U-M to help improve communications technology, data in underserved communities
ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan School of Information has announced the future establishment of two new information centers to improve communications infrastructure in underserved communities and advance data usage by organizations that serve populations in those areas.
The 2G Lab will create a space to test problem solving and the design of tools and applications that work with slower mobile phone technology. While it is common to have 4G coverage in most developed countries, 2G is still the primary way people in developing countries access the internet.
The lab will simulate a rural or urban context in developing countries in which students will be presented with problems to solve using slow internet connections and simple devices.
The Data4Good Center initially will focus on technology-related data relevant to nonprofit organizations and their communities. While large international organizations are able to do their own data collection and analytics, smaller NGOs and nonprofits lack the resources for such analysis, especially for the data science involved with Big Data analysis.
The Data4Good Center will train students to gather and analyze data and present their findings to underserved nonprofit clients. Amassed data also could provide a resource for researchers within and without the university.
The centers will be designed and managed by Edward Happ, a global IT leader with a background in nonprofit management, consulting, financial information services and technology. Happ is the newly appointed Executive Fellow at the U-M School of Information.
“Ed Happ has come on board to establish two centers that we believe will make significant contributions toward improving how people connect and communicate in the 21st century,” said UMSI Dean Thomas Finholt. “With his technical expertise and extensive background working with international nonprofit companies, he’s the ideal choice to head these two new initiatives.”
Happ is the former global chief information officer of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, based in Geneva, Switzerland, and the former chief information officer of Save the Children, based in Westport, Conn.
Before joining Save the Children, Happ was a senior partner and founder of HP Management Decisions Ltd., a management consultancy, and has held a variety of corporate management positions at the senior vice president and general manager level with Wall Street data providers, service and software product companies.
He is also the co-founder and past chairman of NetHope, a U.S.-based consortium of 50 leading international relief, development and conservation nonprofits focused on information and communication technology and collaboration.
“I am looking forward to working in a university setting where I can apply my 40 years of management and technology experience to teach, advise, research and consult with the next generation of IT leaders,” Happ said.