Nov 2, 2009
School of Engineering, Coimbatore
Amrita’s Coimbatore campus was the venue for the 2009 Technology for Social Welfare Workshop conducted last month.
The 1-day workshop brought together faculty and students of Social Work as well as professionals from NGOs in an effort to bridge the gap between engineers, scientists and social workers. 81 participants from 11 colleges in and around Coimbatore attended.
This year’s theme was Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). The workshop included various talks and hands-on sessions for participants. It was organized jointly by Amrita Departments of Computer Science, Information Technology and Social Work.
Dr. Vidya Balasubramanian of the CSE Dept explained how FOSS could be used for disaster management. This was supplemented with a hands-on session where participants learned how to use the Sahana open-source disaster management system.
A web based collaboration tool that enables managing aid and volunteers and addresses other disaster relief coordination needs such as finding missing people, tracking relief camp activity, so forth, Sahana was developed in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami.
“The content of the workshop was very useful, especially FOSS related information,” stated Dr. P. Selvamani, HOD, Dept of Social Work, Hindustan College of Arts and Sciences, Coimbatore.
“The workshop was very informative, different and useful,” added Elizabeth Gurung from CSI Bishop Appasamy College. “It was a great opportunity.”
SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences) is a popular IBM-owned program. ‘R’ is an open-source alternative that doesn’t entail hefty license fees. In another hands-on session, Ms. Uma from Amritapuri campus provided an overview about ‘R’.
Participants also attended a video conferencing session on Foss for the Society and as a Technology by Prof. Gopi Krishna S. Garge from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. “FOSS is a community movement that is gaining popularity because of its inclusive nature, suitability of use and easy adaptability,” Prof. Garge stated.
“FOSS is helpful in deploying technology for the benefit of social service recipients,” Prof. Gangadharan, Head, Department of Information Technology had remarked earlier, during the inaugural ceremony. Dr. J. Paranjothi Ramalingam, Head, Department of Social Work had welcomed the gathering. This inaugural session was presided over by Dr. M. P. Chandrasekharan, Dean, Amrita School of Engineering.