World-wide our lives are becoming more and more data intensive. We all produce and consume a lot of data in various forms but don’t have an equal access to enabling technologies. Disparities can for instance be observed in access to networking technologies, data/computer literacy and societal status. It is however hard to derive any general rules that  would solve everyone’s problem related to data sharing. Things are better considered on a case by case basis, preferably using the “living lab” approach to let problem owners and problem solvers co-develop solutions rather than having one party imposing his view on the other. In the following, we describe some of the use-cases this group is currently working on.


Pharmacy shelf

Pharmacy shelf in the Peruvian Amazon

Pharmacy outposts in the Peruvian Amazon are critical to the population they serve. Among other things, these posts need to share data about the stock they have, the prescriptions given to patients and the spread of diseases they observe. Point-to-point Intranets encompassing areas as wide as 100 km of radius are enablers for high-speed video and audio links health posts for remote consultation, training, and others. Internet is not always available, thus the Intranet can not access central servers which could have been used as central data collection and dissemination point. A decentralized, energy efficient, approach to data storage and sharing would allow to deploy small clusters in each centre. This approach would also give a natural priority to locally stored data, thereby tackling in priority local needs.

For more information about this use-case please get in touch with Martin Murillo.

Market prices

A market in Mali (credit Kasper Souren)

Having the right information about prices for goods, and access to potential buyers, is important to an efficient food-chain from producers to consumers. The later being able to get what they are looking for and the former for generating a revenue out of their work. Data about prices and availability for goods is relevant here. It is important for it to be shared among the different actors especially considering that small subsistence farmers account for more than 90% of Africa’s agricultural production and are usually at the very bottom of the pyramid. But for our case study in Mali, only 1.8% of the population has Internet access, only 10% has access to the electricity network, and only 26.2% is literate. This makes it challenging to deploy a global market information system citizens could get access to. The solutions we have been working on involve voice-based interfaces, local information points and the blending of ICT-based and community radio-based approaches to information dissemination.

For more information about this use-case please get in touch with Victor de Boer.


XOs in Papua New Guinea (credit OLPC)

One Laptop Per Child is a foundation that set himself on a mission to empower deprived school pupils through better education. This encompasses the open learning platform focused on constructivism “Sugar” and a laptop optimized for its typical usage conditions, the “XO“. With this tools, the young learners are able to develop computer skills but also new soft skills such as collective problem solving. Collaboration and self-study is an important part of the philosophy behind the learning platform, users are able to share the content of their work and take a critical look on what they achieved via a portfolio automatically curated by their device. We look at enhancing this data sharing to make it possible to share more data in a semantically rich way. Part of the challenges include the fact that the laptops are mostly used off-line and can not be expected to gain access to massive data hosting solutions. Privacy is also at stake here as the data is directly related to the child using the laptop and may be sensitive.

For more information about this use-case please get in touch with Christophe Guéret.

and more…

Besides the use-cases mentioned above, some of us are also working on issues related to natural hazard prevention (flood monitoring) and emergency response. Both cases demand flexible infrastructures that are low-cost and robust and can be deployed quickly in situations where the infrastructure (electricity, Internet, …) is non-accessible.


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