Advisory Board

Professor Tapan S. Parikh

The MIT Technology Review article Tapan Parikh: Developing simple, powerful mobile tools for developing economies said

When fishermen from the Indian state of Kerala are done fishing each day, they have to decide which of an array of ports they should sail for in order to sell their catch. Traditionally, the fishermen have made the decision at random — or, to put it more charitably, by instinct.
 
Then they got mobile phones. That allowed them to call each port and discover where different fishes were poorly stocked, and therefore where they would be likely to get the best price for their goods. That helped the fishermen reap a profit, but it also meant that instead of one port’s being stuck with more fish than could be sold while other ports ran short, there was a better chance that supply would be closer to demand at all the ports. The fishermen became more productive, markets became more efficient, and the Keralan economy as a whole got stronger.
 
This story demonstrates an easily forgotten idea: relatively simple improvements in information and communication technologies can have a dramatic effect on the way businesses and markets work. That idea is central to the work of Tapan Parikh, a doctoral student in computer science and the founder of a company called Ekgaon Technologies. Parikh has created information systems tailored for small-business people in the developing world — systems with the mobile phone, rather than the PC, at their core.
 
His goal is to make it easier for these business owners to manage their own operations in an efficient and transparent way, and to build connections both with established financial institutions and with consumers in the developed world. This will help them — they’ll be able to get money to expand their operations and, ideally, find better prices for what they sell — and it should be a boon to development as well.

Tapan S. Parikh, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley. He also has an affiliate appointment in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Washington. He was awarded MIT’s TR35 Humanitarian of the Year. He is Associate Editor, Information Technologies and International Development (ITID).
 
His research focuses on human-computer interaction and systems engineering, with an emphasis on developing applications that have a deep socio-economic impact. Combining novel technical approaches with domain and user understanding, his goal is to understand important emerging models of human organization and find ways for technology to facilitate their growth and development.
 
His focus areas are: Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Mobile Computing, Programming Languages, Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICTD), Information Systems for Microfinance, Smallholder Agriculture, and Global Health.
 
Tapan authored Using Mobile Phones for Secure, Distributed Document Processing in the Developing World and Mobile Phones may be the Right Devices for Supporting Developing World Accessibility, but is the WWW the Right Service Delivery Model?, and coauthored Understanding and Designing for Intermediated Information Tasks in India, e-IMCI: Improving Pediatric Health Care in Low-Income Countries, A Survey of Information Systems Reaching Small Producers in Global Agricultural Value Chains, Design Studies for a Financial Management System for Micro-credit Groups in Rural India, Deploying a Medical Record System in Rural Rwanda, and XML-based Data Standards for Microfinance Information Exchange.
 
Tapan earned his B.Sc. in Molecular Modeling (with Honors) at Brown University with the thesis Cation Binding Selectivity of EF-Hand Sites: Perturbation Dynamics of Galactose Binding Protein in 1996. He earned his M.S. in Computer Science at the University of Washington with the thesis WIL: A Compiler Intermediate Language with Explicit Support for Representations in 1999. He earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Washington in 2007 with the dissertation Designing an Architecture for Delivering Mobile Information Services to the Rural Developing World.
 
Watch Social Entrepreneur and Innovator Professor Tapan Parikh.