IEEE and Sustainable Development

By on October 26th, 2018 in Environment, Ethics, Human Impacts, Magazine Articles, President's Message, Social Implications of Technology, Societal Impact

Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Technology Activities

This month I will briefly discuss the work of the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee, which I have the honor to chair this year. I will also share some insight into the exciting program being developed for this year’s IEEE SSIT Flagship event, the 2018 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS), which will take place November 13–14, 2018, in Washington, DC.

New SSIT Publication: IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society

I would first like to proudly announce that a new publication, a Transactions to appear alongside our existing IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, has been approved by the IEEE. The new Transactions is entitled IEEE SSIT Transactions on Technology and Society. Thank you to everyone who helped and will continue to help SSIT achieve this major society milestone.

IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee

Reporting to the IEEE Board of Directors, the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee (HAC) is focused on supporting and strengthening the capacity of IEEE volunteers, staff, and Organizational Units (OUs) interested in contributing to or already involved in sustainable development and humanitarian technology-related activities.

With increased interest in and involvement by IEEE volunteers, staff, and OUs in sustainable development and humanitarian technology, SSIT is well positioned to make a strategic contribution.

With the support of Jim Jeffries (IEEE President), Karen Bartleson (Past IEEE President), and Jose Moura (IEEE President Elect), as Chair of IEEE HAC, I have instigated an ambitious engagement with major IEEE OUs (including TAB, MGA, EAB, PSPB, SA, etc). The objective is to build a comprehensive picture of current, planned, and completed sustainable development and humanitarian technology-related projects or activities, identify volunteers and staff already involved in such activities or who would like to get involved in such activities, and better understand the support (e.g., educational, training, mentoring, partnership, financial, and non-financial) volunteers and staff require to maximize impact. Over the coming months, SSIT members will receive a mail inviting them to contribute to this landscape analysis. I very much appreciate your support in sharing insight into both local capacity and support required.

SSIT Activities in the Sustainable Development Space

As you know, Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Technology is a core competency of our Society (Pillar 1). We have a strong track record of making strategic contributions to relevant conferences including the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (R6), IST-Africa Week (R8), and from this year, the Region 10 Humanitarian Technology Conference. As we have members across Regions 1 – 10, please reach out to me if there is an opportunity to become strategically involved in other relevant conference communities around the world.

The IEEE SSIT IST-Africa SIGHT (Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology) was established a number of years ago. Based on consultation with key stakeholders, we have focused our activities on digital literacy and technical capacity building in key areas aligned with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals including (but not limited to) Nutrition (SDG2), Public Health (SDG3), Education (SDG4), and Energy (SDG7). We are currently working with local universities in Northern Ethiopia, Western Kenya, Southern Malawi, and Eastern Cape, South Africa to build digital literacy capacity and basic infrastructure supporting technology adoption in health clinics in resource constrained environments. We would like to expand activities in other resource-constrained environments, based on a model of local volunteer engagement and support from local university staff and students with technical or science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) backgrounds. Please reach out to me if your university or SSIT chapter may be interested in getting involved in similar activities with your local community.

With increased interest in and involvement by IEEE volunteers, staff, and OUs in sustainable development and humanitarian technology-related activities around the world, the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) is very well positioned to make a strategic contribution around the world. This increased visibility provides us with an important opportunity to further strengthen the SSIT brand and continue to build both the number and size of active SSIT Chapters. It will also facilitate further strengthening linkages with Sections and Sister Societies around the world by supporting ethically informed engagement with local communities and other stakeholders by IEEE volunteers and staff.

IEEE ISTAS 2018 (Washington DC, November 13–14) – Call for Participation

We have already confirmed compelling Plenary Panels focused on topics including A Partnership Approach to Community Led Sustainable Development, Creating Ethically Informed Standards, Current Challenges in Technology Policy and the Future of Ethical Education. We hope that as many SSIT members and particularly SSIT Chapter Leadership and Volunteers will try to join us for the conference as well as a volunteer event on November 12. All active Chapter Leadership and Volunteers will receive an invitation over the coming weeks.

Call for Volunteers

I continue to invite you to help SSIT continue to make a difference in an arena of enormous complexity. Volunteer opportunities include:

  • Serving your local community through an existing or new SSIT Chapter
  • Contributing to the work of SSIT’s committees (including our Standards committee)
  • Volunteering to host SSIT Distinguished Lecturers
  • Submitting articles or review submissions to IEEE Technology and Society Magazine.
  • Reviewing submissions to IEEE ISTAS, Norbert Weiner, IEEE Ethics, IST-Africa Week, and other SSIT supported conferences
  • Supporting activities of the IEEE SSIT IST-Africa SIGHT in IST-Africa Partner Countries
  • Representing SSIT on IEEE committees (TAB, BoD, Standards, Future Directions Initiative)
  • Serving on the SSIT Board of Governors.

If any of these opportunities are of potential interest or if you would like to recommend someone, please contact me (Subject: Volunteer for IEEE SSIT – <name>) and I will direct you to the responsible team. If you have not received a response to a previous offer to volunteer, please accept my sincere apologies and contact me again so I can assist you.

Call for Donations, Gifts, and Bequests

SSIT’s 2018 fundraising campaign is focused on securing the level of resources required to scale activities over the coming years. Funds will be invested in further strengthening and expanding volunteer activities. Options to financially support SSIT volunteer activities include:

  • Donate to SSIT online
  • Mail a check payable to the “IEEE Foundation – SSIT Fund” to: IEEE Foundation, 445 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854, U.S.A.
  • Asking your employer to match your personal donation
  • Donate in honor or memory of someone who has touched your life or others
  • Direct a gift to the “IEEE Foundation – SSIT Fund” from your donor advised fund, foundation or family office
  • Providing a legacy Remember SSIT in your will
Author Information
Paul M Cunningham, 2017–2018 IEEE ­SSIT President, is President & CEO, IIMC (Ireland); Director, IST Africa Institute (; Adjunct/Visiting Professor, Interna­tional University of Management (Namibia); and Visiting Senior Fel­low, Wrexham Glyndwr University (Wales). Paul is 2018 Chair, IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee and serves on the IEEE Global Pub­lic Policy Committee. Email:
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