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In this issue:
  • President's update on IEEE SSIT SIGHT activities
  • Introductions to SSIT Pillars' Committee Chairs
  • Calls for volunteers from SSIT committees and Norbert Wiener conference media production team
  • Upcoming conference announcements
  • Publication opportunities: IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine, and Ethical Dilemma section of SSIT and LMC newsletters
  • Report on SSIT participation at recent Asian Development Bank workshop

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Message from the President


I spent the last two weeks of April working in South Africa with colleagues from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa who are members of the IEEE SSIT Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT) as well as partners in the European Commission supported mHealth4Afrika Initiative. This initiative is applying a Collaborative Open Innovation based approach to the co-design and implementation of an open source, multilingual platform integrating electronic health records, monthly health indicators, and tablets and medical sensors at the point of care to strengthen primary healthcare delivery (particularly maternal and newborn healthcare) in rural and deep rural clinics across Africa.

Members of the IEEE SSIT SIGHT, together with staff from University of Gondar (Ethiopia), Strathmore University (Kenya), Chancellor College (Malawi) and Nelson Mandela University (South Africa) carried out a needs assessment that identified digital literacy and infrastructural challenges in rural and deep rural clinics and primary and secondary schools as local priorities.

We subsequently secured support from the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee (HAC) to purchase computing and communications infrastructure for the first phase of ten clinics in Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi. A digital skills literacy, maintenance and application training program is currently being developed by SSIT SIGHT members for implementation during May and June, in parallel with the installation of touch screen laptops, WiFi routers and tablets by university staff and students. A subsequent phase of activities will target delivery of health school programmes and digital literacy training at schools in close proximity to participating healthcare clinics.

Following the mHealth4Afrika technical planning meeting, IEEE SSIT SIGHT members spent several days doing fieldwork and moderating participatory workshops in the Eastern Cape with representatives of rural and deep rural clinics, as well as a district health manager, and representative of the local referral hospital. Healthcare workers had the opportunity to use and provide feedback on the mHealth4Afrika platform beta and the enabling technology provided by the IEEE SSIT SIGHT that will be introduced in participating clinics in Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi during May and June.

The rich discussion during these meetings reinforced the importance of local ownership and a pro-active approach to digital skills literacy, maintenance and application training whenever a SIGHT is involved in any intervention in a developing country context, let alone when introducing new technology. There is significant scope for the IEEE SSIT SIGHT to continue to scale its activities in partnership with local universities, based on the demand identified to date and the strong level of enthusiasm and engagement demonstrated to date by end-user communities. I also hope this model can facilitate the growth of SSIT Chapters and Student Branches around the world based on operationalization of SSIT's Five Pillars.

Membership Reminder

Please encourage respected peers to join SSIT and consider volunteering. Now is a perfect time for them to join at half-year membership rates (US$16.50 or US$2 for Student members). This is a fabulous opportunity to join our vibrant, growing, global community!

If there is no SSIT Chapter or SSIT Student Chapter near you, let us know if you would like support to establish a new Chapter.

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This month, we are pleased to continue our series of SSIT introductions with three of the volunteers who are leading new committees focused on SSIT's Five Pillars. Read on to learn about their backgrounds with SSIT, research and other professional interests, and visions for these three Pillars.

SSIT Pillar 1: Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Technology
Committee Chair: Satish Babu

I am Satish Babu, based out of the South Indian city of Trivandrum (capital of the State of Kerala). My home section is IEEE Kerala Section.

I have been an IEEE Member for close to two decades, and have been associated with SSIT since 2012. I am also a member of IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee (HAC) for 2017. Earlier, I served as the Chair of IEEE Kerala Section, as the Chair of the IEEE Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT) Steering Committee and as the General Chair of ISTAS 2016.

My background straddles the areas of development (especially poverty alleviation) and technology. During the first 15+ years of my career, I worked with grassroots communities in India, particularly small-scale fishing communities, in domains such as livelihoods development, technology, co-operatives and savings and credit. After the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004, I worked as part of the Civil Society response to the tsunami in all its phases: Rescue, Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction. I continue my association with development and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). My other involvement has been in professional/technical societies and fraternities. In addition to IEEE, I am active in Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Internet Society and am a Fellow and past President of the Computer Society of India.

I have been tasked with creating and maintaining the position statement of Pillar 1. Given the increased dependence of humanity on technology, the sustainability of the technology and equity aspects both become important. Humanitarian technology, in this context, does not relate merely to technology response to disasters (natural or man-made), but refers also to technology as an instrument for human development. Given the overall importance of this pillar, I hope to be able to project the pillar through multiple media channels: web, social media and print. Time and budget permitting, I hope that the committee will be able to undertake a few case studies.


SSIT Pillar 2: Ethics, Human Values, and Technology
Committee Chair: Keith W. Miller

I am Keith W. Miller, based at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, where I hold a joint appointment in Computer Science and the College of Education. I'm a member of the St. Louis Section of IEEE. I have been a member of SSIT for almost twenty years; I served on the board for several years, and I was the editor of Technology & Society for four years. My research interests include computer ethics and software testing. Both of those relate to Pillar 2 because I think the technical decisions in computing and ethical values are intertwined. As we move forward with Pillar 2 planning and programming, I hope we can clarify some ideas about ethics, and help to inspire IEEE members to be enthusiastic about doing the right thing, reluctant to do the wrong thing, and smart enough to know the difference.


SSIT Pillar 4: Societal Impact of Technology
Committee Chair: Tamara Bonaci

My name is Tamara Bonaci. Located in Seattle, WA, USA, I currently have a double affiliation: with the University of Washington's Department of Electrical Engineering, and Northeastern University's College of Computer and Information Science.

I have been an IEEE Member for the last eight years, beginning back when I was a Student member. I have worked most closely with the SSIT for the last year and a half, during which time I have volunteered as an SSIT representative with the IEEE Brain Initiative.

In terms of my interests, I am a researcher and an educator, interested in security and privacy issues, as well as the tech policy aspects of emerging technologies. My current research focuses on several emerging biomedical technologies, including surgical robots, brain-computer interfaces, deep brain stimulators, bionic eyes, and medical adherence tools. I also feel very strongly about diversity, and I deeply care about bringing and retaining underrepresented minorities in STEM.

My vision for the Pillar 4 committee is to support the development of new technologies that are safer, more secure and more privacy preserving (following the principles of safety, security and privacy by design). I am hoping that my colleagues and I will start from the recognition that assessing the impact of technologies (both existing and emerging) on safety, security and privacy of individuals, and societies is a complex task, requiring cross-disciplinary collaboration between scientists, engineers, medical practitioners, legal scholars, as well as philosophers and ethicists, and that we will be successful in establishing such a rich cross-disciplinary collaboration.




SSIT Committees

While it is clear that our committees are making good progress, we still need active volunteer participation by more students, young professionals, members, senior members, fellows and life member volunteers to ensure strong global representation for SSIT's core committees:
  • SSIT Pillar 1: Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Technology
  • SSIT Pillar 2: Ethics, Human Values, and Technology
  • SSIT Pillar 3: Societal Impact of Technology
  • SSIT Pillar 4: Universal Access to Technology
  • SSIT Pillar 5: Protecting the Planet - Sustainable Technology
  • Young Professionals and Students
  • Women in Engineering
If you are interested in contributing to one of these committees or would like to nominate your colleagues, please contact Paul Cunningham at pcunningham@ieee.org, with the subject: SSIT Committee "committee of interest". You can help him point you in the right direction by briefly describing your previous activities and track record in this field, your location (city, chapter, section), and some insight into the contribution you believe you can make. A responsible volunteer will follow up with you.

We encourage all SSIT members to submit their details to our volunteer directory on our website.


Media Preparation Volunteers Needed


Following the highly innovative and successful SSIT conference on "Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century," which was held in Melbourne in 2016, we are now looking for a team to assemble the conference presentations for the conference website. This promises to be an exciting project, focused on drawing together speakers and debates and presenting them to an international web audience.

If you have experience preparing online media and would like to lead or assist this activity, or if you want to develop your skills in this area, please contact Greg Adamson at g.adamson@ieee.org. We invite prospective volunteers to view an example of the 2014 Boston conference presentations at the website.



The following upcoming conferences should be of interest to many SSIT members:

IEEE Greening Through ICT Summit
3 October 2017, Paris, France


The 2017 Greening through ICT Summit (GtICT) examines opportunities both where information and communications technology (ICT) is used as a tool to improve environmental and societal functions, and improving the energy efficiency, carbon footprint and life-cycle management of ICT itself.

The Summit's objective is to identify the combination of key technological, commercial and public policy challenges that must be overcome to achieve sustainability in our increasingly connected world. As such, it seeks to build a broad dialogue among the research community, ICT practitioners and its vertical application sectors, equipment and technology providers, the ICT standardization community, and with public policy influencers and decision makers. To learn more, visit their website.


IST-Africa Week 2017
30 May-2 June 2017, Windhoek, Namibia


IST-Africa is a unique community that brings together cross-disciplinary stakeholders from the public, private, education and research, societal, funding and international development sectors with end-user communities focused on Innovation, Science and Technology and the contribution of research, innovation and entrepreneurship to Sustainable Development.

Hosted by the government of Namibia through the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology (NCRST), Supported by the European Commission and African Union Commission, and technically co-sponsored by IEEE SSIT, IEEE Region 8 and IEEE South Africa Section, IST-Africa Week 2017 is the twelfth in an annual series of Ministerial level Technology Research and Innovation Conferences focused on Sustainable Development and International Research Cooperation.

Confirmed keynote speakers include His Excellency Dr. Nickey Iyambo, Vice President, Republic of Namibia, Hon. Dr. Itah Kandjii-Murangi, Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Hon. Tjekero Tweya, Minister of Information and Communication Technology and H.E. Ambassador Jana Hybaskova, European Union Delegation to Namibia.

IST-Africa is cooperating with IEEE to organise the first IEEE Experts in Technology and Policy (ETAP) Forum on Internet Governance, Cybersecurity and Privacy to take place in Africa as the pre-conference event on Tuesday 30 May.

The IST-Africa Week 2017 Advance Programme featuring over 190 presentations from 35 countries can be downloaded from their website. For further information, please contact Secretariat@IST-Africa.org, and remember to follow IST-Africa on Twitter to get regular updates.


Persuasive Technology and Society Workshop
8 August 2017, Wollongong, Australia


The Centre for Persuasive Technology and Society is a newly formed Centre in the School of Computing and Information Technology at the University of Wollongong. Directed by Dr. Khin Than Win (MBBS, PhD), the Center will be hosting its first workshop on its research vision and current projects. Keynote speakers will include Mr. Paul Cunningham, IEEE SSIT President, and also Ms. Anni Campbell-Rowland, CEO of Intersticia and director of Brave Conversations. Additional information is available on their website.

The event will be held at the University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, Gwynneville. If you would like to participate please contact katina@uow.edu.au. There is no charge for this event.


Biometrics at the Border
9 August 2017, Wollongong, Australia


"Biometrics at the Border" is the theme of the Tenth Workshop on the Social Implications of National Security (SINS17). Participants will hear a range of speakers from academia, industry and government, present on pertinent topics related to how biometrics are being implemented for border control in Australia and internationally. Discussions will cover incremental technology innovation, social implications for citizenry, security and privacy challenges related to the implementation of biometric systems, changes to regulation and legislation, and government policy. For additional information, visit their website.

The workshop will be held at the Sydney Business School, University of Wollongong, Gateway Building, Level 8 and 9, 1 Macquarie Place, Circular Quay, NSW 2000. Anyone wishing to participate or express an interest in presenting should contact katina@uow.edu.au. There is no charge for this event.


IEEE 2017 International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS 2017)
9-11 August 2017, Sydney, Australia


The ISTAS 2017 conference in Sydney has been scheduled to coincide with the annual IEEE Panel of Conference Organizers (IEEE POCO) event from 7-9 August 2017, and the biennial IEEE Sections Congress from 11-13 August 2017.

The ISTAS 2017 theme, "From Good Ideas to Practical Solutions," is designed to focus on how we can identify a good technological idea and transition it into a practical solution that delivers real benefits to society. It will bring together scientists, engineers, technologists and scholars from multiple disciplines to hold a dialogue on many technological and societal issues, and collaborate on the co-creation of ideas to develop and utilize innovative solutions to address them.

For additional information, including the complete conference announcement, calls for papers, and information for authors, please visit the ISTAS 2017 website. General inquiries should be addressed to the ISTAS 2017 General Chair, Philip Hall at philip.hall@ieee.org.


IEEE Global Humanitarian Conference (GHTC)
19-22 October 2017, San Jose, CA, USA




GHTC focuses on innovation, deployment and adaptation of Technology for Humanitarian Goals and Sustainable Development. The conference invites presenters to showcase innovation and progress in technology and methodology addressing the socio-cultural and socio-economic needs of vulnerable and resource-constrained end-user communities in developing and developed countries, as well as confronting the challenges of both natural and man-made disasters.

Key focus areas that are particularly relevant include (but are not limited to):
  • Poverty alleviation
  • Healthcare
  • Agriculture and Food Security
  • Quality education
  • Affordable and clean energy
  • Clean water and sanitation
  • Connectivity and communication
  • Humanitarian challenges and opportunities
  • Disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery
  • Other United Nations sustainable development goals
For more information, visit the conference website.


5th IEEE Conference on Technologies for Sustainability - Engineering and the Environment (SusTech 2017)
12-14 November 2017, Phoenix, AZ, USA




SusTech 2017 is sponsored by the IEEE Oregon Section, IEEE Region 6, IEEE Phoenix Section and IEEE-USA. SSIT is a technical co-sponsor long term supporter of the SusTech conference series and host of the Social Implications/Quality of Life Track.

For further details, please visit the conference website. Sign up for the conference newsletter and watch for the Call for Papers to be issued soon.


3rd IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science, and Technology (ETHICS 2017)
12-13 November 2017, Ann Arbor, MI, USA


The theme for IEEE ETHICS 2017 is Ethical Innovations in AI/AS. Financial co-sponsors for the conference include SSIT, IEEE-USA, IEEE Standards Association and the Southeastern Michigan Section. Technical co-sponsors include the TA/TechEthics Initiative.

For further information, please contact the General Chair, Philip Hall at philip.hall@ieee.org.






Joint Special Issue-Call for Papers

The submission deadline for the March 2018 Joint Special Issue of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine and IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine has been extended! Additional information about revised deadlines and a link to each call for papers is available below. For further inquiries, please email Katina Michael at katina@uow.edu.au.

Additional information about each call for papers is available at the links below. For further inquiries, please email Katina Michael at: katina@uow.edu.au.


#1: Robotics and Social Implications in IEEE Technology and Society Magazine


Guest Editors: Ramona Pringle (Ryerson University), Diana Bowman (Arizona State University), Meg Leta Jones (Georgetown University), and Katina Michael (University of Wollongong)

Updated deadlines:
  • 22 June 2017: Submission deadline
  • 1 August 2017: First decision communicated to authors
  • 20 November 2017: Final acceptance decision communicated to authors
  • 10 December 2017: Final manuscripts uploaded by authors
Visit the IEEE Technology and Society Magazine submission portal.




#2: Socio-ethical Approaches to Robotics Development in IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine


Guest Editors: Noel Sharkey (University of Sheffield), Aimee van Wynsberghe (University of Twente), John C. Havens (The Global Initiative for Ethical Concerns in the Design of Autonomous Systems), and Katina Michael (University of Wollongong).

Updated deadlines:
  • 1 August 2017: Submission deadline
  • 1 October 2017: Author notification
  • 15 November 2017: Revised paper submitted
  • 30 November 2017: Final acceptance decision communicated to authors
Visit The IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine submission portal.


General Call for Papers: IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine

Dr. Katina Michael, senior editor of IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine, invites contributions to the publication's Socio-economic Impacts section. For more information, visit the CE Magazine website or contact Katina at katina@uow.edu.au.


Publish your Ethical Dilemma in the SSIT and Life Members Committee (LMC) Newsletter

As we mentioned last month, the SSIT and LMC have approved an initiative to publish brief articles (300-500 words) detailing society members' experiences grappling with ethical dilemmas in professional contexts. Beginning in June 2017, contributions of this sort will be published simultaneously in both newsletters after authors work with the editors of the two publications. If you have a story to tell, please contact the SSIT newsletter editor, Dr. Heather Love at Heather.Love@usd.edu.




SSIT Participates in ADB Workshop on Gender and Social Inclusion in Microgrids

Submitted by Satish Babu

From 19-20 April 2017, IEEE SSIT participated in the workshop "Smart Grid Technologies and Implications for Inclusive Development," which was organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and took place in Bhopal, India. The workshop was primarily concerned with Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) in the context of different types of renewable energy deployments, such as utility scale (such as "solar parks"), grid-connected solar roof-top photovoltaic (PV) systems, decentralized off-grid PV systems, and other energy sources such as wind and biomass and mini- and micro-grids. The workshop discussed the current state of these systems and the need for mainstreaming of GESI in them. Geographically, the workshop was focused on different states in India, but also covered experiences in other regions of Asia-Pacific.

The workshop noted the remarkable amount of innovation that was taking place in the domain of renewable energy, particularly solar, and also in ancillary technologies such as LED lighting, DC motors and "solar" pumps, and Smart Grids and leading to increased flexibilities and a steady decline in costs. These factors were driving the growth of the domain, and, given the current trends, renewables would form over 50% of energy generation in India by 2025.

The workshop pointed out that side-by-side with this growth, it was important to ensure inclusiveness and in particular, gender equity. Technology and social settings were to co-evolve, and ensuring inclusiveness can go a long way in ensuring the economic and social empowerment of communities and women in particular. ADB has been taking special initiative in the mainstreaming of GESI, and consequently, there were several innovative programmes such as the "Barefoot Women Solar Engineer" programme of Rajasthan State which trained women in installation and maintenance of solar power systems.

For women, the availability of power resulted in an enhancement of the work day, more spare time, more productivity for livelihood systems that could be automated, higher incomes, less drudgery and improved quality of life. Under the World Bank's Global Tracking Framework, the community use of power was categorized into five tiers:
  • T1 (Task Lighting and mobile charging)
  • T2 (T1 + General Lighting + TV, Computer and fan)
  • T3 (T2 + Fridge, air-cooler, freezer, food processor, washing machine, water pump and rice cooker)
  • T4 (T3 + Iron, hair-dryer, toaster, microwave)
  • T5 (T4 + Air conditioner, space heater, water heater and electric cooking)
While some of the micro-grids targeted T1 and T2, the Workshop was generally of the opinion that the aspirational goals of users tended to require at least T3, which required one kwh per day or T4, which required 3.4 kwh per day. The trajectory of development of technology also would make T1 and T2 obsolete shortly.

Satish Babu, 2016 SSIT Kerala Section Chapter Chair, and General Chair of ISTAS 2016, represented SSIT at the workshop. In his presentation, he introduced the audience to IEEE SSIT and its five pillars, and pointed out the ethical and social aspects that SSIT continues to uphold within the IEEE community and outside. He also discussed the experience of the IEEE Smart Village Project in India, which had installed about 65 micro-grids (24-V DC microgrids with 250w PV panels, 2 x 12V batteries, 30 x 3w LED lights and some specially converted LED TVs) in the Indian Himalayas. These were installed mostly in isolated villages, all of them above 10,000 ft altitude, and used the services of a local partner for social intermediation.

For practicing engineers, there are several takeaways from the workshop:
  • Mainstreaming of GESI has emerged as a cross-cutting concern for all development projects
  • Those involved with the design of components, development of solutions and their assembly, all upstream components to deployment, should also consider "upstreaming" GESI in these phases as well
  • From a social sustainability perspective, the solutions that we design should match the aspirational goals of communities and not just technical efficiency.
  • The future of energy systems is not only in national and regional Smart-grids, but also in decentralized local community energy systems.
  • Finally, there is perhaps no better way to help impoverished communities than helping the women of those communities.




Stay Up-to-Date with IEEE SSIT Happenings

Visit the SSIT Blog for news items and the latest Society updates.


Newsletter Submission Guidelines

If you would like to submit a news item, SSIT-related update, volunteer opportunity, Call For Papers, award notice, or idea for a "Feature Article" for a future issue of the SSIT newsletter, please contact the editor Dr. Heather Love at Heather.Love@usd.edu. Submissions for the June 2017 newsletter are due 24 May 2017.


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