Archive for October, 2017

Welcome back to the Silicon Valley, GHTC !

It has been three years since the last time the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference took place in San Jose. It is so good to see the community again – organizers, speakers, researchers, volunteers and participants who are passionate in learning, sharing and applying technology to solve problems that could improve lives of many people, especially those who are underserved. Thanks to all your hard work!

The conference started officially early monring on Friday, Oct 20, with the opening remarks by Dr. Dick Willkins, 2017 General Chair. Dr. Larry Alder, VP of Product Definition, OneWeb, delivered the opening keynote on: “Connectivity Challenge and Evolving Solutions”.


While many of us reading this blog has enjoyed Internet access, similar to the electricity  Рwith an increasing dependency in daily lives. In a significant part of US and the World, there is still limited, or no access to the Internet at all. The digital divide has affected the economic growth in regions that has limited connectivity to the Internet, i.e. limited access to the enormous source of information, knowledge and an effective way of communicating with each other.

Dr. Alder presented an emerging solution to bridge the digital divide, by building a satellite communication system that would provide coverage to include those regions that do not have connectivity currently. The new, small satellites can be built at lower cost, as compared to the traditional ones.  A large number of these satellites can be launched into the lower orbit to circulate around the globe and provide connectivity in areas where the infrastructure for internet access are not available on the ground.

Following the opening keynote that addresses a fundamental problem in the accessibility of information and communication technology, the conference proceeded with the parallel sessions in five different tracks, after the break:

  • Maternal Healthcare Issues
  • Micro-Grids
  • Agriculture
  • Water
  • IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee (HAC) workshop

Multiple papers were presented in each track, followed by questions and discussions.

The panel session on Energy was moderated by Joe Decuir, with panelist: Alexander Anderson, Peter Michael, Sarah Majok, Dr. Henry Louie & Bruce Nordman.

The afternoon was filled with two sets of parallel tracks, separated by a coffee break:

  • Physical and Neurological Health Issues
  • Solar Energy
  • Agriculture and Food Security
  • Water and Sanitation
  • Humanitarian Challenges and Opportunities


  • mHealth
  • Panel (1): Social and Economic Development of Rural Women in Rwanda and Uganda through Solar Energy for Productive Use Panel; Panel (2): Opportunities and Challenges of Distributed Manufacturing for Humanitarian Response
  • Agriculture
  • The IEEE MOVE: Disaster Relief Project “in a box” Workshop
  • Humanitarian Challenges and Opportunities

Finally, the evening session was completed by Ms. Sayre White’s talk about the great work that she and her colleagues at the non-profit AnnieCannons has been doing to train the survivors of human trafficking to be software developers and engineers.

Looking forward to the next 1.5 days of exciting programs and interesting discussions at GHTC 2017!


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