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

Capstone Presentations

June 1st, 2014 by Trevor Perrier

What: Capstone Presentations

When: Tuesday, June 3rd at 12pm

Where: The Allen Center, CSE 403 (NOT CSE 203)

This week at Change four groups from undergrad capstone class on designing technology for resource-constrained environments will be presenting on their group projects.  The capstone is a two quarter class with the first quarter focused on design and the second focused on implementation.

The four group projects are listed below and each will present for 10 min.

DashTricks: Tablet for District Manager – Tanzania

Hadiza Ismaila, Michael Kutz, Bryan Martin, Jian Zhao

DashTricks is an Android tablet application that provides district immunization managers in Tanzania with a dashboard for monitoring the performance of key immunization indicators in health facilities in their districts. Our project aims to give district managers a sense of ownership over their data to help them realize problems and make better vaccine management decisions intuitively and correctly.


IcePAK: Tablet for National Manager – Pakistan

Jennifer Apacible, Brian Donohue, Austin Hedeen, Daniel Luna, Dov Shlachter

Here is a brief description of our project:
IcePAK is a mobile application focussed on vaccine cold chain
management in Pakistan. It’s goal is to integrate large amounts of
data into easily consumable forms, enabling decision makers and
managers to allocate resources effectively. High visibility of problem
areas, and automated allocation recommendations, allows these at risk
locations to recognised early and dealt with efficiently.


Training App for Laos

Sam Brender, Tore Hanssen, James Lee, Sang-Wha Sien

We are developing a tablet-based training application that will be used to train health workers in Laos.  The initial purpose of the application is to train workers on how to use an SMS-based vaccine stock reporting system, but it will be used for other training in the future. Some of the challenges this group has faced: designing for potentially non-technical users, creating an extensible application for future training needs, and simplifying the application update and synchronization process.

SMS Immunization Manager

Jennifer Kang, Isaac Reynolds, Jackson Roberts, Nicholas Shahan

The SMS Immunization Manager (SIM) is an easy-to-install and easy-to-customize system that allows community health workers to report information about the vaccine cold chain (such as fridge temperature and condition) by SMS rather than paper forms. SIM’s main features include robust SMS-based operations that correctly handle even poorly-formatted messages and a moderation web application for administrators to review the system’s operation. The system will be deployed in Laos in the coming months and possibly to other countries after.


Trevor Perrier: Mobile WaCH – A Bidirectional SMS Messaging Platform for Maternal Health

May 27th, 2014 by Trevor Perrier

What: Trevor Perrier

When: Tuesday, May 27th at 12pm

Where: The Allen Center, CSE 203

Please join us for this weeks Change Seminar.  CSE graduate student Trevor Perrier will be presenting work done in collaboration with UW Global Health on creating an SMS messaging system and using it in randomized controlled trial for maternal health awareness  in Nairobi Kenay.


In this talk, I describe Mobile WaCH (Women and Child Health) – a collaboration between the Computer Science and Engineering and Global Health departments at the University of Washington the University of Nairobi and Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi. Mobile WaCH is a controlled experiment piloting a bidirectional SMS messaging platform for public health awareness and behavior change with the goal of improve antenatal and postnatal health. Starting in September 2013 we began registering pregnant women at Mathare North Clinic outside of Nairobi. Women are randomized into one of three groups: a control who receive no SMS messages, a one-way group who receive health messaging content only, and a two-way group who are asked direct questions via SMS and communicate with a study nurse who can reply to each message through a custom web management console. Maternal health messaging begins 20 weeks before the estimated date of delivery and continuous 10 weeks after birth. Initial findings show 30% of the two way group respond to 40% of the messages and 60% respond to 20%. I will describe design considerations for building the platform, lesson learned since the study began and plans for future development.

About the speaker:

Trevor Perrier is a second year grad student at UW working with Richard Anderson and Gaetano Borriello in the ICTD lab in Computer Science and Engineering. His interests lie at the intersections of HCI and global development with a particular focus on ICTD related education initiatives. At UW Trevor has worked on three main ICTD projects: Projecting Health which uses pico projectors to display maternal health related videos in Uttar Pradesh, India; an SMS backed for receiving monthly vaccine reports in Laos; and Mobile WaCH which is an automated SMS messaging system for maternal health education and is being deployed in collaboration with UW Global Health.


Aditya Vashistha: Brainstorming Research Projects at the intersection of Human Computation and ICTD

May 18th, 2014 by Trevor Perrier

What: Aditya Vashistha

When: Tuesday, May 20th at 12pm

Where: The Allen Center, CSE 203

Please join us for this weeks Change Seminar.  CSE graduate student Aditya Vashistha will be presenting two new ideas he has for future work and looking for feedback from the Change community.


In this brainstorming session, we will talk about two projects at the intersection of ICTD and Human Computation.

Voice-based Microtasking Platform

Our aim is to design, build and evaluate a voice-based microtasking platform to enable low-income low-literate marginalized communities in India to perform wide range of audio micro tasks using their basic phone. The microtasking platform will run on an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) service where people will call a number to perform tasks from a collection of audio tasks. For tasks that require objective response like multiple choice response, a worker will input response by pressing keys on the phone. For tasks that require subjective response like translation task, a worker will perform task by recording the audio response in an active call session. Workers will be compensated for their efforts in the form of mobile airtime top-ups which are very common in the developing countries.

Second Project: Generating Keywords for Audio Content in Local Languages

In recent years, various researchers and practitioners have deployed IVR systems to collect data from and provide information to low-literate low-income marginalized communities. Some notable IVR systems include CGNet Swara for citizen journalism, Avaaj Otalo for agriculture information discussion, IBM’s Spoken Web for local content creation and dissemination, Polly and Sangeet Swara for providing entertainment content, Healthline for disseminating health information, and Ila Dhageyso for civic engagement. Though these IVR systems have been successful in engaging marginalized communities in instrumental as well as non-instrumental discussions, one of the major drawback of these systems is the inability to search and index the content generated in languages spoken in the developing world. This deteriorates usability for both IVR users, and Internet users who browse these datasets.

Our solution is to create a crowdsourcing smartphone application which will play audio files one after other. Users will choose icons corresponding to the keywords they identify while listening to audio files, and thus will generate keywords for the audio content produced in local languages.

About the speaker:
Aditya Vashistha is currently pursuing PhD in Computer Science at the University of Washington where he design, build and evaluate technologies for marginalized rural and urban communities to improve their access to information. His research focus is to build and evaluate scalable voice based communication platforms that enables the next billion people to access the Internet, social media platforms, and crowdsourcing platforms on their non-Internet-enabled mobile phones. Earlier, he also conducted research at Microsoft Research India and Infosys Labs. You can read more about him at

Carla Villoria and Alan Krumholz: Impact Sourcing – changing the role of disadvantaged youth in the global economy

May 12th, 2014 by Trevor Perrier

What: Carla Villoria and Alan Krumholz: Impact Sourcing – changing the role of disadvantaged youth in the global economy.

When: Tuesday, May 13th at 12pm

Where: The Allen Center, CSE 203

Please join us Tuesday for another exciting Change Seminar.  Carla Villoria and Alan Krumholz will be joining us to talk about their Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC) entry and their efforts to expand it beyond to the competition to Microsoft.


Industry trends show that a growing number of companies are searching for socially responsible services while still achieving efficiency and cost advantage. Impact Sourcing, a social-driven outsourcing approach to Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) focuses on employing the poor and vulnerable. While still relatively new, with approximately 144,000 workers and a market size of about $4.5 billion, Impact Sourcing is an exciting, emerging space expected to reach $20 billion by 2016 and employ 1.4 million underprivileged workers worldwide.

Carla and Alan are very passionate about this topic and became finalists with their GSEC entry to bring impact sourcing to Mexico. They also lead a grassroots initiative to bring the impact sourcing model to Microsoft on a large scale. They have partnered with the citizenship office and global procurement to drive the concept forward. They are currently in conversations with various business groups at Microsoft and some impact sourcing organizations to find outsourcing opportunities for this model.

Please join us to hear about their business proposal as well as their journey to bring this model to Microsoft.

About the speaker:

Carla Villoria was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela until she was 20 years old and migrated to U.S. due to political issues in her home country. She graduated with a degree in Computer Science and a minor in Business from Texas A&M University, and became a full-time employee at Microsoft Corporate Headquarters in July 2011, where she works today. She joined the company as part of a rotational program for which she completed four 6-month rotations across the company – she worked as a technical project manager of security tools, developed the Microsoft IT strategy and the CIO scorecard, was an analyst in the Finance World Wide Organization in Munich Germany, and worked as a Quality & Business Excellence consultant. She is currently a Solution Manager in the Modern IT team, driving the implementation of a company-wide work stream to increase adoption of digital productivity. Carla recently started pursuing an Executive Masters in Public Administration from the Evans School at the University of Washington.

Alan Krumholz was born and raised in Mexico City and graduated with a Computer Science degree from Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. He has worked for Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, Oracle’s special projects group, and then joined Microsoft as part of the accelerated professional experiences rotational program. He had the opportunity to work as a software engineer for the Product Activation, Global Strategic Initiatives, and Windows Phone teams before changing his career path and becoming a data scientist. He currently works for the Microsoft’s Data and Decision Sciences group, a team that provides advanced analytic consulting services to very diverse internal and external clients. He serves the team as a subject matter expert in Machine Learning, Big Data, Statistical Modeling, Natural Language Processing, and Software Development. Alan is half-way through a Professional Computer Science Masters at the University of Washington.

Carla and Alan are intrapeneurs at Microsoft. Together, they have put in place many internal programs related to corporate citizenship and philanthropy, and have a great established relationship with the Citizenship team at Microsoft as well as other citizenship-related teams around the company.

Some of the initiative they have driven together are the following:

  • Drive the implementation of the Leaders in Action program, from ideation to execution, for the Microsoft IT organization (4,000 people). A program to build leadership, collaboration, and innovation skills in employees by empowering them to drive change through impactful social development projects. Essentially giving employees the opportunity to spend 15% of their time working in social good projects with non-profits around the world. Three pilot projects will kick off in July 2014.
  •  Implemented the Microsoft Ambassadors Program to improve the current volunteer efforts of employees and better support nonprofits all over the world
  • Drove the end-to-end implementation and deployment of the Explore Program, an initiative for rotational program members to dedicate 20 business days out of a 6 month period to social good projects outside of their rotation work. The program kicked off in July 2013 and 10% of members signed up for projects, half with local nonprofits and the other half went to work on projects in Kenya with an internal initiative called 4Afrika.
  •  Assisted the Microsoft 4Afrika initiative shape their company-wide volunteer program, and volunteer with them to deliver project management and business intelligence trainings in Nigeria.
  •  Members of the leadership team for the Net Impact Microsoft corporate chapter

Abraham Flaxman – Measuring mortality rates in Iraq: Technologies for generating credible estimates of deaths caused by the 2003-2011 war and occupation

May 2nd, 2014 by Trevor Perrier

What: Abraham Flaxman – Measuring mortality rates in Iraq: Technologies for generating credible estimates of deaths caused by the 2003-2011 war and occupation

When: Tuesday, May 6th at 12pm

Where: The Allen Center, CSE 203

Please join us Tuesday for another exciting Change Seminar.  Abie Flaxman from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation will be talking about recent work on methods for estimating the mortality rate in Iraq.


Over the last 4 years, I helped a team of doctors and epidemiologists to measure the number of deaths cause directly and indirectly by the US-led invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq.  Producing this estimate turned out to be technically challenging and politically controversial, as I expected.  In this talk, I will describe some of the math, stats, and computer science for producing such a quantity and for making it stick.

About the speaker:

Abraham Flaxman, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. He is the research lead for the Computational Algorithms research team. Dr Flaxman is the primary architect of a software tool known as DisMod-MR that IHME is using to estimate the Global Burden of Disease. He and other researchers use the tool to fill in gaps in incomplete data on stroke, malaria, depression, and other diseases from government records and surveys and to correct for inconsistencies.