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Telecommunication for Development


The T4D project has an over-arching goal to develop technology that contributes to socio-economic development through direct or indirect interventions.  To effect this goal, the individual work packages have sub-goals as listed below.


The goal of this work package is to support community service through innovative use of telecommunications.  Specific goals are listed below:

  1. Co-design of appropriate cloudlet-based community services
  2. Building on theory around gamification, persuasive technologies, and other techniques for community education on mobile devices
  3. Developing theory and artefacts that support grassroots and community-based content creation
  4. Understanding design ramifications around mobile-first usage
  5. Deeping our understanding of braided communications


The goal of this work package is to focus on developing dynamic spectrum access techniques which are able to effectively use unused portions of the electromagnetic spectrum licensed for use on a secondary user basis. The project will begin in the TV white space band but it may be possible to expand to other spectral bands such as GSM and LTE, should the regulator be open to this approach. This would provide opportunities to take advantage of the ubiquity of mobile handsets and provide localised low-cost voice/data/messaging services on a licence-free or light licensing basis in areas where large amounts of the GSM/UMTS spectrum lie fallow.

Specific goals are:

  1. Integrate TV White Space networking with mesh networking technology (e.g. new channel allocation methods, new link metrics which take into account spectrum availability)
  2. Create hybrid WiFi / TV White Space radios which make use of the best performing link to route packets
  3. Investigate the combination of collaborative spectrum scanning and geo-location spectrum databases to make smarter channel allocation decisions.
  4. Develop a software-defined-radio framework of SDR modules to allow a researcher to build a suite of protocols such as 802.22 and 802.11af
  5. Develop a TV white space outdoor test bed in Cape Town for carrying out experiments in TV white space and other bands for demonstrating the capabilities of dynamic spectrum access technologies.
  6. Expand the prototypes and technology to other bands such as LTE and UMTS.


The goal of this work package is to investigate the development of educational technology tools specifically in support of developmental objectives, and with an emphasis on design for low-resource environments.  While conventional wisdom is to support learning by pupils, this project will also seek to support the teacher, whose key role in the learning process has been highlighted by recent studies.  Specifically, the work package includes goals to:

  1. Design tools to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of educators (e.g., orchestration tools);
  2. Investigate appropriate use of mobile tools to support the needs of learners in low-resource environments (e.g., electronic textbooks);
  3. Develop frameworks and design patterns for the creation and dissemination of CAI tools in low-resource environments (e.g., simulation environments); and
  4. Enhance learning management systems to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of educators (e.g., through automation).

The general goal of all these sub-projects is to develop new approaches to the construction and use of educational technology that are more appropriate to low-resource environments.


The objective of this work package is to derive, design and develop system(s) that will work in the South African context (e.g., SMS prices are much higher, but data communication systems are common). The challenge will be to deliver system(s) that will run on the most common types of phones (not high-end smartphones).

This project sets out to provide some of the answers to what happens, what can happen and what can be designed for when poor, marginalized and underdeveloped communities become members of the interconnected digital world.