About the Center for Technology in Developing Regions
Princeton’s Center for Technology in Developing Regions catalyses engineering and policy efforts aimed at researching, developing, and deploying technologies with societal impact, particularly in developing regions both internationally and within the United States.
Over recent decades, advancing technology has been at the forefront of many sweeping changes in how we live our lives. The technology revolution touching North American, Europe, and elsewhere has, however, left huge regions of the earth untouched. Indeed even within first-world nations, sparsely populated and poorer demographic segments are left behind. While some technology, such as cellular telephony, has seen deep market penetration in third-world countries, other technology, such as high-speed data networking requires more infrastructure support and has influenced many fewer lives. Furthermore, significant societal problems in developing regions—such as widespread access to education, clean water, and medical attention—are problems in which technology/scientific approaches can offer help, but thus far have not gained the attentions of mainstream technology developers.
It is natural at first to assume that simply shipping technology donations to countries in need might be a solution. But in reality, most of the technology we develop commercially is aimed narrowly at problems and solutions from a first-world perspective. For example, teleconferencing software developed for companies in industrialized nations cannot be retrofitted into distance learning software for developing regions because of its massive infrastructure and network bandwidth expectations. An exciting challenge, both now and for the next decades, is to begin focusing on technology solutions that are designed to work for developing regions.
Based on either population headcounts or on total consumer dollars, the impact of technology aimed at developing regions could be huge. Princeton is uniquely able to contribute to this technology focus, because of its history of research in the public service crossed with its excellent engineering school.
The philosophical foundations for our center are:
- Range of efforts spanning from advanced research through to real-world deployments
- Collaborative multi-disciplinary efforts spanning Engineering, Life Sciences and Social Sciences