Summer Series: Smart Initiatives Bridging Gaps in Underserved Communities, with Lara Allen and Ashok Das (Royal Academy of Engineering)

The Smart Community Podcast

By Zoe Eather

Summer Series: Smart Initiatives Bridging Gaps in Underserved Communities, with Lara Allen and Ashok Das (Royal Academy of Engineering)

Sunday, 31 January

Hi #smartcommunity friends! We are finishing up our summer series with an extra special episode, before we shift back into regular content again. In this episode I’m excited to share a brilliant conversation I had with Lara Allen and Ashok Das.
Lara and Ashok are event chairs for the upcoming Royal Academy of Engineering’s Frontiers event on Smart communities, which focus on interdisciplinary research to address global development challenges. This event will focus on low-tech solutions and innovations, as well as bottom-up, context specific approaches that can be used to improve lives of the most underserved, mainly rural, communities in developing countries. The theme will also touch on the unintended consequences of some of those solutions in communities. I'm excited to be involved in this event, delivering the key note speech. You can www.raeng.org.uk/frontiers for more information on future opportunities. Now back to Lara and Ashok.
Lara is the CEO of the Centre for Global Equality, a Cambridge-based civil society organisation that enables the evolution of innovative solutions to global challenges through inclusive innovation. She is also an Affiliated lecturer in Inclusive Innovation at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, University of Cambridge.
Ashok is the Founder and CEO of SunMoksha, a clean technologies company working on the socioeconomic development of rural communities. He has over 25 years of experience in semiconductor equipment (Bay Area, USA) and clean technologies (Bangalore, India), with a decade in developing and implementing state-of-the-art solutions for microgrids and irrigation to develop smart villages
In this episode Lara and Ashok tell us about their backgrounds in academics and engineering respectively, and their shared passion for bridging divides and closing gaps in rural and underserved communities. Lara explains what inclusive innovation and appropriate technology are and why they matter for empowerment in Smart Communities, and Ashok tells us about some of the challenges he faced in creating Smart Communities in rural India.
We talk about why it’s important to focus on Rural and Underserved Communities and the power of long term interventions that take more than one generation to see results, as well as the role of entrepreneurship in research for international development.
Lara, Ashok and I discuss why inter-disciplinary research is important in this area of smart communities and the biggest mistakes that engineers often make when approaching these projects. We finish our chat discussing advice for young professionals wanting to get into this space. As always, we hope you enjoyed listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it.
Find the full show notes at: www.mysmart.community
Find out more about the Royal Academy of Engineering Frontiers conference and connect with Lara and Ashok via the website www.raeng.org.uk/frontiers
Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community
Connect with My Smart Community via LinkedIn or Twitter and watch on YouTube
The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Perk Digital.
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