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

Chirs Coward on TASCHA

November 2nd, 2015 by Trevor Perrier

Please join us for the this Change this week as we continue to get to know more about the Change community here at UW. Chris Coward from the Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA) will be giving an overview of the awesome research going on at TASCHA.

What: Change at UW: TASCHA 

When: Tuesday, Nov 3 at 12pm

Where: The Allen Center, CSE 203

Abstract: The Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA) at the University of Washington Information School explores the design, use, and effects of information and communication technologies in communities facing social and economic challenges. In this talk, director Chris Coward will provide an introduction to the center and share some of its current work focused on three projects. First is information literacy for mobile-centric users, a collaboration with the Jackson School and partners in Myanmar that is developing curriculum for internet newcomers coming online via mobile phones. The second is a study of MOOCs based on fieldwork in South Africa, the Philippines and Colombia that seeks to understand barriers to uptake and recommend design improvements for MOOC providers. Lastly, is a preview of upcoming work on public library innovation.

Bio: Chris Coward is the co-founder, Principal Research Scientist, and Director of the Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA) at the University of Washington Information School. Under his leadership, TASCHA has grown in size and scope, encompassing research in over 50 countries. Chris specializes in designing research programs that improve policy and practice around the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and development, with a particular focus on public libraries.  Chris’s current interests include innovation, entrepreneurship and employability, digital inclusion, and impact evaluation and measurement. Chris holds a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Arts in International Studies, both from the University of Washington

Two ICTD CHI Talks: Aditya Vashistha and Trevor Perrier

April 13th, 2015 by Trevor Perrier

Please join us this week in the Change Seminar.  Aditya Vashistha and Trevor Perrier will be presenting work from published at CHI 2015 happening next week.

What: Two ICTD CHI Talks: Aditya Vashistha and Trevor Perrier

When: Tuesday, April 14 at 12pm

Where: The Allen Center, CSE 203

Paper Abstracts

Engaging Pregnant Women in Kenya with a Hybrid  Computer-Human SMS Communication System

A growing body of HCI4D research studies the use of SMS communication to deliver health and information services to underserved populations. This paper contributes a novel dimension to this field of study by examining if a hybrid computer-human SMS system can engage pregnant women in Kenya in health-related communication. Our approach leverages the different strengths of both the computer and the human. The computer automates the bulk-sending of personalized messages to patients, allowing the human to read patients’ replies and respond to those in need of attention. Findings from a 12-month deployment with 100 women show that our approach is capable of engaging the majority of participants in health-related conversations. We show that receiving messages from the system triggers participant communication and the amount of communication increases as participants approach their expected due date. In addition, analysis of participants’ messages shows that they often contain sensitive health information conveyed through a complex mixture of languages and ‘txting’ abbreviations, all of which highlight the benefits of including a human in the workflow. Our findings are relevant for HCI researchers and practitioners interested in understanding or engaging underserved populations.
Sangeet Swara: A Community-Moderated Voice Forum in Rural India
Interactive voice forums have emerged as a promising platform for people in developing regions to record and share audio messages using low-end mobile phones. However, one of the barriers to the scalability of voice forums is the process of screening and categorizing content, often done by a dedicated team of moderators. We present Sangeet Swara, a voice forum for songs and cultural content that relies on the community of callers to curate high-quality posts that are prioritized for playback to others. An 11-week deployment of Sangeet Swara found broad and impassioned usage, especially among visually impaired users. We also conducted a follow-up experiment, called Talent Hunt, that sought to reduce reliance on toll-free telephone lines. Together, our deployments span about 53,000 calls from 13,000 callers, who submitted 6,000 posts and 150,000 judgments of other content. Using a mixed-methods analysis of call logs, audio content, comparison with outside judges, and 204 automated phone surveys, we evaluate the user experience, the strengths and weaknesses of community moderation, financial sustainability, and the implications for future systems.

Bio: Aditya Vashistha is a second year PhD student in CSE.  Prior to coming to UW he was at MSRI working with the Technologies for Emerging Markets group.  His research interests are in the domain of Information and Communication Technologies for Development, Human-Computer Interaction for Development, Social Computing and Ubiquitous Computing.

Trevor Perrier is a third year PhD student in CSE.  He works closely with UW Global health to implement SMS projects for behaviour change.  He is interested in building systems that engage individuals through ubiquitous  communication technology.

Neha Kumar: Community-Led Video Education for Maternal Health

April 7th, 2015 by Trevor Perrier

The first Change Talk of the quarter is today.  Please join us and welcome Neha back as she talks about the Projecting Health project which she will be presenting at ICTD 2015 in May.

What: Community-Led Video Education for Maternal Health – Neha Kumar

When: Tuesday, April 7 at 12pm

Where: The Allen Center, CSE 203

Projecting Health: Community-Led Video Education for Maternal Health

In this talk, I will present a qualitative study of Projecting Health, a public health project we deployed in rural Uttar Pradesh (India) to address persistently high maternal and infant mortality rates. This project is based on our model of Community-led Video Education (CVE), which leverages community resources for the generation, dissemination, and assimilation of visual media. We use the lens of information flows to examine how our instantiation of CVE enables the translation of globally approved health care norms to local household practices. We also demonstrate how CVE allows for integration with current community practices, existing state-supported health care infrastructure, social and patriarchal structures, and power dynamics within our target populations to drive community participation.   A copy of the paper can be found here: ICTD2015_Kumar

Bio: Neha Kumar is a postdoctoral researcher at the Annenberg School of Communication in University of Southern California. Prior to this, she was at the University of Washington for a year, working as a postdoc with Profs. Richard Anderson and Gaetano Borriello in the Computer Science and Engineering department. She completed her PhD at the School of Information at UC Berkeley, where she was advised by Prof. Tapan Parikh.

Current Research Lighting Talks

March 2nd, 2015 by Trevor Perrier

What:  Research Lightning Talks

When: Tuesday, March 3 at 12pm

Where: The Allen Center, CSE 203

Please join us this week for the last Change Seminar of the quarter.  This week we will be having lighting talks from CS and iSchool grad students.  This is a great opportunity to learn about some of the current research going on at UW right now.

 Each lighting talk will be 8-10 min with some time for questions and answers while we switch speakers.
Lassana Magassa on Digital Literacy Level of the Incarcerated
Abstract: A proposal to validate a framework of digital literacy that includes a social behavioral dimension and an instrument designed to measure the digital literacy level of those incarcerated. Additionally, trying to uncover what being digital literate means for individuals leaving prison and returning to the community.
Bio: Lassana Magassa is a 6th year PhD candidate developing instruments to measure the digital literacy level of incarcerated people. He is in the Information School and is advised by Karine Nahon.
Trevor Perrier on USSD as a Patient Interface
Abstract: A proposal for extending two-way SMS messaging to an USSD based menu system. What would such a system look like, how could it be used, would it provide a net benefit to justify the costs.
Bio: Trevor Perrier is a 3rd year PhD student working with SMS for data reporting and health literacy.  He is in the Computer Science and Engineering department and advised by Richard Anderson.

Raza Khan on Behavioral Modeling for Churn Prediction in Developing Countries
Abstract: This presentation is going to describe our work on churn prediction on data from a Telecom Operator of South Asia. A key highlight of our work is the identification of some unexpected features of customer attrition.
Bio: Muhammad Raza Khan is a 2nd year PhD student in the Information School, University of Washington working under Dr. Joshua Blumenstock. Raza has been working on different big data projects related to product adoption and churn.

Philip Reed on Patterns of mobile phone use based on gender and work status.
Abstract: In this work, in collaboration with Raza Rehman, we are examining patterns of mobile phone use between men and women, further subdivided into women who work outside the home and those who do not. We aim to help disentangle conflicting claims in the literature about whether differential access to ICT is primarily a reflection of general socio-cultural marginalization or whether it has other stronger roots.
Bio: Philip J. Reed is a 3rd year PhD student in the Information School. Within the field of ICTD, he studies the effects of access to technology on people’s job and career aspirations. His adviser is Ricardo Gomez.

Samia Razaq – Maternal and Child Health Projects in Pakistan

February 16th, 2015 by Trevor Perrier

What:  Samia Razaq – Maternal and Child Health Projects in Pakistan

When: Tuesday, Feb 17 at 12pm

Where: The Allen Center, CSE 203

Please join us this week for Change.  Smaia Razaq from ITU-Punjab will be presenting information needs surrounding maternal health awareness in Pakistan.


Pakistan has the third highest maternal deaths in South Asia. Globally, more than 350,000 women die each year from preventable complications linked to pregnancy. Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) is relatively higher in developing countries with a concentration in rural and underserved communities. In Pakistan around 30,000 women die each year due to the pre and postnatal complications.

In this talk Samia Razaq talks about three maternal health mHealth initiatives from ITU-Punjab to address these issues.  Projects include an SMS and IVR system to inform women about family planning, pre-maternal illness and general health, a digitized Android based IMCI protocol being deployed at Ganga Ram hospital, and work on digitizing immunization records.  All three projects help alleviate health information gaps among women, communities and health officials.

About the speaker:

Samia Razaq completed her Masters in Computer Sciences from the School of Science and Engineering (SSE) at LUMS. During her time at LUMS, she was part of the research lab, Neighborhood for Emerging World Technologists (NEWT). As part of her research work she worked in the area of ICTD and Language Technologies and worked on several collaborative projects with the Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA.

Currently, Samia is teaching the D-Lab course at ITU-Punjab, which is inspired from D-Lab MIT, where she hopes to relay her knowledge of 6 years of research in robotics and ICT4D to the students. She believes that a person can better impact the world, by building solutions and designing systems that facilitate the development of the world.