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Archive for the ‘poverty’ Category

Fight malaria by contributing your computer while you sleep

Posted by evolvingwheel on February 16, 2008

Remember the SETI@Home project that was launched in 1999? It has been one of those pioneering projects where grid computing was brought to average consumers who would donate their computer hours for complex analysis of radio-signals from the space. The down-loadable software would receive data from the SETI server in the background and do calculations when the machine is idle at night or when you are away from it. Such grid computing way back then opened the doors for a new class of utility that would one day serve for complex stochastic simulations that could take years with limited computing power. A new possibility emerged!

Paying heed to this tremendous potential of volunteered grid computing across populations with desktops/laptos, MalariaControl.net hosted by AFRICA@HOME has launched a similar grid computing effort to model transmission dynamics and health effects on demographics with potential of getting infected by malaria. These simulations are intensive as they demand a huge set of grid points (human populations) with innumerable attributes that control the derivation of disease progression trajectory and other forecasting knowledge. The idea is simple. The Swiss Tropical Institute has developed a model for malaria epidemiology that uses the volunteer computing ability to calculate a credible analysis and a platform for evidence-based-treatment for malaria in Africa. malaria_kid.jpg

Again, the possibility of grid computing with volunteer computer hours is enormous. Further, to sweeten the deal, the architecture to support such efforts is FREE! The Berkeley Open Architecture for Network Computing (BOINC) is a openly available middleware that can be used to launch any such project. Another greatness of the BOINC framework is the support for both Microsoft Windows and Unix/Linux systems. Even though disease epidemiology studies for non-profit endeavors are great objectives for harnessing BOINC-like utility, the for-profit sector can also benefit from such volunteer contributions. Market research based on demographic behaviors and activity patterns across international borders is a demanding aspect of international business today. Stochastic marketing research models can leverage such grid computing efforts to run comprehensive analysis of product usage patterns. Furthermore, the volunteer attribute can be enriched by a monetary payment factor for hours of modeling usage of one’s computer too.

Picture: Courtesy AMREF


Posted in Computation, health, Innovation, Medicine, poverty, social innovation | Leave a Comment »

A tribute to Mr. Hans Rosling – Thanks for enabling the war on poverty better

Posted by evolvingwheel on December 16, 2007

I spent sometime learning what Mr. Hans Rosling is up-to, and that’s too for last 30 years. This incredible human being has collected the numbers of different indexes of poverty, education, income, export, import, healthcare, mortality, and what not. And he has come up with a dynamic representation of a perplexing view of changing time-line of economic/wealth growth of different countries in an application called Trend-alyzer, recently bought by Google. Discover Magazine recently covered him. Find the link [here] with an interview with Rosling. hans_rosling.jpg

Rosling created an animation of all the eco-social data points translating decades of development of individual countries into a time series. But it is more than that. As I watched his video, what struck me is the detail of the message embedded in an evolving path. All the data will now be available for free and social enterprises, nonprofits, entrepreneurs, and other parties can use them to develop economic policies, social instruments, and technological devices to appropriately address different pressing issues across the world. I believe that this will greatly benefit the understanding of the intricacies of an emerging world. In fact, one other aspect of this development is the possibility of crafting efficient flow of capital and resources through FDI (foreign direct investment) or philanthropy.

I visited Rosling’s blog and I would highly recommend you to visit too. A good collection of different discussions, literature, and Rosling’s innovative ideas to address global poverty and healthcare. The first thing that came across my mind is how we could use his data points and develop efficient and innovative ideas to bring sophisticated services and technologies where they are most needed. How could this data help us to device cost effectiveness of any proposed solution in those parts of the world where help is critically needed. Whatever way we proceed, his numbers will give us a live gauge of the pulse of these regions in a more vivid manner. THANK YOU Mr. Rosling.

Posted in drugs, Environment, health, Infrared, Innovation, poverty, Soccer, social innovation | Leave a Comment »

Building technology for the poor

Posted by evolvingwheel on September 13, 2007

Some students, engineers, and professors from MIT have embarked on a path to bring innovative products to the poor of the world – people living on less than $1 a day. Most of the technological innovations of today are catered toward the rich and wealthy, people who can buy cool cell phones, watch large plasma TVs, and can afford to drive the fastest luxurious cars. That is definitely not going to stop. But what is changing is the perspective. Some of the coolest brains in the field of engineering and tech have congregated to collaborate and develop solutions that could serve the needs of women in sub-Saharan Africa and the kids of rural South Asia.

The outcome of this movement – enough electricity from cow manure to power a flash light, a backpack to hold water, and a drip irrigation system that can grow with the increasing income of the farmer. The biggest takeaway from this movement is the conception and realization of an idea that cheap technological breakthroughs can elevate the lives of people in impoverished communities, which in turn will enable them to be more productive and hence uplift their societies and lifestyles. Read the [article here].

However, there will always be a challenge to sustain this realization due to a lack of solid investor return. Will these inventions and cost of their delivery and implementation always depend on charity, endowments, and government sponsorships? How can a private investment and recuperation model be developed? What process can bring a decent amount of capital to the movement and over a relatively modest timeframe provide profit and/or cost savings both to the community and the government. Currently, poverty and the means to eradicate that poverty burden poor governments considerably. If some degree of commercial profitability could be attached to the innovations directed towards the poor people, then it will relax the burden on governments and enable them to focus more on the organized implementation of these technologies.

Posted in Environment, Innovation, investment, poverty | Leave a Comment »