Introduction to ICT4D – Online Guest Lecture at the TU Wien 2021

As a member of the research group INSO at the TU Wien (Vienna University of Technologies) I am once a year invited to give an introduction to ICT4D. The research group for Industrial Software (INSO) deals with the study of development and maintenance of software systems in practice. The presentation will be a part of their Beyond the Desktop lecture.
I will introduce participants to ICT4D, discuss projects & past research and I will give an overview of our activities at ICT4D.at. We are currently looking for students who are interested in participating in our projects or to start writing a thesis in the field of ICT4D.

For the second time due to the Covid-19 outbreak will the lecture be available via an online conference. Everyone is welcome to tune in:

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 17:05 – 19:00 (CET Vienna time zone)
Join via Zoom by clicking here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85874819852

The lecture will be in English language. See you there!

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Introduction to ICT4D – Online Guest Lecture at the TU Wien 2021
was published on 22.03.2021 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under global
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Building a SMS Based and Server-less Volunteer Conversation App for Civil Societies in Uganda

Many civil societies in Uganda have volunteers across the country. The volunteers are integrated into local communities and, among other activities, act as disaster reporters. Disasters include floods, landslides, disease outbreaks, hailstorms, accidents, and others. The current solution for disaster reports includes a web formula and a lot of communication between different levels of management hierarchy.

In many cases, existing web formulas cannot be used by the volunteers directly because of missing access to smartphones and/or the internet. Days can pass until information travels from volunteers to their regional manager and gets passed on to the head-quarter’s management. Even worse, communication is not only slow but information is sometimes lost. Therefore, faster and more direct communication would enable headquarters to act faster and more precisely on disasters.

Approach

My colleague Marlon Alagoda and myself Philipp Moser kicked-off the project in March 2020 together with Paul Spiesberger and Christoph Wimmer from the INSO, TU Vienna who established the connection to one of the local civil societies. This collaboration is a direct result of ICT4D.at’s engagement with the Austrian Red Cross and their engagement within the Skybird Programme. Our goal was to enable our new partner to act faster and more precisely on disasters.

To achieve this, we built an Android app that acts as a chatbot with an SMS interface. Volunteers are able to file disaster reports via SMS and managers can aggregate, filter, and view disaster reports. Furthermore, volunteers do not need an internet connection. Only the smartphone that hosts the app, must be connected to the internet. If a volunteer wants to start a conversation with the Volunteer Conversation App in order to file a report, he or she just sends an SMS to the smartphone. The content of the message could be: “Hi, my name is John and I want to report a flood.” Afterwards follow-up questions are sent to the volunteer until the report is fully collected.

All volunteers have the phone number of the smartphone that hosts the application. They can file a report by sending an SMS to that one phone. The smartphone transfers the input from the SMS to Dialogflow and gets the follow up questions from the same service, which are then sent back to the volunteer. All data is stored locally on the smartphone and can be exported to Google Drive. Everyone who has access to the Google Drive folder can access the data. Branch managers could also have access to the data and use their own tools to process it.  However, “live” alerts can only be seen on the smartphone itself.

Left: Phone of volunteer reporting; Right: the report in the application.

This idea is not new and many other SMS/text based services such as U-Report are already out there. Nevertheless, for us the biggest advantage of our solution is that there are no custom servers required to run our text based chat bot in comparison with other solutions (e.g. U-Report). Our goal is that anyone who wants to run a text based SMS chat bot to collect data from a group of people will just have to download our application to start the service and we are currently working on this vision.

Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions, if you are working in the same direction, see an opportunity for collaboration or/and know similar projects we could team up with. The application is not yet publicly available, but we develop our application as an open source project. We encourage you to check out the code base, file bugs/requests and contribute to the project.

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Building a SMS Based and Server-less Volunteer Conversation App for Civil Societies in Uganda
was published on 11.02.2021 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under east africa, Europe
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RISE, INSO & ICT4D.at – A Strategic Partnership

Over the last years we implemented several projects and initiatives with the Vienna University of Technology and the Research Industry Software Engineering GmbH (RISE). Our biggest and longest collaboration was within the ICT4DMZ project where INSO, the research group for Industrial Software was our scientific partner. I work with RISE as a mobile software developer and am the co-head of BRIC, a research group at INSO where I regularly teach and conduct my research in the context of ICT4D. Other members also have connections to INSO or RISE and back in 2008 two out of three founding members were part of INSO.

Our shared story goes way back to our roots and recently we once more started a new project. This time RISE, as a software company, takes over the part of developing software within this collaboration. We as ICT4D.at do develop and maintain small open source software projects, but we do not have the resources to implement large scale software project. Most of our members contribute to our cause in their spare time and everyone who already developed software knows that it takes serious efforts to go live and have happy users. Furthermore, ICT4D.at also does not want to professionally develop software. We see our engagement within the ICT4D movement, we have insights, we connect, we plan & support others, we teach & reflect on the wise use of technologies for the most marginalized. We do not develop software, we develop the ideas behind the technology in respect of its context and foremost implications.

In the last couple of months we as RISE, INSO and ICT4D.at decided to take the next step and formalize our partnership. We signed a strategic partnership where RISE & INSO will support our engagement. We continue with having INSO as our designated scientific partner and RISE as our preferred software development associate. Our triangle of research, software development and ICT4D simply got stronger while we still maintain our freedom and openness to collaborate with others. We deeply thank RISE & INSO and are grateful for their support. These are exciting times for us, we are growing, expanding and new opportunities are ahead! Reach out to us if you would like to know more or are interested in joining ICT4D.at.

Logos of RISE, INSO and ICT4D.at

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RISE, INSO & ICT4D.at – A Strategic Partnership
was published on 24.10.2020 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under global
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ICT4D Online Guest Lecture at the TU Wien

As a member of the research group INSO at the TU Wien (Vienna University of Technologies) I am once a year invited to give an introduction to ICT4D. The research group for Industrial Software (INSO) deals with the study of development and maintenance of software systems in practice. The presentation will be a part of their Beyond the Desktop lecture.
I will give an introduction to ICT4D, discuss projects & past research with the students and I will give them an overview of our activities & projects at ICT4D.at. We are currently looking for students who are interested in participating in our projects or to start writing a thesis in the field of ICT4D.

For the first time due to the Covid-19 outbreak will the lecture be available via an online stream. Everyone is welcome to tune in:

Thursday, 23th April 2020, 17:00 – 19:00 (Vienna time zone)
Join via Zoom by clicking here: https://zoom.us/j/541201875

The lecture will be in English language.

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ICT4D Online Guest Lecture at the TU Wien
was published on 21.04.2020 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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ICT4D Guest Lecture at TU Wien

I am a member of the research group INSO at the TU Wien (Vienna University of Technologies). The research group for Industrial Software (INSO) deals with the study of development and maintenance of software systems in practice. I got invited as a guest lecturer next week as part of their Beyond the Desktop lecture. I will give an introduction to ICT4D, discuss projects and past research with the students and I will give them an overview of our activities and projects at ICT4D.at. We are currently looking for students who are interested in participating in our projects or start writing a thesis in the field of ICT4D at the TU Wien. Everyone is welcome to pass by and join in:

Thursday, 13th June 2019, 16:00 – 18:00 at GM 4 Knoller Hörsaal (1060 Wien, Getreidemarkt 9, Hoftrakt, Stiege IV, 2. Obergeschoß).

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ICT4D Guest Lecture at TU Wien
was published on 07.06.2019 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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ICT4D Introduction Lecture at TU Vienna

I was invited by the Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation from the Vienna University of Technology to give a guest lecture regarding ICT4D. I will give a short overview, talk about the history and where the ICT4D community is currently heading. There will be a focus on practical projects from our past, since they lecture titles Projects in Development Aid.

Aim of course

Goal of the lecture is showing the participants the challenges of development aid projects. The participants will see that skills like social competence and flexibility are essential for success.

Subject of course

The focus of the course is the development aid program Appear (Austrian Partnership Program in Higher Education and Research for Development). After a general introduction, five speakers will present their respective projects. An essential aspect of the lectures are, in addition to the problem definition and the (technical) solution, the challenges of working in developing countries, dealing with inadequacies of the infrastructure, political developments, social challenges, economic conditions, etc.

You can find more detailed information here.

Pass by if you find the time, anyone is welcome:
Fri, 16.11.2018, 17:00 – 18:45
Address: Gußhausstraße 27-29, 1040 Vienna,
Neues EI, Stiege I, 3. Stock

 

ICT4D Lecture at TU Vienna





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ICT4D Introduction Lecture at TU Vienna
was published on 11.11.2018 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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ICT4D Lecture at Vienna University of Technology

I got invited to give a talk about ICT4D in a lecture called Beyond the Desktop due to my affiliation to the Vienna University of Technology. The lecture covers a broad spectrum of technology applications and aims at design thinking. It targets Master students who combine in their studies software engineering, user interface design and user experience design. The goal of the lecture is to also look beyond the usual software applications and illustrate other exiting fields such as wearable technologies, ambiguous computing and also this semester for the first time ICT4D. Beyond the Desktop aims at:

  • Employing and acquiring skills in user interfaces beyond the traditional Desktop.
  • Getting to know various technologies to solve problems in this field.
  • To be able to understand and apply principles in design and evaluation according to HCI fundamentals for future mobile applications.
  • Prototyping new kinds of actions between humans and computers

In my guest lecture I will give a broad overview of what ICT4D is and where it originates. I will illustrate some ICT4D projects in the field and also focus on past failed projects to show the misperception of ICT4D. Followed then by a presentation of our ICT4DMZ project and my experience form India, since both projects were implemented in cooperation with INSO and DECO, the hosting research groups.

If you are interested in a dialogue about ICT4D, then feel free to join me:

Venue
GM4 Knoller
Hoftrakt, Stiege IV, 2. Obergeschoß
Getreidemarkt 9, 1060 Wien
Directions in German

Time: 14.06.2018, 16:00 – 17:30

Language: English

See you there!

Lecture at TU Vienna





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ICT4D Lecture at Vienna University of Technology
was published on 07.06.2018 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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Guest Lecture 07.06.2017 – International Development Cooperation at TU Wien

We got invited by Jakob Lederer from the Institute for Water Quality, Resource and Waste Management to present our work and projects at the Vienna University of Technology due to our engagement in Mozambique and our connection to INSO, the Research Group for Industrial Software. We will deliver a guest lecture as part of the Course Transfer of Environmental Technologies to Developing Countries. In the past we worked in cooperation with the UEM and INSO within our ICT4DMZ project and we will share our experience. We will try to give a short glimpse of the topic ICT4D in general, will then talk about our ICT4DMZ project – what happened and what are our future plans and then further talk about our Team Nimble. Paul will represent our association and INSO, since he is involved in both organisations, so don’t miss it:

International Development Cooperation at TU Wien
Wednesday 07.06.2017, 15:30-17:00 at TU Wien
(Seminarraum 384, Gußhausstraße 27-29, Stiege I, 4. Stock)





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Guest Lecture 07.06.2017 – International Development Cooperation at TU Wien
was published on 05.06.2017 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under Europe
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An emotional rollercoaster – Team Nimble at Helpathon TU Vienna

The Helpathon is a Hackathon where participants focus on developing IT-solutions for people in need. This kind of event gained a new level of importance since more and more refugees from Africa and the Middle East are seeking shelter in european countries. It took place at TU Vienna throughout the weekend on November 14th and 15th.

Our freshly re-elected chairman Paul (member of the INSO and one of the organisers of the Helpathon) invited us (Chloé Zimmermann, Florian Sturm and me) to team up and try our best. Which was not easy for anyone in the beginning – just a few hours ago Paris was hit by terrorist attacks and the news spread like a shockwave. It was difficult to focus under these circumstances. But we tried hard and figured out a nice concept after talking to Ulrike Karpfen and Elisabeth Palugyay from the Viennese Red Cross and Jochen Petri from Train Of Hope. Because two thirds of us weren’t able to write code for an IT-programm we decided to take the exact opposite direction.

The idea: Provide a flexible information system for buildings and rooms that is easy to understand for both refugees and helpers.

The key: Well designed Pictograms which can be sprayed or sticked easily onto walls and also be rearranged quickly. Furthermore the pictograms can be downloaded from a website. New pictograms can be uploaded and users can recommend well designed pictograms. All pictograms should also have a positive “attitude”, which means there should not be any signs that show prohibitions. In our opinion it is better to show people in need what they can do instead of what they must not do. It may be a way to contribute to the well-being of refugees and prevent frustration.

Our credo: Doing it as low-tech as possible to make it useable for every organisation.

When an architect, an IT-developer and a graphic designer combine their skills there might be some chaos first but in the end something beautiful can happen. As the deadline approached on Sunday we felt the pressure growing but we didn’t give up. We finished in time and presented our idea to a jury next to 5 other teams. After a thrilling hour of waiting the result finally relieved us: 2nd place and 1000€ for the realisation of the project. A wonderful ending of this rollercoaster ride called Helpathon.

We are looking forward to the next steps of this exciting project! Stay tuned!





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An emotional rollercoaster – Team Nimble at Helpathon TU Vienna
was published on 21.11.2015 by Georg Steinfelder. It files under eastern and central europe, global
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