Past and minor Involvements

Friday, October 02, 2015

#SustainableInnovation and the next generation innovator

Elaborating on the UNDP Social Good Summit Presentation (, we need to act to bring nature back into harmony with us humans. The world is in a decline due to our unsustainable use of it's resources. No one will take action unless we as individuals foster the right thinking and action in our homes, companies and public orgs. Corporates are stuck in their microcosms of competition to deliver pure profit/shareholder value. What is the point of turning in a profit/shareholder value, if you end up with a destroyed world where that value means so much less. Innovators have a key role to play to help connect the dots and disrupt unsustainable processes and technology with sustainable alternatives that creates multiplies in the supply chain. Innovators are often too passionate about technology that they forget to think about the big picture of the impact that that innovation will have on the world. Innovation = #SustainableInnovation is the new way we should think as scientists, inventors and innovators.

Here how to identify unsustainable process and technologies that you can disrupt with sustainable innovation. Often this also results in costs savings to the bottomline as well, but it should not have to:

  • What is the waste the business process produces? How much can that amount to in a year? What new tech can be applied to reduce wastage? ( e.g. Can we have more just in time approaches) 
  • Can the waste of one business process be recycled for another process also saving resource costs? (e.g biofuel created by waste) 
  • How much energy saving does applying technology Y provide against previous technology X. TCO should always factor energy used. (e.g. Moving from physical server machines to the cloud) 
  • How much no-renewable raw material is needed to create energy for the business process (e.g. can we add solar?) 
  • What if the product/service line becomes tremendously successful? Can you sustain growth sustainably? How can you create economies of scale such that the resource impact is better than linear? 
Become a Next Generation Innovator, become a #SustainableInnovator, or your generation will not have a world to enjoy your success. It is up to you.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Ideas on Accelerating the SDGs using Technology and Innovation

Recently I was invited to present at an UNDP organized forum on the day of the launch of the new SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) to talk on how technology and innovation can make a different. The presentation is given below and key points that is contained:

  • IPAT equation and how technology can contribute to reduce T (emissions/consumption) but also A (consumption/person) through social engagement
  • Also noted that we need to connect the dots from the 18 SDGs and the many 169 Targets to simple day to days actions individuals can perform
  • My idea for engagement was to use a gamifiied Mobile experience similar to Nike Fuel at different levels from kids (Plants vs Zombies experience). Possibly by planting a tree you can earn 2 SDG game points or by reducing energy consumption. Need to think through how you would validate it though.
  • Also we need to connect the dots to online purchase. Think if Amazon had some SDG ratings for the goods you were planning to purchase. Wouldn't knowing that the products were build by companies that thinks like "we do not test on animals", "no toxic materials used" validated by a 3rd party like the UN Global compact or similar

The presentation explains this in more detail (Slide 9-12)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Sahana Camp and IOTX Events

We had a great series of events at the IOTX ( with multiple events such as the Sahana Camp, OASIS CAP codefest, Sahana Training and ISCRAM. We had representatives from US Embassy, UNDP, Red Cross, IUCN, UNICEF, ICTA and World Vision interested in Sahana

Had an opportunity to recap the last 10 years of Sahana evolution at a keynote I provided. Given below are the master slides if you are interested in seeing how Sahana evolved to where it is today

Great team work from the Sahana community with participation from contributors who joined us in Sri Lanka from US, UK, Germany, New Zealand, India and Australia

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Learning Software Development the Open Source way: A student guide

A book I co-authored with Professor Allen Tucker and Professor Ralph Morelli targeted mainly as a semester course for students was recently published by Chapman and Hall/CRC as part of their innovations in software engineering series and is available on Amazon titled "Software Development: An Open Source Approach"

Background to book and value to students interested in a career in IT
Participating in Open Source is a fantastic way for computer science students to get some hands on experience in a live Software Engineering project, especially before they start a professional career in Information Technology. Participating in an Open Source provides invaluable experiences that closely emulates what they have to face in the real world of professional software engineering, which a pure academic project or simulated mock project cannot offer. Additionally internships with software engineering firms often does not sometimes provide the full range of experiences needed as students are rarely permitted to participate in the critical parts of a billable client project thus their access and exposure is often restricted. Open Source projects however welcome contribution and the sky's the limit in terms of what you can contribute. You are valued more for the quality of what you can do, rather than how many years of experience you have under your belt. Participating in a global Open Source project also is not just about coding, but also about getting exposure to some of the invaluable soft skills needed to becoming a well rounded professional software engineer or architect. This includes interacting with diverse people from developers to users, documenting for those different audiences, understanding software usability, software intellectual property boundaries and learning how to promote your product and yourself. And if the student does well, it also gives them valuable credentials, referenceable experience and a global recognition that could serve to rapidly develop their career. Invaluable not just for students but even professionals who have still not got into Open Source. The book is a hands-on guide for you to get involved and becoming a valuable part of a Open Source community. Hope you enjoy it and do send us feedback for our next edition.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

OSI Days, India and Article on the Open Source License Compatibility for the cloud

Recently wrote an article based on my comments at a panel discussion at the OSIDays conference in India. It was also published in the Financial Times. I welcome comments (next blog post)

OSI Days was held in Chennai, India and is an evolution of Linux Asia, re-branded.
Picture is of a panel discussion I participated in on programming languages

The conference schedule was done based on input and it seems that PHP is still the most popular language of choice especially in Chennai. 

 Panel Discussion on Open Source for the Cloud with some of the Open Source Business leaders in India

This picture is with the two project leaders of the two most popular PHP frameworks, Zend Framework and Symphony

Picture with leading Drupal developers and the author of Adminer and PHPMyAdmin alternative.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Emergency Information Systems Interop Workshop for better preparedness @ ISCRAM 2011

I would like to announce that we are organizing an emergency/disaster information systems interop workshop for the next ISCRAM 2011. The interop workshop will be an environment where software vendors and information systems solution providers can bring in their systems for testing against popular information exchange standards such as PFIF, CAP, GeoRSS, EDXL Standards, GIS Standards, etc. The structure will be based on the Apache interop workshops. More importantly we will want to test, improve and validate information exchange between systems for certain popular pre-defined use-cases utilizing these standards. Thereby the results of this workshop will serve better preparedness by assuring that the systems that participate are able to exchange data effectively and work more efficiently in partnership at the time of disaster response.

The interop workshop will be part of the information systems interop standards track, where you can also submit research papers, work in progress papers, practitioner presentations covering best practices and demos for inclusion in ISCRAM. We are also welcoming presentations on new, existing and emerging interop standards for educational purposes to help improve awareness, facilitate feedback and adoption.

Participants interested in participating for the interop workshop can submit their solutions/products/demos/
functional prototypes as a demo for this track.

Further submission details can be found at:

For information of the ISCRAM 2011 conference the main website is:

We look forward to your participation to this much needed exercise. If you have any suggestion on this track please do not hesitate to contact myself, Renato Iannella or Tom de Groeve. We also want to form a steering committee for the interop workshop, so do let us know if you would like to join that.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Why Virtusa supports QA teams volunteering on OLPC?

Virtusa has been applying and contributing to Open Source R&D for quite a long time now, from Apache contributions on Web Services, to the Sahana Disaster Management project in the wake of the Tsunami and most recently to OLPC. In the case of OLPC through with our experience with Open Source, we realized that there is much opportunity to contribute to Quality Assurance (QA) as most often Open Source volunteers are motivated rather by the research and development side of the project and there often is not enough focus on QA. Yet projects like OLPC and Sahana have a global impact and in the latter case needs to be mission critical, thus the quality and stability of the system should be a very important part of the project.

Why OLPC? Well despite the challenges OLPC foundation has had based on their policy for deployment (e.g arrangements only with Govs and not with the private sector for deployment), their mission to empower children is certainly very honorable and something that should be supported by all of us to help bridge the digital divide. It also has to be noted that some people have mis-understood the OLPC. It is supposed to be a tool that will supplement (and not replace) existing education systems and empower especially children in rural communities, who otherwise would not have access to IT or IT teachers for learning, enabling them to learn for themselves. OLPC also has had a much broader indirect impact, as it has been a flagship product that greatly helped bring about the netbook revolution and simply the existence of the OLPC and it’s $100 target has certainly helped drive down costs and have got people thinking about other low-cost solutions for educating children in rural communities. This competition is healthy and it will certainly progress further with the upcoming releases of the OLPC 1.5 and OLPC 2.0 (touch based, iPad like laptop), embodying a lot of lessons from the deployment of the first OLPC 1.0s.

Overall Virtusans volunteers have spent about 40 man months on the project so far delivering about 800 test cases. A good deal of time was spent learning how the system is supposed to work, especially as Open Source projects typically do not have well defined requirement specifications and Use Cases, which are normally used by our teams to derive test cases in client projects. But now we do have sufficient knowledge to quickly nurture new contributors and we presently have volunteers in India and Sri Lanka contributing off our spare QA capacity on the project. One area we are specifically looking at now is test automation on the Redhat based sugar operating system as a mechanism for providing more efficiency for testing new builds.

Virtusa and Virtusans will continue to help OLPC achieve their goals by supporting the team with QA contributions as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility in a initiative we call Tech Reach.

Related Articles:

CSR Wire
Andhra Business

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Idea: Building in mobile phone beacon technology to help search and rescue operations

Telcoms infrastructure is often down or saturated during a disaster, however even if a mobile device cannot be used to dial a call or send an SMS, they inherently have another capability. Mobile devices are effectively radio transmitters that with very little modification should be able to act as locating beacons to locate trapped people in the locality of say about  within a 200-500m radius.

Mobile phones are quite pervasive now with high penetration even in developing nations . These days most people carry a mobile phone wherever they go.  During my visit to Taiwan, I got an opportunity to speak to a leading OEM chip chip manufacturer, who’s chip functionally ends up in a great amount of phones today and they informed that this very doable. 

Please do not confuse this with locating mobile phone using cell towner triangulation techniques as that lacks the granularity to locate people in for example a trapped building block. With this you should be able to say the number of phone in for example a collapsed building and make a guess at the amount of people trapped. The natural attenuation of the signal also should help build a suitable “metal detector” like tool to direct a search and rescue operation to the mobile phone and the trapped people or bodies with them.

You might also counter saying that GPS technology can be a better locator, however GPS technology requires a clear line of sight and even to SMS their location it all requires active input by a potentially unconscious person and a level of literacy on mobile functionality beyond the basics.  If anything the only input required would be to say someone is OK, so that their signal no longer contributes to the noise of multitudes of signals of the number of people with mobile phone in say a 500m radius. Or they might annotate their signal with a request for urgent help or with other information if they so wish, but that would be optional. One issue is battery consumption as most of the time mobile phones are not transmitting, but are passive receivers which require consumes far less battery power. Transmitting a beacon will have to be done in very energy efficiently way. Like a periodic beep and powered for say a maximum range of 500m.

Yes you might worry about privacy or abuse in non-disaster times, in people being able to locate you, and there should be a way for the user to turn it off when needed or it is something that is turned on only on a cell broadcast by a tower. Detectors, which would be specialist directional devices that can locate people with such granularity has to be restricted to emergency use though legislation.

Additionally in more advanced phones you might be able to use it as simple short range walkie talkie to permit those that are trapped to communicate with the rescuers and broadcast a help message.

I am going to follow up on this possibility, which I thing will have a significant impact for search and rescue. Thoughts?

Sunday, July 04, 2010

UN APCICT/ESCAP Publication on ICT for Disaster Risk Reduction includes Sahana

The recent UN APCICT/ESCAP Case Studies on ICT for Disaster Risk Reduction includes the Sahana project focusing on the experiences deploying Sahana for the Haiti Response. It includes a lot of other case studies and best practices in different countries in the Asia Pacific Region and is a worthwhile read. You can find the publication on the UNAPCICT website at I co-authored this case study with Mark Prutsalis. Thank you to APDIP for continuing to recognize Sahana contributions in this sector.