You are here

Keynote speakers

Enabling Sustained Rural Health Care Through ICT Innovations(Dr. Rahel Bekele)

In rural and remote regions of developing countries, the timely provision of healthcare before, during, and after delivery is considered a critical factor in preventing a majority of maternal and neonatal deaths. Lack of awareness of maternal health issues that require immediate care from skilled providers and time delays in accessing healthcare facilities make the delivery of effective maternal healthcare practices in rural and remote regions very challenging. Providing care in such complex and knowledge-intensive field also involves intensive information gathering activity. The Technology Enabled Maternal and Child Healthcare (TEMACC) research project was initiated in order to enable mothers (mostly illiterate) to receive public health related information and healthcare notification without the need to travel long distance. Due to its strong concern for community well being and increasing competence in ICT for Development, TEMACC made attempts to contribute to SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages and SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls and SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. The project contributed to these efforts by helping to implement innovative technologies to foster improvements in health intervention programs. In our TEMACC project, we consider ICT for Development an interdisciplinary field - unfolding in three dimensions (i) IT-enabled community intervention/empowerment; (ii) contextualized IT-system design; and (iii) IT-mediated knowledge enhancement. Viable approaches and methods need to relate to these dimensions to secure sustainable projects.

In this talk, we share experiences from our project. Challenges related to delivering a usable system that address the needs of illiterate mothers and rural healthcare workers are presented. Our innovative, unique techniques invented on-the fly are described. We underline critical reflection and negotiation as important instruments to enrich design artifacts, to resolve conflicts, to collectively innovate and agree upon design options and courses of actions. We also reflect on the adoption of innovative Ethnographic methods and context-based software design for sustainable IT projects.



Dr. Rahel Bekele is currently an associate professor at the School of Information Science, College of Natural Sciences, Addis Ababa University (AAU). She obtained in 2005 her PhD in Computer Science from the Department of Informatics, University of Hamburg, Master of Science Degree in Information Science from AAU in 1992 and Bachelor of Science Degree in Statistics from AAU in 1988. Since her employment in 1988 as a Graduate Assistant, she has been working at AAU in various academic positions. In addition to teaching, she has also served in key management positions - Dean of School of Information Science (February 2010 to May 2012); Director of the ICT development Office (January to June 2011); Chair of the Department of Information Science (April 2006 to Feb. 2008 & July 1998 to Dec 2001). Dr. Rahel has a wide-ranging research and consultancy experience within and outside of the country: Amongst her main engagements of research and consultancy outside AAU are: at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in gender related matters, at the Nile Basin Initiative in Knowledge Management and eLearning, at UNICEF in Development of Health Extension Program Database. Since 2010 She has been actively engaged in mobile health projects for maternal and child health programs. In particular, she has coordinated the activities of the technical team for the pilot project initiative by the Clinton Health Access Initiative to develop automated messaging system for expecting mothers. She was also involved in a research project of the World Bank in relation to mobile phone-based information exchange for maternal and child healthcare. Since 2015, she is the principal investigator (PI) and project coordinator of a research project entitled Technology Enabled Maternal and Child Health Care (TEMACC -Ethiopia), a project funded by the Austrian Government for the last three years. As PI in this work, she laid the groundwork for ethnographic and participatory approaches to user-centered design in the context of leveraging wireless and mobile technologies to improve public health practices in remote rural settings. Access to these technologies by marginalized populations is one of the key components of this effort, with considerations given to cultural sensitivity, affordability and supporting technology literacy.

Rahel presented her research works at the IT University of Copenhagen in Denmark in September 2014, Malmo University in Sweden, 2014, Johannes Kepler University of Linz, 2018 and University of Hamburg 2019, and at the International Conference of Information Systems (ICIS 2019) held in Germany.

Mobile Banking Security (Erik Poll )

Crime is motivated by money, so naturally online banking and digital payment systems have been prime targets for cybercriminals. In this talk I will give an overview of how attacks on banking and payment systems have evolved in the past decade in the Netherlands, and how defences have evolved in response. Even though the constant game of cat and mouse here will never stop, as technology changes and criminals changes their business model, there are some recurring themes and trends here that we can learn from for the future.


Erik Poll. Associate professor in the. Digital Security (DiS) group · Institute for Computing and Information Sciences · Radboud University Nijmegen. His research interests are formal methods and security, and ideally combining the two, though much of my security research is more applied.
In more detail, He interested in

  1. Security analysis and design of smartcards, RFID, smartcard applications such as electronic passports and EMV payment cards, TEEs, payment systems, smart grids (incl. EV charging) and automative applications.
  2. Formal methods and software security: formal methods to improve software security, LangSec (i.e. language-based security); protocol analysis, fuzzing, model-based testing and state machine inference for security protocols such as EMV, TLS, SSH and internet banking; program specification and verification, in particular for Java and Java Card.

The role of Unsupervised and Recursive Learning in Joint Deployments of Mobile Robots, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and Wireless Sensor Networks (Dr.-Ing. Habil. Waltenegus Dargie)

Latest developments in wireless sensor networks, mobile robotics, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) enable joint deployments in various contexts to fulfil various missions. For instance, they can be jointly deployed to monitor dangerous, inaccessible, extensive, or remote places during search and rescue operations or to investigate the extent and magnitude of a natural or manmade disaster. Similarly, they can augment human perceptions and physical operations (such as in remote rescue operations in underground mines). With the opportunity, however, various challenges also arise. To start with, these systems should self-organise to establish multi-dimensional networks, avoid physical collusions, carry out complex in-network processing such as data compression, fast and reliable end-to-end, multi-hop communication, and many more impromptu and application specific assignments. Besides, the robots and the UAVs should have highly reliable self-navigating capacity, recognising and avoiding obstacles as well as discovering new and efficient routes. Traditionally, these systems are developed and tested independently, with various underlying assumptions pertaining to their ultimate purpose and fields of operations, which, however, may not hold in the stated contexts. For instance, recent experiment based on practical field deployments indicate that a significant Cross Technology Interference (CTI) exists when UAVs interact with ground wireless sensor networks in order to collect data from these networks. On the other, these systems can learn a great deal from the data being harvested from the field they monitor, so that they can estimate the intensity of their involvement and the areas they should mutually cover. Since this has to be done in a distributed and unsupervised manner, the most plausible approach to extract knowledge seems unsupervised and recursive learning. The purpose of this talk is:

  1. To highlight the opportunities and challenges of joint deployments,
  2. To closely examine the scope and usefulness of unsupervised and recursive learning to help mobile robots and UAVs revise their belief about their mission as well as deployment environment, and,
  3. Share practical insights based on both lab and field deployments.


Dr. Waltenegus Dargie is Professor at the TU Dresden, Germany, heading the Energy Lab at the Faculty of Computer Science and acting as the Grand Challenge Coordinator of the faculty. He holds a PhD in Computer Engineering from the same university (2006); MSc in Electrical Engineering from the TU Kaiserslautern (2002), and a BSc in Electrical and Electronics Technology (with distinction) from the Nazareth Technical College (1997). Dr. Dargie is co-author of the bestseller book, Fundamentals of Wireless Sensor Networks. Besides, he has published more than 160 high quality scientific papers on wireless sensor networks, ubiquitous computing, and energy-efficient computing. In his spare time Dr. Dargie enjoys reading and writing literary books. Amongst his published and widely read literary books belong: ERMIAS, PEREGRINATION, PRINCESS MERSABEL, and THE REASON FOR LIFE. The latter closely examines the philosophies of ALBERT EINSTEIN, SIGMUND FREUD, FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY, and LEO TOLSTOY.

Bootstrapping NLP for under-resourced languages (Filip Ginter )

In the talk, I will summarize the experiences of our research group in developing essential NLP tools and resources for Finnish, then a highly under-resourced language from the NLP point of view. I will give an overview of the resources and technology that we built for the language, and give an insight on their value both in terms of basic research, and in terms of downstream NLP applications. I will discuss the main areas of current NLP research with a special focus on the most important enabling resources in the development of NLP for a new language.


Filip Ginter is an Associate Professor of language technology at the Department of Computing, University of Turku, Finland. He is one of the founders of the TurkuNLP group, with a track record of 138 publications and over 7000 citations. His experience includes work on major Finnish and multilingual NLP projects that gave rise to several tools and resources in broad use both in academia and the industry; most importantly the Turku Neural Parser Pipeline and contributions in the Universal Dependencies treebank collection. He also led numerous computationally intensive projects related to large-scale NLP resource creation, nearing the 100 billion word scale and was involved in the effort to train the Finnish FinBERT model. In addition to his university affiliation, Filip is also involved as a part-time domain expert in two companies developing NLP products and providing NLP services to industry users.


© 2021 ICT4D Research Center