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Tapan Parikh - Designing Appropriate Computing Technologies for the Rural Developing World

Tapan Parikh - Designing Appropriate Computing Technologies for the Rural Developing World

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Published by UW Change
Globalization has seen an increase in disparity between developed and undeveloped regions. Disproportionate access to information technology is a symptom and a factor contributing to this disparity. In particular, people living in the rural developing world have many information needs that could, but are not, being met by IT.

Technology for this context must be low-cost, accessible and appropriate given the local infrastructure, including conditions of intermittent power and connectivity. In this talk, I describe my experiences developing CAM - a toolkit for mobile phone data collection in the rural developing world. Designing technologies for an unfamiliar context requires understanding the needs and capabilities of potential users. Drawing from the results of an extended participatory design study conducted with microfinance group members in rural India (many of whom are semi-literate or illiterate), I outline a set of user interface design guidelines for accessibility to such users. The results of this study are used to motivate the design of the CAM toolkit, which includes support for paper-based interaction; multimedia input and output; and disconnected operation. I provide evidence of CAM's usability, breadth, and real-world applicability. Regarding real-world applicability, a CAM application for microfinance data collection is now being used by 17 users to serve over 10000 group members in two states of India. Regarding breadth, I list some important rural data collection applications - including for retail supply chain tracking, agricultural monitoring and health care - that we have implemented, or can be implemented, using the CAM toolkit. I conclude by discussing possible topics for future work and my long-term research vision.


Tapan S. Parikh is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. He received a M.S. degree in Computer Science from UW, and a Sc.B. degree in Molecular Modeling from Brown University. Tapan's research interests include human-computer interaction (HCI), systems engineering and information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D).
Globalization has seen an increase in disparity between developed and undeveloped regions. Disproportionate access to information technology is a symptom and a factor contributing to this disparity. In particular, people living in the rural developing world have many information needs that could, but are not, being met by IT.

Technology for this context must be low-cost, accessible and appropriate given the local infrastructure, including conditions of intermittent power and connectivity. In this talk, I describe my experiences developing CAM - a toolkit for mobile phone data collection in the rural developing world. Designing technologies for an unfamiliar context requires understanding the needs and capabilities of potential users. Drawing from the results of an extended participatory design study conducted with microfinance group members in rural India (many of whom are semi-literate or illiterate), I outline a set of user interface design guidelines for accessibility to such users. The results of this study are used to motivate the design of the CAM toolkit, which includes support for paper-based interaction; multimedia input and output; and disconnected operation. I provide evidence of CAM's usability, breadth, and real-world applicability. Regarding real-world applicability, a CAM application for microfinance data collection is now being used by 17 users to serve over 10000 group members in two states of India. Regarding breadth, I list some important rural data collection applications - including for retail supply chain tracking, agricultural monitoring and health care - that we have implemented, or can be implemented, using the CAM toolkit. I conclude by discussing possible topics for future work and my long-term research vision.


Tapan S. Parikh is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. He received a M.S. degree in Computer Science from UW, and a Sc.B. degree in Molecular Modeling from Brown University. Tapan's research interests include human-computer interaction (HCI), systems engineering and information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D).

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Published by: UW Change on Mar 25, 2009
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10/13/2012

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Designing Appropriate Computing Technologies for Rural Development
 Tapan S. ParikhSchool of Information | UC Berkeleyhttp://ischool.berkeley.edu/~parikh |parikh@berkeley.edu
 
Financial Services for the Poor
Microfinance: Global MovementMicrofinance: Global Movement
 –
Grameen Bank & Muhammad Yunus – 2006 Nobel PrizeGrameen Bank & Muhammad Yunus – 2006 Nobel Prize
Self-Help Groups (SHGs)Self-Help Groups (SHGs)
--
ROSCAs, ASCAs, Village Bank, etc.ROSCAs, ASCAs, Village Bank, etc.
 –
 
Collect savings during meetingsCollect savings during meetings
 –
Use capital for small loansUse capital for small loans
 –
Business, livestock, education, health care, etc.Business, livestock, education, health care, etc.
 –
Repayment based on peer pressureRepayment based on peer pressure
DecentralizeDecentralizefinancial service provisionfinancial service provision
2
 
SHGs are being linked to banksSHGs are being linked to banks
Access more credit at better ratesAccess more credit at better rates
Other services (insurance, investment, savings, etc.)Other services (insurance, investment, savings, etc.)
Local intermediation can reduce cost of serviceLocal intermediation can reduce cost of service
Excellent repayment performance (90-98%)Excellent repayment performance (90-98%)
However, manyHowever, manyobstaclesobstacles
ParikhParikh
--
ICTDICTD
 
20062006
 ✗
Spread across remote rural areasSpread across remote rural areas
 ✗
Limited education, infrastructure, financial capacityLimited education, infrastructure, financial capacity
 ✗
Documentation practices are inconsistentDocumentation practices are inconsistent
 ✗
Difficult to assess credit risk and make decisionsDifficult to assess credit risk and make decisions
Linking Formal and Informal
3
SHGsBanks
v    
$$
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