ACM DEV-4 annual conference provides the opportunity for participants to present their work on applications and technologies for computing in developing regions and took place in the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Although, ACM DEV is a relatively new conference, it was a pleasant surprise to realise that there was a quite diverse crowd – researchers, practitioners, NGO’s and policy makers – due to the wide range of topics covered by the talks.
The prevailing theme this year was networking, with the first day dedicated to mobile and computer networks, benchmarking and optimization. Specifically, there were sessions about measuring broadband and cellular connectivity performance in South Africa, Zambia and India and about creating local community networks or optimizing current infrastructures by applying new caching techniques.
One of the most interesting presentations of the first day, was titled “An Experiment in Reducing Cellular Base Station Power Draw with Virtual Coverage”, where the authors presented a solution to prevent power consumption on bottom-up and small-scale cellular networks. The approach is called virtual coverage and allows the cellular equipment to fall in sleep mode to preserve energy.
The second day opened with a session about applications and experiences from various projects, with the most noteworthy being the MapIT. In which, the authors have developed a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Map mobile application for users to map field boundaries by just taking a photo of the area and then drawing the boundaries on the screen of their smartphone. According to the authors, their quality results match or even outdo the outputs from satellite images and GIS software. Therefore, it may be an interesting solution that we should think in the future for incorporating in our data collection platform.
Apart from following the interesting presentations, I also had the opportunity to present our ExCiteS poster with title “Introducing Sapelli: A mobile data collection platform for non-literate users”. Sapelli is a new mobile data collection and sharing platform designed with a particular focus on non-literate and illiterate users with little or no prior ICT experience. Developed by us here at ExCite, Sapelli aims to provide indigenous people with tools that empower them to take action to protect their local environment and way of life. For more information you can find our abstract here or have a look at our poster below.