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

Sara Vannini – Use of Mobile Devices in Public Access to ICTs

February 9th, 2016 by Trevor Perrier

Please join us for Change this week we are excited to have Sara Vannini – who is current a visiting scholar at TASCHA present on her work exploring mobile devices and public access to ICTs.

What: Use of Mobile Devices in Public Access to ICTs: Preliminary results from a study in Latin America

When: Tuesday, Feb 9 at 12pm

Where: The Allen Center, CSE 203

Abstract: Venues for Public Access to ICTs (PAVs) and Mobile Technologies have been extensively studied for their potential to give access to information and enabling underserved communities’ development, especially in the developing world. The field of ICT for Development (ICT4D) looked at them, one after the other, as possible ways to finally bridge the digital divide.

At first, the rapid growth of mobile technologies adoption, especially in developing countries, made researchers question the necessity to still invest in PAVs. With more than 6 billion mobile subscriptions in the world, and more people having access to a mobile than to electricity or clean water in developing countries, mobiles have indeed been reshaping the technological ecosystem of access. Yet, PAVs have not been replaced by mobiles. While we can envision that PAVs are starting to include mobile technologies to provide their services, very few studies have been considered the topic so far. In this presentation, preliminary results from an online survey conducted among Latin American PAVs’ operators will be presented. Results will inform on both the variety of mobile-related services that PAVs are providing in the region, and on operators’ perception of mobile technologies as having a role to support community development and PAVs goals.

Bio: Sara Vannini is a visiting scholar at UW’s Technology and Social Change Group (TASCHA). Sara is also a postdoctoral research fellow with the BeCHANGE group and Executive Director of the NewMinE – New Media in Education Lab at the University of Italian Switzerland (USI), Lugano, Switzerland. Sara’s research is in the field of Information and Communication Technologies for Development, focusing in particular on the issues of Public Access to ICTs and the appropriation and social representation of technologies in underserved areas of developing countries. She holds a Ph.D. in Communication Sciences from USI, and an M.A. in Latin American Literatures from Bologna University, Italy.

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Skyler Speakman: Micro-loan Credit Scoring Based on Mobile Phone Data

January 18th, 2016 by Trevor Perrier

Please join us for the this Change this week as we welcome Dr. Skyler Speakman from IBM Research — Africa.

What: Micro-loan Credit Scoring Based on Mobile Phone Data 

When: Tuesday, Jan 19 at 12pm

Where: The Allen Center, CSE 203

Abstract: Mobile money, or the ability to make send and receive money through feature phones, has swept through Eastern Africa in the past few years.  IBM believes this technology will serve as the building block for more complex, risk-based financial services tailored for the growing lower and middle classes.  This talk will demonstrate how two common themes in data science, boosting and transfer learning, are being used to create credit scores based on mobile phone usage.

Bio: Dr. Skyler Speakman is a research scientist at IBM Research — Africa where he applies multiple flavors of data science to large-scale, real world problems.  Most recently he has been working in the Financial Services space which focuses on using technology and non-traditional data sources to increase the breadth and depth of financial services to millions of Africans.  He completed his doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University and lives in Nairobi, Kenya, with his wife and young son.

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.