There are a wide range of disciplinary areas in which technology efforts for developing regions could be focused. In particular, drawing on the strengths of several departments at Princeton, we see emphasis on the following areas.
Information Technology for Developing Regions: Addressing the digital divide via computing and communication solutions with particular attributes for populations in sparsely settled areas with little available infrastructure. This requires both hardware and software research. On the hardware side, the goal is building specific computing devices that are low-cost, low-energy, highly reliable, and autonomously maintainable. On the software side, we envision research towards building software and applications geared to the needs of such communities. For example, one could study means of implementing effective low-cost distance learning (since many developing regions have serious teacher shortages). Another example is tele-medicine.
Environmental Analysis: Perhaps the top crisis in the developing world is a very fundamental one: clean, safe drinking water. Research efforts aimed toward this could include: models for predicting groundwater contamination, effective low-cost purification systems, sensor networks for monitoring water quality and providing data to rural residents.
Medical Applications and Drug Delivery: Current work in Electrical Engineering and Chemical Engineering includes efforts geared at cheap medical sensors and at novel means of inexpensive drug delivery. Such efforts have clear TDR implications.
Technology and Public Policy Issues: For some difficult problems in the developing world, the difficulties are not solely technical. Rather they can sometimes stem from the challenges of applying new technology solutions that require governmental or public policy support. Thus an important aspect of the center will be thrusts that allow and encourage center members to focus on the overlap of technology with public policy.