Change is a group at the University of Washington exploring how technology
can improve the lives of underserved populations in low-income regions.

Faisal Hossain: Delivering Hydrological Information for Community Empowerment

April 24th, 2014 by Trevor Perrier

What: Faisal Hossain: Delivering Hydrological Information for Community Empowerment – Opportunities and Challenges for the Semi-skilled Consumer

When: Tuesday, April 29th at 12pm

Where: The Allen Center, CSE 203

Please join us Tuesday for an exciting  Change Seminar. Faisal Hossain from Civil Engineering Department will be talking about his work to monitor water use throughout the world.


An idea that has lately received some traction is that the space vantage of satellites to monitor water dynamics around the world would one day empower developing nations and their inhabitants currently cursed with not able to know early enough how much water will flow into or out of its borders or location. The current water information black out negatively impacts water resources management in about 50 or more developing nations that occupy only a small part of a large river basin. The dream of empowerment is founded on the belief that timely access to water information flowing in or out is a basic right for all nations and their inhabitants and that emerging satellite remote sensing are now poised to afford this right. This talk will provide an overview of challenges and the current progress made on making satellite remote sensing deliver this widely-accessible water information as decision-making knowledge to solve developing world water problems. The talk will also address the issue of water-borne disease vulnerability in the developing world and the potential synergy that satellite-based water information may afford. Finally, the talk will summarize some of the unresolved research and technological questions for enabling sovereign management of water resources for developing nations.

About the speaker:

Faisal Hossain is an Associate Professor in the Civil Engineering Department of University of Washington. He graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology with a B.S in Civil Engineering (1996) followed by a MS and PhD from National University of Singapore (1999) and University of Connecticut (2004), respectively. His research interests span the field of water resources issues, human impacts of climate and engineering education

Diana Marangu: Optimizing TB Contact Investigation in Nairobi, Kenya

April 20th, 2014 by Trevor Perrier

What: Diana Marangu: Optimizing TB Contact Investigation in Nairobi, Kenya

When: Tuesday, April 22th at 12pm

Where: The Allen Center, CSE 203

Please join us Tuesday for Change.  Diana Marangu will talking about her current  work on TB in Nairobi County.


My proposed PhD work focuses on identifying barriers, facilitators and potential solutions to TB contact investigation in Nairobi County in Kenya. This formative research will inform the design if implementation tools to address barriers in TB contact insuring the proposed solution is in  line with country and global efforts towards zero TB deaths, infections, suffering and stigma. The tools I propose are hoped to tackle stigma, sub-optimal patient education and inefficient documentation which are potentially modifiable barriers. The technological piece is a computerized contact register and mobile phone follow-up platform.

About the speaker:
Diana Marangu is a paediatrician and tutorial fellow at the University of Nairobi, Kenya.  For the past eighth months she has been in Seattle pursuing an MPH in Global Health while concurrently enrolled in a PhD in Implementation Science at the University of Nairobi.  She is passionate about preventive respiratory health and finding innovative sustainable solutions.

Robert Racadio: The work of community health workers in India: Opportunities for Design

April 14th, 2014 by Trevor Perrier

What: Robert Racadio: The work of community health workers in India: Opportunities for Design

When: Tuesday, April 15th at 12pm

Where: The Allen Center, CSE 203

Please join us tomorrow for Change.  Robert Racadio from Human Cantered Design and Engineering will be presenting on research on the work flows of Indian health workers.


Much of the work on mobile health technologies in low-resource settings has focused on providing health workers new tools for working in their communities. Finding design solutions most appropriate for them must be grounded in an understanding of their day-to-day work. Through field observations and interviews, this research seeks to understand the work and social practices of community health workers at primary health centers in India. I present stories and experiences of health workers from primary health centers in India, describing their responsibilities, strategies, and challenges of working in these centers. I conclude by exploring implications and opportunities for designing technologies that better support and augment their work.
About the speaker:
 Robert Racadio is a 3rd year PhD student in Human Centered Design and Engineering, where he is a member of the Tactile and Tactile and Tactical Design Lab, and is advised by Professor Beth Kolko. Robert is interested in understanding how to better design technologies that promote community well-being in low resource environments.

Neha Kumar: The Link Between ICT’s and Media Consumption

April 7th, 2014 by Trevor Perrier

What: Neha Kumar: The Link Between ICT’s and Media Consumption

When: Tuesday, April 8th at 12pm

Where: The Allen Center, CSE 203

Join us tomorrow for Change.  UW CSE postdoctoral researcher Neha Kumar will join us for a discussion on her work examining the relationship between ICT and media consumption in rural, small-town, and urban India.


Research initiatives in the fields of Information and Communication Technology and Development (ICTD) have largely overlooked leisure-driven uses of new media technologies in their efforts to address agricultural, educational, financial and other instrumental needs.

My research finds that affordable new media technologies have been significant in driving the procurement of entertainment content and the production of culture. Individuals from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds quickly become adept at using these technologies, paving the way for development-friendly outcomes. This is the phenomenon I analyze, as I examine individual agency in the intertwining of culture and new media in the context of dominant development narratives.
This talk will draw upon research that investigates the leisure-driven appropriation of the mobile phone by youth from marginal backgrounds in rural, small-town, and urban India. I study the influx of new media and its resulting impact in folk music-rich communities of rural Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Shifting focus to the motivations that drive youth towards mobile consumption of folk and popular media, I examine the unique material affordances of mobile technology and its influence on emerging media practices. Highlighting the notion of agency, both human and material, I investigate the pirate media network responsible for the widespread dissemination of digital media and technical skills. I then discuss the agency of urban Indian youth that guides them to further build on these skills as they negotiate various linguistic, social, and technological hurdles in their thirst to engage with social media.
About the speaker:
Neha is a postdoctoral researcher at UW CSE, where her research focuses on the design, production, and dissemination of visual media to address maternal and infant mortality in rural India. She recently completed her Ph.D. from the School of Information at UC Berkeley, where she conducted an ethnography of the adoption and self-guided uses of new media technologies of Indian youth from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. Her research objective is to contribute a deeper, more grounded understanding of emerging uses and users to the field of ICTD and its interventions. She is most at home in cross-disciplinary contexts, having worn the hats of computer scientist, education researcher, designer, data analyst, and ethnographer at various stages of her graduate work.

Cliff Schmidt – Reaching Beyond Mobile: Tech Solutions for Extreme Poverty Where Mobile Fails

March 30th, 2014 by Nicola Dell

Join us for the Change seminar this week where we will have a talk by Cliff Schmidt from Literacy Bridge.

Cliff started Literacy Bridge in 2007, leading the development of an audio-based mobile device called the “Talking Book” for people with minimal literacy skills living in rural areas without electricity or Internet access. Literacy Bridge now partners with UNICEF to use Talking Books to reach 40,000 people with new on-demand content every six weeks. Cliff received the Microsoft Alumni Foundation Integral Fellow Award by Bill and Melinda Gates and was awarded a Clinton Global Initiative membership by President Bill Clinton. He received the top prize at the Tech Awards in 2012 and Computerworld Honors in 2013, and was selected by the PBS Newshour as one of five Agents for Social Change in 2013.

Reaching remote villages with agriculture training and health promotion can dramatically reduce poverty, disease, and hunger. Mobile phones offer a solution in some cases: SMS messages can reach literate users, and voice calls can reach those who own a phone and can easily keep it charged. But in villages with 10% literacy rates, no electricity, and where most women don’t own a phone, mobile solutions have failed — and this is where you find extreme poverty. Radio broadcasts address these challenges but run into others: listeners must be available during the broadcast and they must remember everything they hear.  Illiterate users, who cannot take notes, must rely on their memories when the information is needed; otherwise, they need an on-demand solution. Cloud services and smart, connected, devices are increasingly able to distribute digital information right up to the last mile, but not beyond. Join us to discuss our experience leveraging mobile devices, but reaching beyond them with a simple, durable, audio device that provides on-demand messages while capturing metrics and user feedback to send back via mobile technology to cloud-based services.

What: Cliff Schmidt from Literacy Bridge

When: Tuesday, April 1st at 12 noon

Where: The Allen Center, CSE 203