Computing for Development (C4D)

image of chess playing robot

We are a group of faculty, students, and staff at the University of Washington who are exploring the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in improving the lives of underserved populations in low-income regions. CSE is also a part of Change, a cross-campus group working on technology for development.

Research in information and communication technologies for development (ICTD) is a relatively new and important area in computing research. When deploying systems in highly resource-constrained environment (unsophisticated users, lack of reliable power, expensive or non-existent data connectivity, etc.) they must be designed to be much more robust than when designing for the developed world. This leads to a fuller exploration of the design space not only in terms of the physical design but also the system architecture and its robustness to a variety of possible failures. Often designs developed for these contexts find application in the developed as well – whether it be under-served communities or contexts that require more robust systems.

Our work is based on partnerships with organizations that work on the ground to provide sustainable services to real people in a wide range of application domains including public health, environmental monitoring, human rights monitoring, and nature mapping. All our work products are in the public domain and we work hard to create communities around our open source software artifacts. Thus, our focus is on making our partner organizations more effective and efficient at what they do and ensure that our work finds a future sustained by a larger community of developers.

Our partners include PATH (Progam for Appropriate Technology in Healthcare), the Jane Goodall Institute, AMPATH (Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare), UW Department of Global Health (and its NGO-arm ITECH), VillageReach, among others. Our work is currently supported by Google Research, the National Science Foundation under the Smart Health and Wellbeing cross-cutting program, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID's Higher-Education Solutions Network, and the Jerre D. Noe Endowed Professorship.