Fall 2011 Projects
1. Monitoring and Evaluation in Mental Health Liberia Program (Carter Center)
Advisor: Ellen Zegura
Customer: Ellen Zegura and Carter Center
Problem: The country of Liberia in western Africa has been ravaged by a civil war that ended in 2003 and destroyed many of the institutions and infrastructure of the country. The Carter Center has been involved in post-conflict rebuilding efforts in Liberia, at the invitation of the Liberian government. Starting in Spring 2010, the Carter Center launched a new five-year effort focused on Mental Health. In 2010, Liberia had just one psychiatrist in the entire country, and only three psychiatric nurses. The Mental Health Liberia project is an ambitious effort to build health provider capacity in the mental health area, reduce stigma associated with mental health conditions, and build support for family caregivers.
This summer, Georgia Tech put in place a tool to support monitoring and evaluation of the mental health program, with an emphasis on tracking patient improvement. This will be achieved with a Patient Encounter Form, filled out by the clinician for each patient visit. This project involves developing the next phase of necessary technologies for retrieving forms from each clinician laptop, storing them in a central database, processing them to correlate forms for the same patient, and supporting queries for data.
2. Refining an Integrated Management Information System for Agro-Dealer Development and Poverty Reduction in CARE Zambia
Advisor: Ellen Zegura (GT)
Problem: CARE is a leading humanitarian organization working in over 70 countries around the world to fight global poverty and social injustice. Our organization focuses on many issues but much of our work takes place in rural households and communities, working with farmers and others who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. CARE opened its doors in Zambia in 1992 in response to a severe drought that was affecting the country. We now work across Zambia to improve the productivity and profitability of agriculture for the poor while also improving health care.
Since 2009, CARE Zambia has been developing a network of rural shops (Agro-dealers) capable of helping poor rural farmers to overcome one of the greatest constraints to improving their productivity and, therefore, their overall wellbeing and incomes. The initiative has led to the establishment of over 600 shops to date, benefitting nearly 100,000 rural farmers – over 500,000 people. CARE sees incredible potential to take this model to scale (there are over 800,000 poor rural farmers in Zambia) and has been collaborating with Georgia Tech to develop an integrated information management system to support this. With a broad and growing network of highly geographically distant sales outlets, CARE needs a set of simple tools to enable the organization to monitor quality and performance across the network. CARE’s work Georgia Tech to date has led to the development of an online platform that links GIS data with performance metrics gathered from across the network on a routine basis. This work demonstrates proof of concept but there are substantial improvements to be made for it to truly meet CARE’s needs. Specifically, data visualization work would help to unlock the power of the information, programming to enable the automation of more complex analyses – those looking across the network against multiple variables, GUI enhancements and exploration of options for data collection via mobile or smart phones or tablet computers are all needed enhancements.
The collaboration with a team of C4G students in the fall of 2011 is expected to lead to the delivery of a fully functioning information management system that enables CARE to more efficiently collect, analyze, present and apply data from various streams in order to improve program decision making and poverty reduction.
3. Homeless Information Support for Atlanta Union Mission
Advisor: Ellen Zegura
Customer: Tommy Barr (AUM)
Problem: The Atlanta Union Mission is a non-profit agency in Atlanta that provides shelter and other services to the homeless. AUM uses the Pathways Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) to track patients, as do all other Georgia agencies that receive federal funding. AUM desires to augment what Pathways provides to better meet their needs for information.
The Atlanta Mission partially relies on grants and private donations to supports its efforts. Data collected from all the Atlanta Mission program and shelter locations is pulled together as the source to generate statistical metrics to show what was accomplished. The current method is laborious and time consuming. These metrics are generated monthly and on demand. The Atlanta Mission is currently building a central database and tracking system to streamline and automate this process. Part of this project involves generating custom forms and statistical reports from the central database.
The project involves creating a simple interface that would display forms and reports and allow for these to be printed. The database engine is Microsoft SQL Server Express 2008. The interface is being developed using Microsoft Visual Basic Express 2010. The forms and reporting tool would have to be able to remotely access an SQL database server but is not mandatory to be implemented in Visual Basic Express 2010. It should be able to be called from the Visual Basic Express interface under development but could be an independent application.
Additional information about the Atlanta Mission can be found at www.atlantamission.org
4. Elections, Election Monitoring and Social Media
Advisor: Ellen Zegura
Customer: Michael Best, Thomas Smyth (Georgia Tech)
Problem: Newly democratic countries face significant challenges as they enact elections for leadership. Election monitoring is an important component of achieving free and fair elections. Election monitoring involves the observation of elections by a neutral third-party to detect incidents of fraud or other barriers to secrete and free voting. The Carter Center alone has monitored 83 elections in 34 countries over more than 20 years, using systematic surveys and observation of poll opening, voting and vote counting.
Technology has the potential to improve official election monitoring through the creation of tools to run on handheld devices to replace previous paper processes. Electronic collection of monitoring data can enable real-time processing and may improve the accuracy of the information. Georgia Tech has been involved in designing solutions to monitor elections using handheld devices. In another part of the technology spectrum, social media provides a tool to potentially improve monitoring and access to information by involving citizens in monitoring and enabling channels for official communication. Georgia Tech has also been involved in building tools to collect and analyze social media data before, during and after elections.
This project will be loosely coordinated with work going on in Mike Best’s class and in the e-democracy VIP project. Potential areas of work include analysis and visualization of data collected during the recent Nigeria election; preparation, staffing and post-election analysis for the upcoming Liberia election; tool building in advance of the Kenya 2012 election. Exact details will be worked out as the team in formed.
5. Autism Transition Handbook – Wiki Multi-state Expansion and Enhancements
Advisor: Jim Foley
Client Contact: Martha Lindsay, Vice President, Product Development, Devereux, 444 Devereux Drive, Villanova, PA 19085 610-542-3038 firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Client: Devereux is a leading nonprofit behavioral health organization that supports many of the most underserved and vulnerable members of our communities. Founded in 1912 by Helena Devereux, we operate a comprehensive national network of clinical, therapeutic, educational and employment programs and services that positively impact the lives of tens of thousands of individuals and families every year. We also focus on research-based prevention initiatives that help children and adolescents develop resilience and strong emotional and social health. We help empower children and adults with intellectual, emotional, developmental, and behavioral challenges to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives.
Project Description: Making the transition from school to work life is challenging for any 21 year old adult. For adults with autism spectrum disorders and their families, this transition is particularly difficult because federally mandated educational supports stop when the child turns 21. Families are largely left on their own to find secondary education, housing, recreation, health care, and employment opportunities for their adult children. Unfortunately, most adults on the spectrum face severe handicaps restricting their ability to make their own way in life, such as an inability to communicate and interact with others. Robert MacNeil of PBS News Hour describe this lack of services for adults on the spectrum as a “black hole” because there are so few services available, and as a result many adults on the spectrum end up living at home with nothing to do. As one sibling whose brother has autism describes it, “The future has always been scary since I was little. You know, who’s – who’s going to take care of Zach? Am I going to take care of Zach? Is Zach going to move in with me and my family? You know, these are all questions with no answers.”
Autism has seen a 600% increase over the past two decades according to the Autism Society of America. According to the CDC, the prevalence is now 1 in 110 births and 1 in 70 males.
The Autism Society estimates that the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism ranges from $3.5 to $5 million. With autism now a national health care crisis, families are searching for quality information to help them prepare their child for the transition to adulthood.
Autism Transition Handbook:
With a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Autism Transition Handbook wiki (www.autismhandbook.org) was launched in May 2010 to provide Pennsylvania families with the most current and comprehensive information on the transition to adulthood for individuals with autism. In July 2011, we received a grant from the Delaware Department of Education to expand the site to Delaware, and expect to expand into other states, including Georgia. A wiki is a perfect format as it allows for community collaboration and is easily updated as new information/services become available. Much of the information is state specific so user friendly navigation is critical. The site has received great interest, and is included on disability.gov, autism advocacy agencies and state sites.
Development of State Subdomains
The goal of this project is to redesign the site to allow for multiple state “subdomains” that include both state-specific and general information. The general information would be shared across all domains. Automatic sharing is critical as it would be cumbersome to require the editor to change multiple pages of the same information (such as new Medicaid rates). There are some extensions for Mediawiki that may facilitate sharing general content across subdomains such as Push and Wikisync or templating. These would need to be explored to determine the best one, (one that does not require the page editor to write in html). Once a method has been determined, a working prototype would be developed for three states (Pennsylvania, Georgia and Delaware) as well as a general top level, global domain that does not include state specific information. Subdomains need to be designed so it is immediately apparent to users who land on a particular state subdomain, they have the option to choose another state, if that is where their interest lies.
Media streaming and Vignettes
In addition, there are two other functions we would like added to the site: the ability to stream video (lecture captured, in particular) and the addition of “vignettes” boxes where a parent tells a story through words, video or voice about their experience with a particular service or support.
The Hardware/Software Environment:
This is a web-based project, and the content management system used is Mediawiki, the calendar is Google’s Calendar plug in and video hosting is provided by Kaltura. Students should also be familiar with Apache, and PHP. Possible avenues to consider for sharing resources across multiple domains can be found at http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Manual:Wiki_family, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Template_messages
The AutismHandbook wiki site is on a third party server managed by Jersey Cow, a software developer that designed the original site for Devereux. Work would be done in collaboration with Jersey Cow. http://jerseycow.com/mediaSite/default.asp#/home
6. Equipment Loan System
Advisor: Jim Foley
Client: The ALS Association Georgia Chapter
Client Contact: Ms. Candace Wood, Executive Director, Candace@alsaga.org, 404-636-9909.
About the Client: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neuro-degenerative disease that slowly robs the body of its ability to walk, speak, swallow and eventually breathe. Although the cause of ALS is not completely understood, most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70, with an average age of 55. ALS patients typically live two to five years after diagnosis. There is no cure for ALS.
The ALS Association is the only nationally affiliated not-for-profit health organization solely dedicated to the fight against ALS. Since its founding in 1988, the ALS Association of Georgia has empowered ALS patients and their families by providing critical services and a reliable source of information.
Project Description: The Chapter has a “lending library” of equipment for use by ALS patients – there are two types of equipment Durable Medical Equipment: wheelchairs, hospital beds, lifts, Bi-Pap machines, walkers, scooters and shower benches and other bathroom equipment. Augmentative Technology equipment runs from simple buttons that can be placed on a pillow to change a TV channel, to expensive computer based programs that can speak for patients when they lose their speech. Recently iPads are replacing laptops and more complicated programs.
An equipment data base exists, DME equipment is ordered through the Patient Services Coordinator and the Augmentative Technology is maintained by Steven Parker, Director of the Chapter’s Assistive Technology Program. ALS patients needing equipment contact the organization to determine availability and to arrange for pickup at the ALS office in Atlanta, or for delivery to the patient’s home. Many of the larger more complicated pieces also require some education Equipment returns are handled in a similar way. Newly-purchased or donated equipment is added to the data base, which also has a record of needed repairs.
The main project goal is to create a web based portal for patients to request/reserve equipment (based on availability), schedule a time to pick it up or have it delivered, and schedule a pick-up or drop-off for items ready to be returned.
There will be a need for various reports and queries, such as lists of available equipment, lists of equipment needing repair, pick-ups and deliveries scheduled for this week. It may also be necessary to add fields to the data base in support of the project.
The Hardware/Software Environment: The current database uses DonorPro, a non-profit software developed by Towercare. This system has been customized by Towercare for the ALS Association nationally and is being used by 30 chapters throughout the US.
Per TowerCare “The system runs on Windows 2007; You can easily export data from DonorPro into Excel spreadsheets and comma delimited (CSV) files which you can then import into other applications. DonorPro is an ASP (Application Service Provider) implementation, we host the DonorPro application and database on our servers in our Class A Datacenter. We take care of maintaining the servers, of backing up your data, of providing disaster recovery, and much more. You just need to provide the workstations (MAC’s or PC’s) that you’ll use to access DonorPro and you need to make sure you have an internet connection.
7. Social Network Analysis
Advisor: Jim Foley
Client: Elizabeth’s Canvas http://www.elizabethscanvas.org/
Client Contact: John-David Perry, Founder (email@example.com)
About the Client: Elizabeth’s Canvas is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that supplies cancer patients and survivors with the creative resources they need to better cope with their symptoms and live empowered lives. Elizabeth’s Canvas intent is to show that cancer might attack the physical body, but it will never erase the creative spirit. Unlike most cancer related non-profits EC is a service provider. Our goal is not to raise money for cancer research, but to provide cancer patients and survivors with the tools they need to live a life with less pain and anxiety.
Currently we design and run art, photography, and music classes in NYC and LA, and we also fund existing art programs in hospitals and therapy centers across the country. For example, we are speaking with Kaiser to design an art program for the oncology department.
In addition to our classes, we collect and distribute artwork that has been influenced by cancer on our online gallery. Patients, survivors, and their loved can posts photos of their artwork and then website users can by posters, framed prints, or greeting cards that include the art. The money we make through online art sales helps fund our art classes. In general for every print sold, one cancer patients is able to take a free class.
Project Description: EC is a very young organization and thus must identify new ways of connecting with potential donors, volunteers and supporters to ensure its continued growth and future success. Unfortunately, like most young non-profit and for-profit organizations, EC lacks an established network of financial and promotional support. To overcome this innate obstacle, EC must find an efficient way to analyze and utilize existing social networks. The goal of this project will be to identify, analyze, and score blogs/tweets so that Elizabeth’s Canvas can effectively connect with ideal donors and advocates; a task requiring a unique combination of machine learning, and social media and marketing expertise.
To analyze a social network, individual social network entities, in this case bloggers or twitter handles, must be identified, analyzed, and scored based on their relevance to the user’s search criteria. EC will work with the team to define the ideal characteristics of a blog/tweet and will also provide the team with a “training set” of blogs and twitter accounts that can be used to facilitate the development of the learning algorithm.
The criteria furnished to the aforementioned algorithm will be restricted to a pre-determined set of characteristics, but should remain flexible enough to enable EC to score projects by selecting different subsets of the criteria, and by changing the importance of each criterion.
Once the bloggers or twitter handles are identified, the algorithm must further analyze and score the blog in order to define its relevancy EC. The analysis of an individual blog will report the relative strengths of the blog as they relate to the search criteria. For example, if EC is focused on identifying blogs that discuss philanthropy, cancer, and art the ideal blog might be one that contains a lot of articles about cancer and volunteering, and only a few articles about a local museum. Thus its final analysis might be detailed as follows: 30% cancer, 40% philanthropy, 20% art, 10% misc. The scoring of a blog will take multiple factors into account; the analysis of the blog, the number of followers, the size of the network the blog is connected to, etc. How the different attributes interact with one another to produce the final score is flexible based on the team’s expertise and vision.
By the end of the project, the team should be able to analyze a blogger or twitter handle and categorize what the blogger or twitter handle discusses. Based on this analysis the team should then be able to score the blog or tweet, where the score represents the importance of the blog or tweet based on the user’s search criteria. This scoring and subsequent ranking of the blogs and tweets will be used by EC to guide its social network outreach strategy.
8. G-Power Web Site Overhaul
Advisor: Jim Foley
Client Contact: Bev Jones, Director of Communications & Business Affairs, 404-475-6061, firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Client: The mission of the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (G-CAPP) is to eliminate teen pregnancy in Georgia. A statewide organization, G-CAPP is the only organization in Georgia solely dedicated to ending teen pregnancy. We connect individuals, parents, youth organizations, and others that may be working in isolation and provide them with a variety of support services specific to community need. Since its founding in 1995 (when Georgia had the highest teen birth rate in the country) the state has seen a 30% decrease in teen birth rates. G-CAPP partners with youth serving organizations to develop more effective teen pregnancy prevention strategies; replicates proven programs that work; provides customized prevention trainings; and advocates for policies and programs that help give teens the knowledge and motivation they need to make good, healthy choices. Bottom line, G-CAPP’s work helps young people avoid risky sexual behavior that leads to teen parenthood.
Project Description: G-CAPP seeks assistance of Georgia Tech students to repurpose what was formerly a micro-donations fundraising site to an innovative, educational portal, ultimately creating an online prevention-focused learning community for all G-CAPP audiences. G-power should be an extension of G-CAPP’s main website site (gcapp.org). Gpower will assist G-CAPP in connecting its many audiences through one central hub.
In 2008, G-CAPP created gPower a fundraising website for micro-donations (minimum of $15) and community building. The goal was to launch a fundraising campaign that would build a virtual community of 20,000 donors giving a minimal amount of $15 through 2009. The site remains live but has been virtually dormant. G-CAPP now wishes to repurpose the site to minimize its emphasis on fundraising and instead offer an informational, community mobilization destination for parents, youth, professionals in the field, policy makers, and others to freely access a diverse set of tools and resources such as webinars, tool kits, blogs, message boards, videos, connections to other social media, community events listings and registration, newsletter subscriptions, program reports, research and more. The site will help G-CAPP win champions in the cause, help g-Capp expand its database, and provide a community of support for those committed to preventing teen pregnancy. G-CAPP would like to see tabs and sections for the following: Home, About G-CAPP, Youth, Parents, Professionals, Policy Makers, & Donors. Would also like to see the following featured prominently on the home page as well: Why Give, Power the Grid, Gpower Talk, Gpower News.
While we are de-emphasizing the site as a fundraising site we still want it to have fundraising capability for those so inclined to give. However, we don’t want giving $ to be a requirement to “powering the grid” with a message or video as it is now. Needs to be a choice and the “buy this block” language should be done away with altogether. Perhaps it should be something like “power this grid” instead. That said: capturing names and contact, demographics info will be critical in that we would like to bring them into the fold and cultivate as potential donors.
The Hardware/Software Environment:
PHP – PHP is a widely-used general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for Web development and can be embedded into HTML.
Document Information – XHTML Transitional
The website claims XHTML Transitional status. XHTML 1.0 Transitional is the same as HTML 4.01 Transitional, but follows XML syntax rules. It supports everything found in XHTML 1.0 Strict, but also permits the use of a number of elements and attributes that are judged presentational, in order to ease the transition from HTML 3.2 and earlier. These include center, u, strike, and applet.
9. Immediate video feedback to improve skills training of wheelchair users
Advisor: Jim Foley
Client: Wheeled Mobility Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (part of GT’s CATEA – Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access), and the Shepherd Center at Piedmont Hospital
Client Web Sites:
Jennith Bernstein, MSPT, ATP, Seating and Mobility Clinic, Shepherd Center, 2020 Peachtree Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30309 Direct Line: 404-350-7516 Jennith_Bernstein@Shepherd.org
Stephen Sprigle, PhD, PT, Professor Applied Physiology, Bioengineering & Industrial Design, Georgia Institute of Technology, 490 10th St., NW, Atlanta, GA 30332-0156 404-385-4302 email@example.com
About the Client: The Rehab Engineering and Applied Research (REAR) Lab undertakes applied research and development targeting the increased health and function of persons with disabilities. Specific areas of interest include: wheeled mobility and seating, pressure ulcer prevention and treatment; design of diagnostic tissue interrogation devices; and design of assistive technologies.
Shepherd Center is one of the top rehabilitation hospitals in the nation, specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury or brain injury.
Project Description: The overall objective of this research project is to develop a system that provides immediate video feedback to wheelchair users learning new skills. The benefits of using video feedback in motor skill learning have been widely documented, particularly for motor skill acquisition in athletics. However, despite its increasing affordability, accessibility and portability, video remains underutilized in rehabilitation settings. Reasons for this underutilization are the lack of information about the efficacy of the technology and guidance for using the technology and ease of use.
In an effort to overcome these barriers, this project will develop a system capable of collecting video during the rehabilitation of wheelchair users. Wheelchair users must learn many new skills. Basic wheelchair skills such as propulsion or transfers as well as advanced skills such as performing a wheelie would benefit from easy to use technology. A tablet equipped with a camera offers an excellent platform for such a system. The tablet can house short video clips of ‘experts’ performing activities which serve as a useful training tool. Then, video can be captured as patients perform different activities, and the video can serve as immediate feedback. It might also be possible to offer a side-by-side comparison of the expert and trainee, either as video or still shots.
The Hardware/Software Environment: In order for a rehabilitation video feedback system to be useful at the Shepherd Center, commercial hardware must be used and the overall performance and user interface must meet the needs of therapists in a busy clinic environment. The hardware should be selected in conjunction with the end users, but the existing tablet technology appears to be able to meet the needs of the project.
The mobility RERC will supply needed hardware and software.
10. IT Education Opportunities in Liberia
Client:James Clarke, Carter Center Libera
Problem: Liberia has limited opportunities for post-secondary education beyond the formal university setting. Yet there are Liberians with interest in improving their skills to qualify for better jobs but cannot afford the time or cost of university education. One such individual is James Clarke, a driver for the Carter Center in Liberia. James has one year of university education in electronics; he has a laptop and uses facebook with some regularity; he has Internet access at work and at home using an EDGE device; he is highly motivated.
This project involves developing education modules suitable for the Liberia context, where power is limited, students also work full-time, Internet is available but spotty, and student preparation is varied. To narrow the scope, the initial focus will be on skills needed to install, troubleshoot, and maintain networks. This is consistent with an expected increase in the need for workers with these skills as Internet access into the country moves from satellite to undersea fiber optic cable.
As a resource, the project team is encouraged to draw upon the iLab Liberia www.ilabliberia.com. They are eager to partner with us.