most important, this service will provide access to math for students who have visual disabilities or learning differences. We’re making it possible for all student to have access to math concepts that are critical for successful Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education.

To learn more, take a look read at our MathML Cloud page, and read our related blog posts.