Designing Technology for the Other 5 Billion

Presented by

Monday, Nov 14
4:15 pm - 5:30 pm

Cofrin Auditorium (ATLS 100), Roser ATLAS Building

Event Details


With the advent of $50 smartphones, we can finally design software applications to fight poverty, disease and illiteracy for the 5 billion living in the developing world.

In this talk, Umar Saif shares a series of highly successful systems designed for the 120 million citizens in the province of Punjab in Pakistan. These systems have been used for targeting 13 million dengue containment activities, monitoring 53,000 schools in Punjab, tracking 3,700 vaccinators and collecting feedback from 11 million citizens. Each case highlights a unique set of challenges and opportunities for designing systems for the developing world.

Saif concludes by explaining the challenge of measuring socio-economic impact of projects in the developing world, presenting a new smartphone-based platform aimed at democratizing data collection, surveys and randomized controlled trials at a large scale.

About the Speaker

dr-umar-saif-founder-chairman-pitbUmar Saif works as the chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB), heading all public-sector IT projects in Punjab. He is also founding vice chancellor of ITU-P, a newly-setup research university in Lahore.

After receiving his Ph.D. in 2001 from the University of Cambridge, Saif worked at MIT for several years before returning to Pakistan. In 2011, he was included in MIT Technology Review’s 35 Innovators Under 35 list, and in 2010, the World Economic Forum named him a Young Global Leader. He has received a Google Faculty Research Award, MIT Technovator Award, IEEE Percom Mark Weiser Award, IDG Technology Pioneer Award and ACM CHI Best Paper Award. In 2014, Saif was awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz, one of the Pakistan’s highest civil awards, and he is currently on the Muslim 500 list of the world’s most influential Muslims.

Saif is often credited as one of the main forces behind the revitalized IT ecosystem in Pakistan. He founded Plan9, Pakistan’s largest startup incubator. With over 118 startups under their belt, Plan9’s vision “is to instill the culture of tech entrepreneurship and achieve sustainable growth for early stage, product-based ideas by providing domain-specific mentorship and investment opportunities to create commercially viable technology startups from Pakistan.”

About the ATLAS ICTD Program
This talk is sponsored by the ATLAS Information and Communication Technology for Development program, a professional master’s degree where students invent, design and create technologies to address human need in the U.S. and around the globe. >more