Innovation, Internet Access & Dengue Fever: Looking at Pakistan’s complex digital communications landscape

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Innovation, Internet Access & Dengue Fever: Looking at Pakistan’s complex digital communications landscape
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Pakistan is a country of 200 million people, with 70 percent of it's population under 30 years of age. With 25 million children currently out of school, creating jobs to accommodate these children when they enter the workforce is a big challenge facing Pakistan. Depending on how the government forms digital communications policies, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) arena could either be a savior or another lost opportunity towards economic growth in Pakistan.
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you and thank you all for coming hope people hear this OK um just because we have a very multicolored and interesting diverse audience such as like just quickly to what's the 1st thing you think of when you think of Pakistan anybody and here about what's the 1st association you have what you think of a country like Pakistan the world structured crowded to cast a great fusing fantastic so part of the reason we tried to do this talk in this way because we we had all sorts of ideas about what people might think all might imagine Pakistan to be like an I'm least qualified clustering of most of us here to make sure you get a proper impression Pakistan but we hope that will be able to give you a slightly different perspective on what you would imagine what you would think Pakistan could be like the country and to explore a little bit different dimensions of that specifically in relation to the public so if we go to the 1st 1 nite and that sounds good I just wanna point out I'm just 1 person representing an entire country so a lot of the things I just minor not of everybody in my country the the it so that I put this picture up because there's a lot of stories going on in this picture it's a picture of my family taken in December of 2008 at my sister's graduation and so what I wanted to speak a little bit about my family in now the way how I was raised in so I was raised in a religious household where my dad as a BMM covers ahead but then at the same time I I grew up to be non-religious and they're find that my sister doesn't cover and but my brother decided hey wanted a group you're right from the get go and so all of a different background like my sister thrown in for this graduation I was used during her Master's from the school of economics and my mom was funding entire graduate studies because she wasn't allowed to go abroad alone when she was young and so she 1 in my system to be able to do that and so on just have just so much you can find out from 1 picture from for 1 family in Pakistan every family understand as all of these stories where there's differences within a family there are differences between people within a country and so there's a whole bunch of stuff going on and it's not just that everybody's very religious and everybody's very outgoing the everybody's they nonreligious for that matter so there's a whole bunch of stuff going on by the Senate of that this picture would . model was that specifically just to imagine that the context the 1st was impacts Thomas last autumn and the scary thing for me is when I came back I go back to my hotel room and the 1st thing I did when I turn on TV there was a episode of homeland showing them if anybody seeing this slightly crazy confusing series and Pakistan was either the place where the Taliban were running around with the guns all where drone strike for being prepared by the CIA but there was not a single Pakistan person who's was being translated in the language they spoke so they I spoke english than the audience could hear what they were saying all they were speaking this gobbled something that's a Western audience typically would be able to understand in this weird language and they were shooting and killing people and blowing things up so you have this weird sort of perspective I've just come from this place and I come back and I see my own representation of the sort of what what a TV series also show me this is countries like it was supposed to be and how was the function ideas of confronted by this like in my own culture by and places around the American TV series was still a trying to show me things that are just like completely don't fit to this picture as I struggle every time when I see Pakistan represented the news when I see not of Pakistan as many countries in the world sure eliminate more of them but the extent to which you just you use of it hits you in the faces so where would you just come back from our admittedly very long and tiring flight but still have this emitted from the view that so this so starkly different from the picture and just doesn't even begin to reflect the diversity the creativity but also many of the challenges which we would easily take for granted and I think we have think if even excessive by the best example of that yeah about the sun had had had its 1st major really big outbreak of dengue a back in 2 thousand and 11 where about 20 thousand people were affected our in the city of order and and so on and about the safety of 75 people lost their lives on in the middle of the outbreak of realize that we didn't really have a really good disease surveillance system in Pakistan newspaper based in there was a need to and we weren't able to find out their out beforehand if an epidemic was a book about the spread and so what this picture shows the dashboard out that the Punjab ID board made where we're tracking a whole bunch of big a lot of our abcd dialog mosquito that carries they needed virus and and then there's a whole bunch of houses of confirmed patients and kind of find out where hot spots of being formed as such that we can then direct crews to words areas where they need to actually but before of eradication activities like the the space sector and and so from 2011 to 2012 and 2013 the onset of dengue is gone down a lot and the number of people who died were gone down from the 75 to ability to 40 people every year for the last 3 years and
inside that this desperate which was a lot about how a country which struggled and was caught unprepared and out of the blue and then he had been in progress from 2007 but never made a big epidemic and in 2011 we had this onset and nobody knew what to do about it and the government was got underway but now there's this whole ecosystem is about 1 . 9 million data points are within this dashboard alone and there's a prediction algorithm that did then defines that the epidemic is gonna spread next and then we measured the accuracy of that epidemic accuracy of that algorithm but with a dashboard over here now so how we collected the data from that because if I understand correctly you run a lab accident is involved projects like this way of of trying to basically better mapping better understand diseases and just I think also for the the global context little bit this is quite unusual in quite advanced tech where many like many parts of Europe many possible America would have this evolves models all basically be able to predict how diseases spread that correct yes so so there is a paper that my universities like NEC now we submitted for nature and and the idea is that we using cell phones or smartphones as a weapon of choice in print out from and we've given smartphones to a whole bunch of entomologist who go out there in the field and right to identify is the dialog or and they're doing it and under the naked eye and that kind of difference here between ADC says and Anopheles which is another rare form of muscular that's very common in in Pakistan but now 1 of my uh master's students in my lab is actually working on the image recognition and trying to figured out if to machine vision you'd able to identify deep dialog about worse is Anopheles to a smartphone so time to attach and thence to a smartphone and take a picture and then identify the feel out there in real time if it was an an action confirmed case of the eighties so not so that the fully pointed to the dashboard we a that not having to rely on the naked eye of monitors out and out interview nothing I think thing as well as you can see very well from the Federal Circuit another 1 which is sort of looking at mapping this quite well which at the floods and there again I think you can see really interesting examples like when there were big floods in Germany in the last 2 years was extreme difficulty in being able to predict how to go about it spread what the consequences would be just as there are very good models with a so I think that maybe they should call up your lab sometime and to explain how he felt the walking know because the is this idea that innovation is introduced in some parts of the world and then they have to teach the rest of the world how things are done but I think this is a nice example where we actually have really good maps some modeling it allows us to get around you agree with that definitely that again by the 2nd faces a whole bunch of challenges that have been recent and so in 2010 we had a major flood where 20 million people were displaced in 8 million people were less left homeless and so hard and we could see the floods coming so they lasted for 2 weeks and it's it's a bad feeling when you helpless and you can see that the entire country is going to be inundated in the next coming few days and there's not much you can do except for maybe like our going out interrupting grabbing people in evacuating and those kind of things was really fascinating about those slides was only about 16 hundred people lost their lives were 20 million were displaced and no major disease outbreak of basically and waterborne diseases when there's a lot of water out in the ground but then what we now realize this that due to climate change by this time with these these that's year after year after year and so in terms of resilience and you look at Bangladesh and how they've for that really well with and data with floods every every summer and so me in a couple of other friends of and is this dashed particularly images from a dash for the job ID board made this inundation map with satellite imagery but now we're going to do is is a professor at the university their work but he and his students are looking at satellite imaging to identify households that internet on these schemes that are highlighted on this map and then trying to figure out if we can determine the amount of water flowing on the streams and when the embankments gonna break and how large the spread of the water is going to be so that we can do as a mess this evacuation beforehand to the households where we take the waters can actually carry and so dour obvious of estimates that in so if you connected to a cell tower which is in NATO and that we think is gonna get flooded we're gonna send you an SMS on and then post now disaster as well have a friend of mine is a professor at the Institute space technologies from work and then he's looking at ways out where you can actually do a comparison of wild once the floods have taken place what is actually did get affected and aid to provide algorithm but we to forget our really do cash disbursement for people got affected by the floods to be able to do that more accurately and so further coming in a couple of months and this is the 1st guys who at panel of Figure out bootstrapping but there's a lot of computer science that were trying it social problems that we face and focus on right now so what is the SMSA you will definitely get wet treats you know what I was uh are has this so we're done we're going out to work on the exact content of the estimates but the idea is that by X R is your your house is gonna get funded and we suggest that you acted immediately or this is the nearest evacuation 1 from your house and this is how you can get there or this is the heartland where you can go on and get some help and figure out the iodine information around and the flood situation around your neighborhood called I think we also have some different examples we don't just go through Damien floods with you there's all sorts of other issues to be discussed as well
so outside of research that's happening there's a whole bunch of entrepreneurial activities happening in Pakistan as well in a lot of Pakistani start now starting to make it really big and the Innovation Ecosystem in and in and on the holidays starting to take off really nicely helps and and so this picture demonstrates an act came out back in our 2012 or 2013 and made really big it it was called group think and the idea was when you're taking a picture of a few friends of yours you really want be in that picture and so on what the what the actors does is it's just to pictures together so the weather the cameraman is takes a picture and then goes back into the ground with the rest of the friends and 1 person from the picture comes out and if the next picture and the sapa perfectly to together such that you don't find out that the government is actually not in the picture alone and so what they did is the whole donor funding and there's a lot of other start-ups of an amine actually use the million dollars of funding and we we haven't had the 1st major eggs yet in the start of the ecosystem but there's a lot of incubators that the government has started but then there are a lot of incubators and accelerators the private sector's targeted and there's a lot of started coming out and there's a German armor Rocket Internet it's it's it's a major and that also has offices in Pakistan and the recently acquired a local start-up quality it we're which basically does food deliveries of and merged with full band which is known so there's acquisitions mergers external investment we haven't seen the 1st elected but we we looking at a lot of innovation in the hall from the young entrepreneur that bit into yes in the city itself of so a lot happening at the moment yeah definitely others people don't realize is that this image of Pakistani red but there's a whole bunch of bonds that you mention the homeland and we I I watched all 4 seasons of all men into the amazing and we we we I love season for because it's funny because you can understand like there using google translate to translate into a good it's like the funniest translation ever it's a serious problem and then you laughing divided and this is video that we used in that somebody from bodies that made last did when while about what Pakistani single-formant but then when investors coming and then look at the Sydney innovation ecosystem that all lot there's a lot happening here so hopefully in the next few years ago now the exits and we're gonna make a billion-dollar started the game under Pakistani the flea acts about just rolled then we don't want to pretend this is
entirely on political talk so we want to give you a few other examples welcome you go for those with just 2 sure on so well before we talk about the politics of this 1 you quickly highlight some of the innovative stuff that the government itself is doing and so they commented large properties that are not known for innovation and and this is an example of the citizen feedback and monitoring program of the citizen feedback model and the idea is that governments are there to talk to the citizenry and they don't do that really well and 2nd they don't want in order work involves if you were to restaurant and you order for the last you have young so what did you like about the food itself governments already do that you go and get a guiding licensed traders and they don't go to ask the citizens what they thought they may be doing some performance evaluation injury but there's no external input coming into those evaluations and so a few years back there just a commissioned officer who asked that his employees a in the administration to collect cell phone number the people coming in and do some acquire government services of you when you get a driving license made if you went to find an FAR if you call the emergency services and they would request and 1 involuntarily quest yourself on and what this person would do is the next would just kind only people and say hey you came in yesterday to doctor the government How was your experience how much did you pay for a driving license and that's if you 1200 hours and the gentleman that this DC on your it cost 9 and . 9 Europe's but to make a license he knew that there was some corruption going on even if you didn't realize that was the case and so now that but with the job ID what is done is really skill this model up on the instead of having a real person called the recorded messages in the Chief Minister's voice and they made over 7 million phone calls on and the global call goes out and sits the genus shipment of docking you came in for this service with the Mycenaean a mess right after this can you please respond and then and there's over a million responses of the gardener of on a million responses and we categorize them into gratitude and corruption in all of those things and a lot of the times governments actually scared of getting feedback because they're ineptitude would come out would you be surprised how many of the dynasty that using all everything was just fine OK what it took a lot longer than expected but thank you so much for us and so we see that in and feedback mechanisms around the world with the governments of open themselves up to questioning and to feedback from the citizens there's a lot of gratitude that comes in as well so this was just 1 example and there's a q is a case study of this there's a link to that calling the public to power the state that was published in Princeton now you a couple of months ago about this program so that and put it another way in parts of the world for example in the UK have expressed reach those people with a fixed streets but it's about 50 or so there's he could fix a new york and the idea behind these kinds of silent things there's there's a crowdsourcing mechanism with citizens tend to report the support order there's a manual missing or a light note Stiglitz gone off this this is very different uh because this is not coming from the hackers is coming from within the government and asking about services such as the police and actual feedback about what they're doing and so this is slightly more different and then it's it's it's been ordered on the all 70 different departments within the Government so yes we are going to fix the entire garden government it's big task but it's like a pretty cool project so um moving
on just 1 other area we want to look at briefly before we go into questions that will be specifically 1 of the challenges that we've also see is that uh in response to some of the attacks on the sort of problems related to a terrorism and to sort attacks on the basis that exist in many parts of Pakistan but also things like visits from dignitaries at what is happening is that there's been disconnections of mobile phone networks and so it's quite common for a large part of the Internet for mobile phone networks to be cut off in some situations that the correct representation we say that the the idea is as in I don't want to say everything is really cool out and Augustin and we're freezing of water resource ideas and is an active war going on this you know it doesn't suicide attacks over 20 thousand civilians have lost their lives and so the government is responding to that in the sense that you know what 1 of these 1 of the ways I don't necessarily agree with it is a good deal switch where where they take off all cellular networks down if it's a public holiday if there's some values out in the street but the idea as in from their perspective they're saying that they're gonna protect and thousand citizens out on in the street and I the bombing media me go off the solve phone our I don't know if tearing out during of the entire countries of cellular services is the best way to stop and I II the device going off in a procession or something like that but there there is a whole bunch of of censorship word on information in this connection that happens and and I don't want to say that it's trivial or it's it doesn't affect citizens but at the same time there is a very real threat that we face in air and this country is left alone to protect itself and so this is 1 of the mechanisms of the government is using but I think 1 of the reasons we became interested in working on Pakistan as well as the research center is that we sold these disconnections Lapine quite frequently and there wasn't anywhere around the world very good documentation on understanding the consequences of what these connections are and so the better understand not to say that like this is never the right mechanism all this is always the right mechanism but rather to say these are the consequences of these mechanisms and together with most of our with other researchers were trying to better understand what sort of the social effects are in the same way as a trying to mapping if even trying to develop other things I think there's a lot of sort of innovation potential that you can see when you respond to this is you develop very quickly both better models and that's about doing things but also more advanced more better understanding of the data that you have because I think this is a challenge that we not just spacing in Pakistan but you can see in many parts of the world where this connection mobile phone networks and even in in Europe and North America the discussion about actually turn off the internet here shall we disconnect communications there these places where for example the Islamic but you can see that happening right now see what the consequences of the citizens and based on that and do research to better understand what's going on we'll jump to 1 or 2 slides animal work that's a few questions cultures the 2nd to to substrate to this what I think is the most interesting what is to be able to explain uh 1 of the other things that sort of historically we when use of saying that in all of these these attacks there's things going on here there's a war going on in Pakistan has always been the case is that the case like the last 50 years 60 years not
necessarily in my and life in itself as in before 9 11 for example there was not a single suicide attacker maybe 1 crazy guys of before 9 11 but now we have a all thousand so that it acts in the country itself and a lot of the times and the country associates itself with the war going on and on a summer day the the Soviets attacking our Gunnison another US and the water there is a lot of backlash and times if you look at the nineties and I could go to the grocery store on a bicycle and come back in 10 minutes in the red diesel sensed attack started happening it's become a lot better in the gums responding lot better but then I had to go to to do security judgment crumpled we open in mind would be open those can do things analytically 25 ms to Belgrade get ready and so going out there was a very different country and now it's it's become a very different country because it is it is an active war with what I want wanted to show with this picture was there's a whole bunch of really good stuff to publish studies were doing in the past and there's a whole bunch of really cool stuff that young Pakistani supplanted in the future to contribute to words the world and this this slightly which shows that the 1st picture is of the Kinshasa prominent who was a monumental part of figuring out the UN Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 something here's a woman that's representing part assigned in the UN National you an assembly now I'm talking about women's rights and conference elderly and those kinda things on and figuring out what the declaration of human rights needed to be right after watery from millions of people were killed and the 2nd pictures of mobile how was I would work well for the World Bank headed the UNDP and convince markets and that they needed to be human development index and the was the founder of the human development for when is that the UNDP in 1990 and so there's a whole bunch of stuff that the Pakistanis contributed in terms of intellectually to with the world and if you if I could literally just show the next picture and put it on the this is so cafe in the
hall we're having the group will meet up and I don't know how many people knowledgeable here but it's a show and tell for designers and if I had not label this picture in itself you won't find out that this coffee shop was in Berlin out in Pakistan for for example and there's a lot of young developers will get together often on it and discuss what the world you Iike or you actually to look like and how Pakistani can contribute to was that in like etc. the start approaches and dynamically and he allowance on which is a fiancée website after the US and India so there's a whole bunch of tech innovation that will come out of the country in the next few years as well so are there any questions since nobody is there haven't can I see a hand since there's nobody raising their and immediately just another point to stick with it into the real context of what we talk about so I work this way Center for Internet and human rights and just to emphasize again that when you're thinking about the 1st strong this document we have in the world the Universal Declaration of Human Rights everybody in the world knows that Ellen or rooms belts was 1 of those of main people involved in writing and she's very well known that most people have heard of shy state similar was a young Pakistani diplomat who was also 1 of the drafters of this document and so when this sort of these debates about about human rights strong to the world and it's this weird Western concept which we've been forced other people we forget that there were lots of other countries involved in drafting these principles including people from all over the world and this lady from Pakistan example as and you like in which way it's Internet censorship like the blocking of you to the problem of flora and ups so of censorship is starting to become a big issue in Pakistan where utility band because it to my destiny and the content hosted in the acquisition of NASA's content on the user-generated content that it has been banned for about 2 and a half years now on this still whole it's in impacted start-ups in positive and negative rates there's a whole bunch of big assuming that states that have come out of Pakistani response because they're no longer able to you but then on the other side is a whole lot lot of content that were not able this year we have to use proxy servers to access on duty was just the beginning is in its is becoming a lot more skewed year with the government now containing or announced you know that many WordPress and some of their content sharing websites as well and so censorship does happen to be the relation published on and there's a lot of civil society was trying to fight back there's a lot of our own organizations that represent the society that event back into this is not really draconian cyber legislation that that's in the National Assembly right now there are questions in the audience will and real could you put my conscience you might do this so uh I wanted to ask you because uh I have a friend who is from india and that I know that that basically India and Pakistan so the loss of similar problems uh he's working open source and he's working there in a south of community but to the what's the what's the strengthening he believes that says if you use the important and it's really needed by people in India and Pakistan and the India area because uh some people and so just able to to artists of the but they aren't able to process everything on the internet and they should use that there is there may be a lot of on there's a people would be able to to do so and uh so is there any kind of this passion in Pakistan and on on this because I believe that there are a lot of freedom fighters but others also people who believe that some kind of censorship use this important and uh what are they proposing q they are uh what so what do they believe in the what's the what means of censorship are important and that's a good very good question there's a whole bunch of people regains to our destiny and would come out on the streets video LA is made of but I Mohammed indeed be protesting on the streets of the Hoarders somebody but to there is definitely people who may or may not believe in the freedom of expression or who believe in censorship of such content and I'm not gonna say that that in the majority of somebody's otherwise the majority parties and actually believes that have blasphemous content needs to be taken down on that being said there at the same time you need to realize that about 20 years ago or 15 years ago Pakistan just had and like most other developing countries just 1 state on media here or television network and so all of this content and overflow of information that you get with the world wide web up is really you relatively vague you and to absorb all of this new information coming from all different directions it's gonna take time for the society to mature and I'm range hopefully and they showed that it will mature race and just to jump in there is always the fair 1 slide specifically which was looking a little bit more to the polarization of the society also responses of lots of acts of terror but also to sort of an ongoing societal debate about sort of what the appropriate role of religion in society and I think the challenge there is that the not so much of the censorship is always in every situation the appropriate tools but the the consequences of it and not well understood and so it seems like a very easy very straightforward solution which is very it just gets rid of the problem where each of the polarisation itself within society is a huge issue would you agree with that definitely our modest turn now sees a lot more for their responses to a lot of the stuff that happens on where if you look at this this so isn't gnostics cis and this is a Pakistani newspaper clipping and on the other side you have nowhere celebrating the guy in the governor who is of trying to fight against the blasphemy laws in Pakistan and to this day a lot more mobilization burden on both sites whereas maybe 20 30 years ago it was mainstream conservative Islam and so there's a lot of conversation happening in society which I think is Gordon work it's scale that so so polarized but hopefully it'll come back with conversation in society to any last question long but I think we could all use and it isn't you