SDG Tech Lab

About Us

Overview
SDG Tech Lab was launched at Information Technology University (ITU) in collaboration with UnitedNations Development Program (UNDP) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). It was officiallyinaugurated on February 20th, 2019. The objective of the SDG Tech Lab is to conduct cutting edge research and development, and leverage Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), for the implementation and timely completion of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Pakistan.

About Us

History

Sustainable Development Goals and their Implementation in Pakistan


SDG Tech Lab at Information Technology University (ITU)
In September 2015, national governments across the world adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This global “plan of action for people, planet and prosperity” is anchored on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the agenda’s monitoring framework that captures universal aspirations across three dimensions of sustainable development:
  1. economic
  2. social
  3. environmental
There are 169 targets associated with the 17 SDGs which include ending all forms of poverty, universal provision of health and education, sustained and equitable growth and creating sustainable cities etc. The Government of Pakistan was one of the earliest adopters of the SDGs Agenda and unanimously approved the 17 Goals in the National Assembly in February 2016. To support localizing the universal 2030 SDGs Agenda in the context of Pakistan and creating an enabling environment for its implementation, the UNDP launched Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support for SDGs (MAPS). SDG Units were created at the Federal and Provincial levels to align plans, policies and resource allocation to the SDGs agenda to:
  1. Align the plans, policies and resource allocation to the SDGs agenda.
  2. Strengthen the monitoring and reporting of SDGs
  3. Finance flows increasingly aligned to the SDGs agenda
  4. Apply Innovative approaches to accelerate progress on priority SDGs

MOU between ITU and UNDP and the Idea of SDG Tech Lab


Outside SDG Tech Lab at Information Technology University (ITU)
In order to support the implementation of the fourth output of the MAPS project (i.e. innovative approaches applied to accelerate progress on priority SDGs), the UNDP signed an MOU with the Information Technology University (ITU) in Lahore. The main objective of this collaboration is to develop and test innovative ideas and tools that could leverage technology in the implementation of SDGs and undertake research on the use of Information and Communication Technologies in this regard. This MOU sowed the seeds for the creation of the SDG Tech Lab, which aims atusing Informationand Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the implementation of SDGs in Pakistan. The Lab usestechnology based solutions to solve various socio-economic problems in Pakistan, to facilitate the timely achievement of the SDGs.

Information Technology University (ITU)


Information Technology University (ITU) Lahore, a public sector university of the Government of Punjab, was established in 2012 in order to advance scholarship and innovation in the areas of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), Engineering,Business, Humanities and Social Sciences. ITU focuses on cross-disciplinary applied research, cultivation of an entrepreneurial culture in teaching and research, maintaining close collaboration with the ICT industry and developing strong ties with various government and multilateral organizations. With its unique structure that combines the best features of both public and private sector universities, ITU aims to serve as a center for excellence in academia, research, entrepreneurship and innovation. The use of cross-disciplinary and innovative applied research to solve real-world problems is one of ITU’s main areas of focus. The nascent university already houses a number of researchcenters includingthe Center of Governance and Policy (CGP), Innovations for Poverty Alleviation Lab (IPAL), Technology and Research in Emerging Networks and Distributed Systems (TRENDS) center, the Neighborhood for Emerging World Technologies (NEWT) center, the Scientometrics Lab, and the Business Analytics Lab. As a result, the SDG Tech Lab has access to resources across multiple disciplines, with an especially close collaboration between the Economics and Computer Science Departments. This interdisciplinary approach helps create connections to address the central challenges that impact society, economy and polity. Through this, the Lab will aid a better understanding of the unique role of humans in sustainable development, and the future of the planet.

About Us

Team
Dr. Izza Aftab
Director- SDG Tech Lab

Dr. Izza Aftab has done her PhD in Economics from The New School of Social Research at The New School University on Fulbright Scholarship. Prior to that, Dr. Aftab did an MS in Public Policy from Beaconhouse National University. Dr. Aftab is an Assistant Professor and Head of Economics Department at ITU’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences. She has a focus on evidence based policy making using Big Data.

Murad Javed Khan
Deputy Director - SDG Tech Lab

Mr. Murad J. Khan is a U.S. qualified and experienced technology leader with over twenty years of varied technical and management experience in Information Technology (IT). He was previously Head of IT in a consulting engineering firm in Pakistan. In the past he has led teams and worked on software development projects for clients in many different industries including some of the largest airlines, banks and hotels in the United States. Murad holds a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech).

Dr. Mohsen Ali
Principal Investigator (P.I.), SDG Tech Lab

Dr. Mohsen Ali is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Computer Science, ITU. He is co-founder of Intelligent Machines Lab at ITU and heads Computer Vision Research Group. He holds a doctoral degree from the Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering, the University of Florida, as a Fulbright Scholar. Previously he received his MSc and MS in Computer Science degrees from Punjab University and Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) respectively.

Maha S. Kamal
Teaching Fellow/Core Team SDG Tech Lab

Ms. Maha S. Kamal is an international public policy specialist, with a focus on energy policy. She was awarded the Chevening Scholarship for a Masters in International Public Policy at Queen Mary, University of London. She also holds two Bachelor’s degrees from Boston University in International Relations and Journalism. In the past, she has worked on governance, water and energy security at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI). She has written on policy issues in Dawn, The News, South Asia Magazine, Express Tribune etc.

Amna Anwar
Teaching Fellow/Core Team SDG Tech Lab

Ms. Amna Anwar is a Masters graduate in Globalisation and Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex. She graduated with BSc. Honors with a major in Political Science. Before ITU, she resided in Malaysia where she worked for UNHCR project for Somalian refugees. In the past, she was a visiting faculty member at the Lahore School of Economics where she taught the course “International Political Economy”. Her current research focuses on global governance of food systems through a value chain analysis.

Sadaf Akbar
Research Associate

An economist at heart and a tech enthusiast, Ms. Sadaf Akbar has done her MPhil in Applied Economics from Forman Christian College and worked as a Digital Account Manager with a reputed software house, Fiverivers Tech for two years. She is currently working on the project of Citizen Feedback Monitoring Program with the SDG Tech Lab.

Noor Ul Islam
Research Associate

Ms. Noor Ul Islam is a Masters graduate in Economics from Lahore University of Management Sciences. Prior to this, she did her BS (Hons) in Economics from Forman Christian College. Her Master’s thesis focused on Industrialization and Education and she has the work experience of working as a Research Assistant at Lahore University of Management Sciences. Currently she is working on the Slums Mapping Project at SDG Tech Lab.

Muhammad Fasi Ur Rehman
Research Associate (Slums Mapping Project)

Mr. Fasi Ur Rehman did his Bachelors in GeoInformatics Engineering from Institute of Geographical Information System, NUST. Currently a Post Grad Student of Data Science at Information Technology University, he is working as a Research Associate for Slums Mapping Project at SDG Tech Lab.

Projects

Current Projects of SDG Tech Lab

Slum mapping using Satellite Imagery and Machine Learning

slum-mapping
Detecting slums through satellite imagery and machine learning
The SDG Tech Lab is currently researching slums in Pakistan, under the SDG 11: Creating Sustainable Cities and Communities. An inter-disciplinary project, the Slum Mapping project aims to create a model for satellite based remote sensing imagery to identify areas, estimate population size and explore other socio-economic conditions of slums across selected cities of Pakistan. A detailed desk review was conducted for a literature review which revealed large disparities in the definitions of slums according to context. A detailed questionnaire was then designed under the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) framework. The rubric was then mapped under the SDGs. When fully developed, the methodology would not just be able to remotely identifyslums, but will also predict their area, population and selected economic characteristics. Themethodology design includes surveys by team of researchers of areas provisionally designated as slumsby the computer. These surveys will be geo-localized to help convert the collected information to the socio-economic dataset.High resolution satellite imagery will then be used to create the corresponding image part of the dataset.A machine learning based algorithm will be designed to predict different visual markers related to survey and direct slum segmentation. Deep learning based Convolutional Neural Networks will be applied.The plan is to carry out this project in three cities of Pakistan: Lahore (Punjab); Hyderabad (Sindh); Peshawar (KPK). This research project is on-going.

Citizen Feedback Monitoring Program (CFMP) in the context of different provinces

Around the world, political leaders and government officials are experimenting with information and communication technology (ICT) initiatives to project and support citizens’ voice, with the objective of improving public service delivery. One such example is the Citizen Feedback Monitoring Program (CFMP) being implemented in Punjab, Pakistan. It is a monitoring mechanism that seeks feedback from citizens to curtail corruption and improve service delivery by analyzing the trends and patterns emerging from the gathered data, its quality and resulting feedback. As a proactive governance initiative CFMP aims to:
citizen
Source: Punjab Informational Technology Board
CFMP is contributing and has the potential to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Pakistan with it’s primary contribution to Goal 16, which is to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” Goal 16 recognizes the centrality of effective, responsive and inclusive institutions in meeting societies’ aspirations for high-quality public services that are accessible to all. With this focus and emphasis, SDG 16 is a foundational condition and a key enabler for several other SDGs.
slum-mapping

Relevant Experience of ITU

The use of cross-disciplinary and innovative applied research to solve real-world problems is one of ITU’s main areas of focus. The nascent university already houses a number of research centers including the Center for Technology and Governance (CTG), the Innovations for Poverty Alleviation Lab (IPAL), the Technology and Research in Emerging Networks and Distributed Systems (TRENDS) center, the Neighborhood for Emerging World Technologies (NEWT) center, the Scientometrics Lab, and the Business Analytics Lab. ITU has received research and development funding from international organizations such as the World Bank and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). ITU has also implemented several initiatives in education, public health and law and order, sectors which are crucial to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in partnership with diverse stakeholders including organizations such as WHO and UNICEF as well with the Government of Punjab. In the past, ITU has worked across different sectors to introduce technology for public policy problems including food security, education quality, health surveillance and safety and security institutions.

Events

Inauguration of SDG Tech Lab
inaugration
Front from Left to Right - Mr. Ignacio Artaza (Country Director, UNDP), Ms. Lina Mousa (Country Representative, UNFPA), Dr. Niaz Ahmad Akhtar (Acting Vice Chancellor, ITU), Dr. Izza Aftab (Director SDG Tech Lab, ITU)
On 20th February, 2019 the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Information Technology University (ITU) Punjab launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Tech Lab in collaboration with United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)Pakistan.
inaugration
Ms.. Lina Mousa, Country Representative, UNFPA speaking at the occasion of the launch
The official inauguration ceremony was graced by Dr. Niaz Ahmad Akhtar, Acting Vice Chancellor ITU, Mr. Ignacio Artaza, Country Director, UNDP Pakistan and Ms. Lina Mousa, Country Representative, UNFPA.
inaugration
Key stakeholders and participants at the inauguration of the SDG Tech Lab
inaugration
Launch Day at the SDG Tech Lab

Events

SDG Tech Lab Workshop
inaugration
Inaugural Workshop with SDG Units (Federal and Provincial)
A collaborative workshop organized by ITU and UNDP highlighted the core objectives of the SDG Tech Lab and its scope of work. The representatives of the Federal, all the four provincial and regional SDG Units identified various socio-economic and governance issues where the use of technologycan contribute towards timely completion of SDGs in Pakistan. The Lab's team would be looking into the technology based solutions to the identified problems.
inaugration
Dr. Akmal Hussain, Dean School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Dr. Akmal Hussain, Dean of School of Humanities and Social Sciences, ITU, Dr.Izza Aftab Director SDG Tech Lab, Head of Economics Department, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, ITU and Shakeel Ahmad Chief Development Policy Unit and Assistant Country Director, UNDP highlighted the need for greater interprovincial collaboration for the effective implementation of SDGs in Pakistan.
inaugration
Dr.Izza Aftab, Director SDG Tech Lab
The Director of the SDG Tech Lab and Head of Economics Department at the ITU, Dr.Izza Aftab, who was the moderator of the workshop stressed the importance of taking ownership of the lab, saying that this lab is as much your lab as it is ours. She highlighted the contingency of success upon collaborative feedback and harnessing the potential of the lab through evidence-based research for better.
inaugration
UNDP Team at Inaugural Workshop, SDG Tech Lab

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SDG Tech Lab, Information Technology University, 6th Floor,
Arfa Software Technology Park,
Lahore, Pakistan

09:00 AM - 5:00PM
(042) - 111-111-ITU (488)