I’m very excited to announce that my colleagues and I had a paper accepted to ACM DEV 2015, “a premier venue to present original and innovative work on the applications, technologies, architectures, and protocols for computing in developing regions.” We used the paper to put forward a vision of resilient local infrastructures that are coordinated via software and designed using principles of software engineering – but those principles are not applied to software per sé. It’s actually motivated as much by the future of developing regions as it is by the situation in developing regions.
Paper Abstract: New forms of infrastructure are needed in a world characterized by the burdens of global climate change, a growing population, increasing socio-technical complexity, and natural and human stressors to our human systems. Enabling communities to transition to a more resilient configuration of infrastructures is crucial for establishing a distributed portfolio of processes and systems by which human needs may be met. This paper proposes a potential way to increase infrastructure resilience by supporting the creation of alternative, decentralized infrastructures (ADIs) composed of small-scale, heterogeneous systems and processes. We see two possible roles for these ADIs: first, they could be integrated with existing infrastructures in the industrialized world, thereby providing some redundancy during times of strain on larger centralized systems; and second, they could help developing communities leapfrog centralized and more capital intensive conventional infrastructure. We present a model for how ADI systems may be built, based on principles from software engineering. Finally, we identify some challenges that go beyond technical implementation details in the instantiation of ADIs, and offer some thoughts on how to address them.
This paper was published by invitation at the 2015 Annual Symposium on Computing for Development