In late October, I attended the first IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC) in Seattle. I was inspired by the event, which was driven by technologists who are dedicated to finding ways to use technology to help improve lives in developing countries. The meeting drew about 250 people from around the world. It opened with a description of IEEE humanitarian activities by IEEE President Moshe Kam and a summary of humanitarian engineering activities, world wide, by Tony Marjoram, former Director of Engineering at UNESCO. There were plenary panel discussions on “Humanitarian Technology – Good and Bad,” “What works and what doesn’t,” “IEEE Humanitarian Technology Challenge (HTC) projects,” “The role of professional societies in humanitarian technology,” “Smart grid projects,” and “Entrepreneurial funding.” And there were parallel sessions of contributed papers on nine more specific topics, as follows:
- Health, Medical Technology and Telemedicine
- Disaster Warning and Response
- Water Planning, Availability and Quality
- Power for Off-Grid Users
- Power Infrastructure / Renewable / Sustainable Energy
- Connectivity and Communications Technologies for Remote Locations
- Educational Technologies
- Agricultural Technologies
- Humanitarian Challenges and Opportunities
I closed the conference with some comments about the importance of making electricity available to the 1.4 billion people who do not presently have electric service. You can find my remarks on my web site.
UPDATE: The next conference will be held October 21-24, 2012, again in Seattle.