What can the Internet Do for the Underserved

What can the Internet do for the
Anthony K. H. Tung(鄧锦浩)
School of Computing
National University of Singapore
The Internet: Bringing Help Nearer
Obstacle 1: Cost
Obstacle 2: Education
Help providers
Those who
need help
Protection by Law
Computational Power
• Cost
– One time cost can more or less be overcome
although take up rate will be much higher if
hardwares can be made even more simple
– long term maintenance rate like energy and
bandwidth cost still an issue
• Education level
– Illiteracy definitely an issue. Only assumption
is that users can understand certain spoken
– Lack of IT knowledge ultimate test to HCI
Potential Solution: Peers Donor (Read)
• Peer-2-Peer connection with lots of weak clients
support by strong, collaborative donor peers that
contribute disk space, computation power and
• Webpages converted to audio to combat illiteracy
• Intensive mining operation done by donor peers to
compress and route relevant audio clips to weak
• “Internet Radio”: Cluster similar contents into
“channels” that can be receive by a simple audio
device. Content and channels can be select through
simple phone messages
• Can be extended to “Internet Video” for the “not
so weak” clients
weak client
Potential Solution: Peers Donor(Search and Write)
• Essentially try to avoid the need for users to perform
searches through mining and social network analysis
of tags in Web 2.0 technologies.
• More complex search interfaces should also be
developed to provide alternatives for searches.
Submission of a photograph to search for relevant
• Similarly, if a user want to start posting some
information on the web eg. A photo and a recorded
voice message, then very intensive mining operation
must be done to map the submitted information into
a webpage
Collaborator Groups
• More benefits can be brought to the underserved
through enhancement of the supporting
• Large number of volunteers around the world can
be organized into collaborator groups/virtual
organization to help the underserved in various
ways including
– ensuring transparent and efficient usage of financial donation
– providing expert advises in various domains including medical,
legal etc.
– providing protection for underserved
Financial Donation
• Financial donation must be managed by organization which in term
require a budget to run on. A dollar donated does not correspond to a
dollar reaching an underserved.
• The National Kidney Foundation saga in Singapore
– CEO receive million dollar salary and insist on first class flight
– Currently under criminal charge for various form of absure
• Managing financial donation as a collaborative group on the Internet
provide more room for check and balance and in term enhance
donor’s confidence
• Example: A dollar donated by a person might be routed immediately
to buy milk powder and this is information is also send to 4 random
peers in the collaborator group which will help to keep an audit trail.
Various privacy, security protocol need to be developed for this.
Expert Advices
• Can come in various forms,
–medical advices,
–underserved ’s search interpretation,
–tagging for various interest groups etc.
• Users/Experts ratio can be very high. Case based reasoning,
mining technologies can be used to boast scalability
• Abuses/prank call must be prevented
Providing Protection for Underserved
• Chinese fathers of child slaves seek help
online. State media reported the rescue of 31
people, forced to work for a year as slaves at
a brickworks run by the son of a local
Communist Party official in the same
• Communication between underserved and
central government difficult
• Collaborative watch group can act as middle
man to filter reports of abuse to government
• Among other things, system to filter off spam
and false report is essential to ensure the
trustworthiness of the system
Workers stand at a police
station after they were
rescued from a brickworks in
Hongdong County in Linfen,
north China's Shanxi
province, May 27, 2007.
About 400 Chinese men
whose children were sold to
work as slaves at brickworks
were seeking help online
after risking their lives and
spending all their savings in
a mostly futile search.
• To bring the benefit of the Internet to the
underserved, we have first look at how the obstacles
between the underserved and the Internet can be
overcome through peer donors nodes
• Subsequently, we also look at how the forming of
collaborating groups can in many way provide lot of
assistance to the underserved.
•Hopefully, you have identify some interesting research
problems in between.
A developed and civilized society will also
ensure it’s underserved are taken care of.