Speaker: Tapan Parikh

Humanitarian Technology

Tapan Parikh is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on the use of computing to support sustainable economic development across the world.

When asked what kind of information interests him the most, he responded, "I am most concerned with the role of information in creating a fair, equitable, and free society that can best support individual creativity and expression."

Guided by the idea that relatively simple improvements in information and communication technologies can have a dramatic effect on the way businesses and markets work, Tapan founded a company called Ekgaon ­Technologies.  

The company has created information systems tailored for small-business people in the developing world--systems with the mobile phone, rather than the PC, at their core. His goal is to make it easier for these business owners to manage their own operations in an efficient and transparent way, and to build connections both with established financial institutions and with consumers in the developed world. 

One product Tapan developed is called Cam, a toolkit that makes it simple to use phones to capture images and scan documents, enter and process data, and run interactive audio and video.  Through this type of technology, a consumer can be assured that when he purchases fair trade coffee, a rural farmer is indeed receiving a fair price.
In 2007, Tapan was named Technology Review magazine's Humanitarian of the Year.

Join us this Saturday to learn more about Tapan's story, what has inspired him to create technology to help others, and to gain a fresh perspective on the humanizing aspect of technology, when developed with compassion.

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