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ICT4D@Penn Seminar Series: Designing a More Equitable Internet

December 5, 2011
04:00PM - 05:30PM

Annenberg School for Communication, Room 500
3620 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, 19104

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Categories: Seminar

Abstract: How do we design appropriate and accessible information systems to serve the needs of poor, indigenous, remote and otherwise marginalized communities in the developing and developed world? What is the impact that new kinds of data and communications tools can have for improving transparency and trust in governance, aid and philanthropy? Dr. Parikh and his research group have recently developed Awaaz.De, a phone-based voice message board allowing small farmers in India to ask and answer agricultural questions. Using any phone, farmers navigate a voice interface to record questions, obtain answers from experts, and to listen to and answer the questions of others. This system has been deployed in Gujarat, India for over two years, consistently receiving hundreds of calls a week. Another project, LocalGround, is investigating the use of paper maps for collecting local geo-spatial knowledge. Users annotate paper maps using colored markers and stamps. These annotations are automatically extracted using a combination of simple computer vision and crowd-sourcing techniques.Local Ground was recently used by teenagers from Richmond, California for planning of a public park in their community, presenting their ideas to the mayor’s office.

In this talk, Dr. Parikh will explore several themes, including a) the design of cheap, “low-fidelity” interaction techniques allowing new populations to interact with and author content; b) the importance of “bottom-up” data for planning and evaluating development projects; and c) how “crowd data processing”, interleaving automated and human-driven steps, can bridge the gap between (a) and (b).

About the Speaker: Dr. Tapan Parikh is an Assistant Professor at the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley. Tapan’s research interests include human-computer interaction (HCI), mobile computing, speech UIs and information systems for microfinance, smallholder agriculture and global health. For the past 10+ years, Tapan has been designing, developing and deploying information systems in the rural developing world – initially in India, and now also in Latin America and Africa. Tapan and his students have started several technology companies serving rural communities and the development sector. He holds a Sc.B. degree in Molecular Modeling with Honors from Brown University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from the University of Washington, where he won the William Chan award for his Ph.D. dissertation. Tapan was named Technology Review magazine’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2007, and Esquire magazine called him one of the “Best and Brightest” in 2008.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Information Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) Seminar Series is a new interdisciplinary venture at Penn to bring together researchers, students, and leaders from all sectors who are interested in better understanding the role that ICTs play in international development, and the impact that they have on impoverished and under-resourced communities. The Series will bring together noted researchers, practitioners, and policy makers in the ICT4D field, and will provide a venue for the Penn community to explore this important area of work.

To RSVP, please email Laura Schwartz-Henderson (hyperlink to lsh@asc.upenn.edu)

For more information about the series, please visit the ICT4D website

ICT4D Seminar Series Faculty Core Group: Emily Hannum (Assoc Professor Sociology & Education, GR Chair Sociology),  John Jemmott (Kenneth B. Clark Professor, ASC), Monroe E. Price (Director, Center for Global Communication Studies, ASC), Carrie Kovarik (Asst Professor Dermatology, Dermatopathology, and Infectious Diseases, SOM), Joseph Sun (Vice Dean, SEAS), Dan Wagner (UNESCO Chair & Professor GSE)

PhD Student Coordinators: Deepti Chittamuru (ASC), Katie Murphy (GSE), David Conrad (ASC)

* The ICT4D Seminar is supported by the Provost’s Interdisciplinary Initiatives Fund, the Annenberg School for Communication, the Graduate School of Education/International Educational Development Program, and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Programmatic support is provided by Annenberg’s Center for Global Communication Studies.