Designing Appropriate Information and Communication Technologies for the Base of the Pyramid

Pailla, Siddhartha, Systems Engineering - School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Louis, Garrick, En-Sys/Info Engr Dept, University of Virginia

Information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) continues to enable provision of essential human services through digitization of human interactions and service delivery. Domain-specific design methodologies such as Rapid Application Development (Software Development) or Service Learning (Education) as well as conventional systems and economic frameworks have informed the design and creation of ICT4D systems. However, these frameworks do not adequately capture the perspectives of and barriers faced by individual beneficiaries, and soften the multi-faceted nature of economic and technological constraints. Thus, the modern challenge lies with creating collaborative, sustainable, and evolving changes that are not just designed for the beneficiaries, but by them as well. The author proposes Inclusivity Systems Framework for Communication Systems to describe the multi-dimensional, multi-stakeholder nature of systems at the base of the pyramid. The framework is built on the theory that trust drives success in community-based groups, and inclusive communication in turn drives trust. The framework includes economic inclusivity, technological inclusivity, and participatory inclusivity, all of which in turn have underlying factors and attributes. The author submits that the resulting framework can be used to capture the current capability maturity of ICT4D in a certain region or organization, and inform the design of new platforms that may provide capability uplifts. An interdisciplinary, service learning research partnership between University of the Free State, University of Virginia, and HiComm LLC demonstrates the framework in action across several use cases in South Africa. Lastly, the author discusses future work that is necessary both to expand the framework of Inclusivity Systems into other domains as well as explore new horizons for communication platforms such as HiComm.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
information and communication technology for development, inclusivity systems, essential human services
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: