Technology for Social Good

Ellen Zegura
Ellen Zegura
Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain, Faculty Co-Executive Director
Professor of Computer Science, College of Computing

Can you describe this big idea?

Technology for Social Good refers to the use of technology – broadly engineering, applied science and computing-based artifacts, algorithm and techniques – towards addressing pressing social problems. Technology is rarely, if ever, “the” solution, but instead works in concert with non-technology based approaches.

How is this big idea used in your work in relation to sustainable communities?

Since 2008 I have been involved in teaching Computing for Social Good, an undergraduate and MS-level class where students work in teams on problems that come from external partners. Several of these projects have formed the basis for research efforts, largely around understanding how the technologies play out in long-term use. For example, a multi-year deployment of software used by mental health clinicians in Liberia resulted in a conference paper highlighting the role of pride in sustaining software use despite high barriers. Creating and maintaining sustainable communities lies clearly in the “social good” sphere, especially when those communities are traditionally underserved. Exploring the role for technology in sustainable communities could lead to efforts in environmental sensors, crowd-sourced reporting of infrastructure in need of repair, digital resource mapping, etc.

Learn more:

Zegura, “Achieving and Assessing Service in Computing Service Learning: Lessons from Computing for Good,” International Journal on Service Learning in Engineering, Special Edition, Fall 2014.

Articles on technology for social good in Huffington Post

Georgia Tech’s Health and Humanitarian Logistics Center