UCT CS Research Document Archive

Developing locally relevant applications for rural South Afica: a telemedicine example

Chetty, Marshini (2005) Developing locally relevant applications for rural South Afica: a telemedicine example. MSc, Department of Computer Science, University of Cape Town.

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Within developing countries, there is a digital divide between rural and urban areas. In order to overcome this division, we need to provide locally relevant Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services to these areas. Traditional software development methodologies are not suitable for developing software for rural and underserviced areas because they cannot take into account the unique requirements and complexities of such areas. We set out to find the most appropriate way to engineer suitable software applications for rural communities. We developed a methodological framework for creating software applications for a rural community. We critically examined the restrictions that current South African telecommunications legislation places on software development for underserviced areas. Our socially aware computing framework for creating software applications uses principles from Action Research and Participatory Design as well as best practice guidelines; it helps us address all issues affecting the project success. The validity of our framework was demonstrated by using it to create Multi-modal Telemedicine Intercommunicator (MuTI). MuTI is a prototype system for remote health consultation for a rural community. It allowed for synchronous and asynchronous communications between a clinic in one village and a hospital in the neighbouring village, nearly 20 kilometers away, in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It used Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) combined with a store and forward approach for communication. MuTI was tested over a Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) network for several months.
Our socially aware framework proved to be appropriate for developing locally relevant applications for rural areas in South Africa. We found that MuTI was an improvement on the previous telemedicine solution in the target community. Using the approach also led to several insights into best practice for ICT development projects. We also found that VoIP and WiFi are relevant technologies for rural regions and that further telecommunication liberalisation in South Africa is required in order to spur technological developments in rural and underserviced areas.

EPrint Type:Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Keywords:action research, participatory design, rural, telemdicine
Subjects:J Computer Applications: J.3 LIFE AND MEDICAL SCIENCES
K Computing Milieux: K.4 COMPUTERS AND SOCIETY
ID Code:283
Deposited By:Chetty, Marshini
Deposited On:20 December 2005
Alternative Locations:http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~marshini