IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference

BY George McClure Posted: 1 Mar 2012

IEEE-USA was a technical co-sponsor, of this first-ever global humanitarian technology conference.  Following the Conference theme of Technology for the Benefit of Humanity, the conference attracted 222 registered attendees to hear a program that included over 110 papers and three tutorials.

 

Three parallel half-day tutorials preceded the conference:  Affordable Energy Solutions for Developing Communities; Village-Level Renewable Energy Projects for the Developing World; and Systems Thinking and Village Development.

 

Much pro bono work has resulted in open source designs to provide power that can be readily replicated and are scalable. With IEEE sponsorship, the Community Solutions Initiative was formed to meet these needs.  http://communitysolutionsinitiative.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/csi-introduction.pdf .

 

IEEE-USA was a technical co-sponsor, of this first-ever global humanitarian technology conference.  Following the Conference theme of Technology for the Benefit of Humanity, the conference attracted 222 registered attendees to hear a program that included over 110 papers and three tutorials.

 

Three parallel half-day tutorials preceded the conference:  Affordable Energy Solutions for Developing Communities; Village-Level Renewable Energy Projects for the Developing World; and Systems Thinking and Village Development.

 

Much pro bono work has resulted in open source designs to provide power that can be readily replicated and are scalable. With IEEE sponsorship, the Community Solutions Initiative was formed to meet these needs.  http://communitysolutionsinitiative.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/csi-introduction.pdf .

 

For Haiti, a “yellow package” battery kit was developed providing 18 ampere-hours of electricity, using a 12-volt battery. A light stick with 1/5 watt power consumption enables a user to read a newspaper in the dark.  Ninety-six homes can use light sticks for a charge of one dollar per month.  IEEE is cooperating in a program with Sirona Cares, a non-profit already operating in Haiti, to provide basic electricity in the homes of one million Haitians using this sustainable business model. Station operators get a percentage of the retail collections.  http://communitysolutionsinitiative.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/csi-solartrailer-part-1.pdf   

 

Affordable wind turbines are useful for energy poverty alleviation.  In Zambia, only 25 percent of the 12 million population have electricity.  A small wind turbine generates 30 watts to serve a village of 1,000 people.  Charging cell phones at 20 cents to 30 cents per charge is affordable for farmers who need market information, for example.  Future plans include a 100 watt wind turbine. http://communitysolutionsinitiative.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/csi-wind-turbine.pdf

 

In June of 2009, Humanitarian Technology Challenge solution teams were formed.  In the simplest terms the overall challenge was to find better ways to apply technology to alleviate human suffering in the world.  The HTC was initially sponsored by the IEEE and the United Nations Foundation.  For the last two years, the IEEE has been the sole sponsor.

 

To help people living in the poorest parts of the world, the Reliable Electricity Solution Team, chaired by Butch Shadwell of IEEE Region 3, set out to design and build a prototype power system that would take a first cut at creating electrical solutions to these issues, and act as a field experiment to gather more firsthand information.  As a result, two systems for off-the-grid lighting, using photovoltaic panels to provide 300 watts for high-output LED lamps, were installed for schools in Nicaragua last year.

 

A similar system was installed in Kenya in December 2011 was designed,  so that someone with no familiarity with electricity could intuitively put the system together, and make it operate without danger of damaging any components. 

 A Facebook page with comments about the excitement of villagers who have electric lights for the first time is found at http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150439349806482.359184.88946606481&type=3  [Butch Shadwell is wearing a straw hat in the first photo.]

A Flatter World

 

In the conference’s closing remarks, IEEE 2012 President (and previous IEEE-USA President) Gordon Day called for IEEE to take on the challenge of Global Electrification, and announced that would be a top priority for his term as IEEE President.  Over 1.4 billion people worldwide – 21 percent of the world’s population, according to the International Energy Agency-- are off the grid.  They don’t have access to electricity. 

 

 

NOTE:  Forty-seven photos taken at the conference are posted at http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.212068665532537&type=1   Counting from the top left,

#22 shows a human-powered bike that is rigged to provide 40 watts of electricity.

#23 shows Gordon Day during a break.

#35 shows the yellow battery pack (light on) and a one-fifth watt LED light wand (sufficient to read a newspaper in the dark) used in Haiti

#38 shows Butch Shadwell and Gordon Day in the exhibit area near the bike-powered generator

Five links at the left side of  the page http://www.ieeeghtc.org/  have audio from radio coverage, “The Science of Tomorrow” of  the conference.

Virtual online sessions are accessible from the right side of the page at http://www.ieeeghtc.org/pdf/GHTC-Online.pdf

From the lower left side of the page, the viewer can go to an IEEE.tv promotion for the conference.https://ieeetv.ieee.org/player/html/viewer#2011-ieee-global-humanitarian-technology-conference-ghtc-event-promo

 

George McClure is government relations editor for IEEE-USA in ACTION.

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