Operationalizing SSIT’s 5 Pillars

By on July 28th, 2017 in Human Impacts, Magazine Articles, President's Message

Pillar 1: Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Technology

IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology volunteers are making significant progress in many areas. This month I will briefly discuss SSIT Pillar I, which is dedicated to Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Technology. Sustainable development is often defined as an approach to economic development that significantly reduces and eventually eliminates the consumption of natural resources. Humanitarian technologies are defined as the use of mobile and social media to assist in circumstances related to humanitarian relief efforts and disaster recovery.

SSIT is actively involved in relevant conferences such as IST-Africa Week (Region 8) and the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GTHC) (Region 6), and is interested in developing relationships with similar conferences in other regions around the world. SSIT can contribute compelling keynote speakers and panelists who can share thematic expertise, research results, and practitioner based insight.

SSIT continues to build our bench of Distinguished Lecturers (DLs). Remember that SSIT DLs do not have to be based in the same region as the national or regional meeting or conference at which they will be invited to speak. If a speaker is traveling a long distance, please consider organizing an “SSIT DL Roadshow,” with one or two public lectures complementing a conference keynote or panel, so as to maxi-mize impact and strengthen SSIT brand awareness.

The SSIT Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT) that I established in 2015 now includes staff along with increasing numbers of post-graduate students from University of Gondor (Ethiopia), Strath-more University (Kenya), Chancellor College (Malawi) and Nelson Mandela University (South Africa). SIGHT carried out a needs assessment that identified digital literacy and infrastructural challenges in rural and deep rural clinics and in 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 10 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 2017, 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 programs and digital literacy training at schools in close proximity to participating healthcare clinics.

Call for Volunteers

SSIT volunteer opportunities related to sustainable development and humanitarian technology include:

  • Join your SSIT Chapter Committee to operationalize local activity
  • Volunteer to host SSIT Distinguished Lecturers (DL)
  • Submit relevant articles or review submissions to T&S Magazine
  • Review submissions to the annual IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS), SSIT’s flagship event, or to other SSIT supported conferences such as IEEE Ethics and IST-Africa Week.

Finally, with the discounted membership available at this time of year, there has never been a better time to encourage respected peers (including students and young professionals) to join SSIT. Note that currently IEEE student members worldwide are offered a $4 per year rate to add SSIT to their membership.


Paul M Cunningham, 2017–2018 IEEE SSIT President, is President & CEO, IIMC (Ireland); Director, IST-Africa Institute (www.IST-Africa.org); Visiting Professor, IUM, Namibia; Visiting Senior Fellow, Wrexham Glyndŵr University (Wales); 2018 Chair, IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee; Member, IEEE Global Public Policy Committee. Email: pcunningham@ieee.org.
Full article: