A research proposal, by Melissa Densmore of the University of Cape Town and Naveen Bagalkot, of the Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design and Technology, has been named as one of the winners of this year's Google Award for a Inclusion Research (AIR) program.
The proposal,"Collectively Reimagining Chatbots and Voice-based automation for Content Creation tools from the “Margins” in South Africa and India," emerged from an earlier collaboration by the two academics on the CoLRN project (A community-based vision for local resilient networks.) that was funded by the International Telecommunications Union last year, as well as work Densmore is conducting with the research unit Fraunhofer AICOS in Portugal on the design of chatbots to support parenting.
Their work is driven by the objective to make the Internet more meaningful by working with communities to co-design and co-deploy knowledge infrastructure (in the form of community wireless networks and local content services) that will facilitate local and global digital participation. Situated in two specific sites - one in South Africa, and another in India - it explores the co-design and deployment of software and hardware tools to enable local communities to collect, curate, create and share locally relevant and meaningful content, in languages and forms that make sense to them.
Launched in 2020, the Award for AIR Program is an ongoing effort to support innovative research and professors working to create positive societal impact.