Open Sessions

Friday, January 4, 1000-1300

Narratives in ICTD Research: A Workshop on Theory and Praxis of the Most Significant Change Technique
(Room: CR2)

Impact evaluation forms one of the perennial and core areas of research within the ICTD community which entails the use of a diverse range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies—separately or as mixed methods. In this open session, we propose to stress on the importance of narratives within the ICTD research and in so doing, familiarize the session participants with the theory and praxis of the Most Significant Change Technique.

Aparna Moitra (University of Delhi)
Pooja Ichplani (Johns Hopkins University)
Archna Kumar (University of Delhi)

Beyond IVR: Voice-User Interfaces for Emerging Smartphone Users (Room: SR2)

With the steady growth of smartphone users and increasing number of mobile Internet users, new types of voice user interfaces—such as voice-based search and voice assistants—are becoming an integral part for smartphone users’ everyday lives. Following the long-term interest of the ICTD community in user interfaces for users in developing contexts, we aim to host an unconference to bring together like-minded individuals to develop a research agenda for these interfaces among underserved communities.

Apoorva Bhalla (IIIT Bangalore)
Bidisha Chaudhuri (IIIT Bangalore)
Linus Kendall (Sheffield Hallam University and IIIT Bangalore)

Design Workshop: Google’s Next Billion Product Design Framework (Room: SR1)

Hundreds of millions of people are coming online in countries like India, Brazil, and Indonesia. The technical contexts, social settings, and cultural nuances of the countries are critical to consider in the act of designing new technologies. At Google, we’ve taken the insights from our field research and developed a framework for designing and building technology aimed at emerging markets. The framework offers three main pillars of experience: Usable, Useful and Engaging, each with three essential sub-themes. We find these nine essential points are crucial when creating apps, services, and devices tailored to the lives and local infrastructure of the next billion users. In this workshop, we aim to share this framework, methodology of implementation, and facilitate discussion between attendees about how the framework applies to technology in their own work and lives. This workshop is aimed at researchers, designers, product thinkers who are thinking deeply about building new products for the next billion users, and/or intend to extend their product offering to these users.

Muzayun Mukhtar (Google)
Garen Checkley (Google)
Prachi Nagpal (Google)
Aysha Siddique (Google)
Divy Thakkar (Google)
Mrinal Sharma (Google)

The Fairwork Foundation: Strategies for Fairer Platform Work (Room: SR9)

This open session will address the rise of platform work. It will introduce the Fairwork Foundation—a project designed to use academic research to find ways to support platforms workers and improve conditions. The aim of the session is to explore and understand what “fair work”—mediated on online platforms—means in an Indian context. Participants will discuss the challenges and opportunities, reflecting on how these can be met in practice.

Mark Graham (University of Oxford)
Jamie Woodcock (University of Oxford)
Richard Heeks (University of Manchester)
Jean-Paul VanBelle (University of Cape Town)

Re-Imagining Primary Healthcare in the Age of AI (Room: CR12)

The Government of India envisions upgrading existing primary healthcare facilities to Health & Wellness Centres that will double the scope of services and care areas without the presence of any medical doctors. In this scenario, how can AI and related technologies empower mid-level health workers to deliver high-quality primary healthcare services to rural, last-mile populations in India? In this interactive workshop, attendees will work with public health experts, decision makers, and AI researchers to brainstorm and design an AI-enabled Health & Wellness Centre, and hence, the primary healthcare model of the future.

Amrita Mahale (Wadhwani AI)
Nikhil Jagtiani (Wadhwani AI)
Rahul Panicker (Wadhwani AI)
Raghu Dharmaraju (Wadhwani AI)
Decision-makers and practitioners from the WISH Foundation

Friday, January 4, 1500-1630

Designing Culturally Aware and Resource Appropriate Digital Mental Health Interventions (Room: SR1)

In the Global South, the burden of mental health disorders is unique, with increased stigma, fewer resources, and 80 percent of those with a mental health disorder living in the Global South. Considering the impact of identity-based attributes on mental illness and technology usage, we convene a diverse group of mental health professionals, ICTD researchers, and HCI researchers to discuss best practices and research priorities when doing digital mental health research in the Global South.

Sachin Pendse (MSR India)
Mamta Sood (AIIMS Delhi)
Seema Mehrotra (NIMHANS Bengaluru)
Amit Sharma (MSR India)

Sustainable Business Models for Last-Mile Connectivity (Room: SR2)

The open session on Sustainable Business Models for Last Mile Connectivity will look into innovative business models that enable both connectivity as well as sustains the connectivity after it has been enabled to the unconnected. Grassroots Internet access initiatives are exploring ways of driving down the costs of deploying and operating network infrastructure through the use of innovative technologies and business models. These deployments have adopted different ways of financing and raising revenue - some of these initiatives provide Internet access at community anchor institutions, and offer a range of complementary products in addition to Internet connectivity. Are these initiatives sustainable financially and otherwise? What are their drivers of sustainability? How do community-centered principles of governance interact with business principles of profitability?

Sarbani Banerjee Belur (Gram Marg, IIT Bombay)
Sharada Srinivasan (University of Pennsylvania)
Ritu Srivastava (Digital Empowerment Foundation)

Listening from the Archives (Room: SR9)

This session explores the use of historical and participatory art methods in ICTD research. Seasoned practitioners, please join us to share your experiences and primary documents. We also welcome researchers new to these methods who hope to learn from the experiences and archival selections of other researchers. As a starting point, we will listen to archival selections from the National Radio Cambodia, including music from 1960s and a lakon ajai (spoken comedy, with translation) from 1984. Before and after the listening portions, we will explore through discussion the ways that contemporary ICT use builds off of older forms of culturally-specific media practices, particularly in postcolonial and post-conflict settings. We hope that the listening portion (which includes rare Khmer traditional music samples) will be an enjoyable and relaxing way to spend conference time. This program was originally developed in collaboration with Lyno Vuth and the Sa Sa Art Project team in Phnom Penh.

Margaret Jack (Cornell University)

Saturday, January 5, 1200-1330

ICTD and Personal Informatics (Room: SR1)

The Personal Informatics (PI) community has explored using smartphones and wearables to better understand various facets of an individual, such as their health and well-being. ICTD has conducted PI-type research (e.g., maternal health tracking), but it has a different philosophical approach towards it. Even though smartphone adoption is increasing in the developing regions, not much work has examined the adoption of such platforms or their requirements. In this panel, we seek to explore how why this is the case, and potential opportunities and challenges in bringing the two communities together towards a shared goal.

Ravi Karkar (University of Washington)
Neha Kumar (Georgia Tech)
Pushpendra Singh (IIIT Delhi)
Shreya Bhatt (Medic Mobile)

Machine Learning for India-Specific Problems (Room: SR2)

Machine Learning (ML) is a branch of AI that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed. In recent years, there has been a widespread interest in ML. ML has been applied across diverse domains like agriculture, automotive, customer service, travel, healthcare, banking and financial services, education etc. This session will focus on India-specific problems that can be addressed by ML. It will be conducted in a workshop style and will have talks and a panel discussion.

Ashish Tendulkar (Google Inc.)
Divy Thakkar (Google Inc.)
Pankaj Gupta (Google Inc.)
Varun Gulshan (Google Inc.)

Social Media, Politics, and the Process of Engagement in the Indian Context (Room: SR7)

Increasingly, political movements in the Global South have been taking place online, and fundamentally understanding this process is essential to the study of democracy. In this session, we will map the intersection of political and social engagement with technology in the Indian context, focusing on the influence of social media. We will be approaching this space from different angles, including qualitative research with campaign organizers, as well as quantitative analysis of political social media.

Divya Siddarth (MSR India)
Anmol Panda (MSR)
Ram Chandrasekharan (MSR)
Drupa Charles (MSR)
Shubi Agarwal (MSR)
Azhagu Meena (Tata Trusts)
Srujana Kamath (MSR)

Do Digital Identity Systems Have a Theory of Inclusion? (Room: SR9)

Designing a national scale unitary digital ID system in democratic regimes can be better understood as a wicked problem which are well served by adopting systems-thinking approaches that explicitly engage with the inherent complexity rather than rationalizing them away. In this session, we engage with diverse perspectives on complexity drawn from the disciplines of computer science, law, and public policy to engage with questions concerning inclusion in digital ID designs and infrastructure.

Bidisha Chaudhuri (IIIT Bangalore)

Is This Time Different? The Novelty of ICT in ICTD (Room: CR12)

The past few decades have born unprecedented technological progress, ushering in an age where new technologies emerge and are adopted at a dizzying pace. In the midst of this, ICTD hopes to understand or capture the potential of these technologies for social, political, and economic change. At times it feels as though we have witnessed a complete transformation into a future that would have been hardly recognizable 5 or 10 years prior. But sometimes it seems that the world stubbornly refuses to change, despite our best efforts. We end up relearning old lessons and repeating the same mistakes. While we have new tools at our disposal, many of the problems we want to tackle remain the same. So which is it? Is this truly a revolutionary period, or is it just hyped up window dressing? And in particular, within our ICTD community, do we find ourselves to be too techno-optimist, or too techno-skeptic? The answer lies between the two extremes, but how do we find the right path ahead, to harness effectively the potential that does exist?

Brandon Liu (Everwell Health Solutions)
Kentaro Toyama (University of Michigan)
Balaji Parthasarathy (IIIT Bangalore)
Shiju Varughese (Central University of Gujarat)
Ellen Zegura (Georgia Tech)

Saturday, January 5, 1630-1800

Creating Your Own Path in ICTD (Room: SR1)

As a young researcher, finding productive, reliable mentorship and role models in both personal and professional contexts can be influential, yet challenging. This session offers opportunities for younger researchers to get career guidance and mentorship from a diverse set of experienced members of the ICTD community. The focus of the session will be to expose young researchers to potential career paths and ways of exhibiting leadership in their local community, as well as to support students in making decisions about their futures.

Aaditeshwar Seth (IIT Delhi)
Amy Chen (Everwell Health Solutions, Microsoft Research)
Isabelle Vonèche Cardia (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne)
Kuang Chen (Captricity)
Kurtis Heimerl (University of Washington)
Michaelanne Dye (Georgia Tech)
Neha Kumar (Georgia Tech)
Rahul Panicker (Wadhwani AI)
Sharada Srinivasan (University of Pennsylvania)
Naveena Karusala (University of Washington)
Esther Jang (University of Washington)

Child Trafficking in India: How can Technology Help? (Room: SR2)

The session will present an overview of child trafficking in India through an organisation that is actively working in this domain. After peeking into the ground scenario, the participants will engage in a hands-on activity to identify new avenues for technological interventions. Following this activity, we will present an existing AI-based technology that is being used to provide better support to children rescued from trafficking and the scope of expanding this technology for evaluating mental health. The session will conclude with an open discussion that will foster partnership between industry and other organisations by discussing how existing technologies in this domain can be utilized for different use cases.

Shubham Atreja (IBM Research India)
Anupama Ray (IBM Research India)
Prerna Agarwal (IBM Research India)
Darcy Pierce (EmancipAction)
Priyanka Halli (EmancipAction)

Open Government Data and Accountability: Hype, Reality or a Possibility? (Room: SR7)

Open Government Data (OGD) refers to making government data publicly available through online portals to enhance transparency of the State towards citizens. Many national and regional governments are adopting OGD world over. Yet, we don’t fully understand how the availability of such datasets influences the existing mechanisms of citizen-State engagement. Does it make the citizens negotiate more effectively with the State? Does it make the State more accountable to citizens? Or does it only “empower the empowered” while leaving out the more disempowered? In this session, we seek to understand the practitioners’ perspective on the impact of OGD.

Rajesh Hanbal (IIIT Bangalore)
Sham Kashyap (Azim Premji University)

ICTD Ethics Clinic (Room: SR9)

The aim of the session is to create a supportive peer-to-peer learning environment where researchers can get guidance on how to translate the newly announced minimum ethical standards for ICTD/ICT4D research into their professional practice. These standards were developed in a participatory, interdisciplinary, multi-year process with members of the ICTD conference community and others (see Peer mentors will be offering short confidential conversations to discuss particular ethical challenges. The session will allow the standards to embed as a continuous, participatory learning process.

Dorothea Kleine (University of Sheffield)
Andy Dearden (Sheffield Hallam University)

Leveraging Data to Enhance Social Good (Room: CR12)

As data becomes such an important part of our daily lives, our economy, our health sector and how we learn; we are curious to explore the role data plays for social good. We ask: Who will do this? Why is it important? How do we prioritize problems and reach more communities? To potentially answer a few of these questions,  we will bring together technology experts, academic institutions and non-profits to discuss data for social good and examples and lessons learned of how they have been driving it. As an outcome of the session, we hope to share a better understanding of the problems and areas we need to focus on.

Rohit Singh (Facebook)

Sunday, January 6, 1200-1330

Gary Marsden Memorial Session: Whither ICTD (Room: SR1)

Is it time for ICTD 3.0? What is working, and what needs change in our disciplines, conferences, and departments? In other words: Whither ICTD? This open session will dive into some of the major points of change and challenge within ICTD, will weigh alternatives, and will try to chart some directions forward. It will be organized as a highly interactive panel dealing with three primary areas of change and opportunity: geography, disciplines, and themes.

François Bar (University of Southern California)
Michael Best (Georgia Tech)
Chris Coward (University of Washington)
Nicki Dell (Cornell Tech)
Richard Heeks (University of Manchester)
Dorothea Kleine (University of Sheffield)
Kentaro Toyama (University of Michigan)

Gender Equality in the Indian IT Workplace (Room: SR2)

We want this panel discussion to start a dialogue amongst practitioners and policy makers about the experiences of being a woman in the Indian IT workplace. We are hoping this will bring out the hidden nuances of these experiences and give these women a suitable platform to share and even discuss them.

Oindrila Matilal (IIIT Bangalore)
Mounika Neerukonda (IIIT Bangalore)

Intersectional Computing for Technology and Development (Room: SR7)

In this open session, we'll split our agenda in two, with the first half entailing a storytelling open mic format, asking people to share their encounters with intersectionality in their ICTD practice (or life, really). The second half will focus on collectively putting together a list of resources that offer diverse takes on intersectionality, as they are relevant for ICTD theory and praxis, discussing challenges and opportunities for extending this scholarship within ICTD. Throughout, we'll consider the role that theory plays, and might play, in ICTD.

Neha Kumar (Georgia Tech)
Naveena Karusala (University of Washington)
Marisol Wong-Villacres (Georgia Tech)
Michaelanne Dye (Georgia Tech)
Josiah Mangiameli (Georgia Tech)
Karthik Bhat (Georgia Tech)
Anupriya Tuli (IIIT Delhi)