Umar Saif

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Umar Saif
Usaif-cc.jpg
Born Pakistan
Residence Lahore
Citizenship Pakistani
Nationality Pakistani
Fields Computer Science
Institutions University of Cambridge
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge-MIT Institute
Lahore University of Management Sciences
Saif Center of Innovation
Alma mater LUMS and University of Cambridge
Known for Research and Entrepreneurship in ICTD
Notable awards Google Faculty Research Award
MIT TR35: World Top 35 Young Innovators
Young Global Leader, World Economic Forum
Mark Weiser Award (IEEE Percom’08)
MIT Technovator Award
IDG Technology Pioneer Award

Umar Saif is a Pakistani computer scientist and entrepreneur, who is known for his work on using ICT solutions for developing-world problems.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16] He is also the founder of Plan9,[17] Pakistan's largest startup incubator and is often credited as one of the main forces behind the IT ecosystem in Pakistan.[18][19] Saif holds a BSc. from the Lahore University of Management Sciences and PhD in Computer Science from University of Cambridge, where he was a Commonwealth Scholar at Trinity College. Saif is the founding Vice Chancellor of the Information Technology University Punjab and established one of the first startup incubators in Pakistan, called the Saif Center of Innovation (SCI).[20] Saif’s work on grassroots technologies received the MIT Technovator Award[21] in 2008 and he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2010[22]

In August 2011, the MIT Technology Review named Saif among its list of the 35 "World’s Top Young Innovators for the year 2011." The list recognises the works of the world’s top young innovators that are radically transforming technology; it was also the first time in the past decade that a Pakistani had been featured. By featuring in the list, Saif now joins an elite group of researchers and technologists including the likes of Google’s Sergey Brin and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.[23][24][25]

Life and education[edit]

Saif attended Aitchison College, Lahore, Pakistan. This was followed by three years at Lahore University of Management Sciences where he studied for his BSc. in Computer Science. He received his PhD from Trinity College, Cambridge when he was only 22 years old [1] . Saif worked and taught at Massachusetts Institute of Technology between 2001–2005 before moving back to Pakistan. At MIT, Saif worked at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory where he was part of the core team that developed system technologies for the $50 Million Project Oxygen.[10] He also managed the $5 Million collaboration between University of Cambridge and MIT, funded by Cambridge-MIT Institute, on Pervasive Computing technologies.[26] Saif’s work on Pervasive Computing received the prestigious Mark Weiser Award in 2008[27]

Academic career and research[edit]

Dr. Umar Saif was appointed the first Vice-chancellor of the Information Technology University (ITU).[28] At the age of 34, he became the youngest Vice-chancellor of a university in Pakistan. Earlier, Saif received tenure at the LUMS School of Science and Engineering. Saif runs the Dritte Initiative,[29] focused on using technology to solve the problems in the developing-world. Saif’s research in ICTD is funded by a Microsoft Research Digital Inclusion Award,[30] a Google Faculty Research Award.

Saif and his students developed BitMate,[14][15][31] a BitTorrent client designed for the low-bandwidth clients in the developing-world.[32][33] BitMate has been downloaded more than 30,000 times by users from 173 countries.[34][35] BitMate doubles the performance of low-bandwidth clients while drastically improving their fairness (upload capacity) by enabling low-bandwidth peers to help each other download faster.[36]

His recent work in early epidemic warning systems [2][3][5] and speech-based services for low-literacy users has had widespread impact [37]

Entrepreneurship[edit]

Saif has co-founded several startups at his incubator SCI [20]. Two of his startups have played an important role in supporting civil society during political turbulence and natural disasters in Pakistan.[16][38][39] Saif co-founded See`n`Report [21], Pakistan’s first citizen journalism service, during the political turmoil (and subsequent media bans) at the tail-end of the Musharraf era. Amidst media bans, See`n`report was used by civil society activists to report eyewitness accounts, using their cell-phones, during the historic lawyer’s movement.[40] See`n`Report’s platform is now used by leading news and TV channels in Pakistan (and elsewhere) to run citizen journalism initiatives, including Geo TV (GeoDost)[41] and Samaa TV (iSamaa).[42] See`n`report was used by reporters and NGOs to report events live during the massive floods in Pakistan in 2010.[39] Saif is also the co-founder of SMSall.pk [22], Pakistan’s first mobile social network.[43] SMSall is one of the fastest growing SMS networks in Pakistan, used by hundreds of thousands of people to stay in touch, coordinate relief efforts and enable mobile communities. Over 4 Billion SMS have been sent using SMSall in Pakistan.[16][44] Dr. Umar Saif has written about his startups in Washington Post. He is also famous for his work for Dengue Fever.

Public Service[edit]

In Nov 2011, Dr. Umar Saif was appointed as the Chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) and Secretary IT of the Government of Punjab, Pakistan. In this role, Dr. Saif is responsible for all public-sector IT projects in Punjab, including e-governance, capacity-building of the IT industry, IT-enabled citizen services and IT R&D in universities in Punjab.[45]

During his tenure as Chairman of the Punjab IT Board, Dr. Saif launched several initiatives aimed at improving citizen services for police, high-courts, city district government and health.[46] He also led the development of Punjab Innovation Policy in collaboration with Google Inc.[47] and launched Plan-9, Pakistan's first public-sector startup incubator.[48] He is largely credited with revamping the intermediate and matric exam system in Punjab, after a complete debacle of the exam system in the previous year.[49] Under his leadership, PITB designed the smartphone-based early epidemic warning system that played a central role in fighting the Dengue epidemic in Punjab in 2012,[3][5][50] and developed an innovative model for fighting corruption using technology.[2][51] PITB also led the deployment of the first Automatic Fare Collection system for mass transit in Pakistan and automated the operations of the first Lahore Metro Bus System.[52] Dr. Saif led the development of Pakistan's first e-learning platform (http://elearn.punjab.gov.pk), making school textbooks in Punjab freely available online, augmented with interactive learning resources.[53][54]

In Jan 2013, Dr. Umar Saif was appointed the first Vice-chancellor of the Information Technology University (ITU).[28] At the age of 34, he became the youngest Vice-chancellor of a university in Pakistan.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

  • 2013 ACM CHI Best Paper Award
  • 2011 Google Faculty Research Award
  • 2011 MIT TR35: World Top 35 Young Innovators
  • 2010 Young Global Leader, World Economic Forum
  • 2008 MIT Technovator Award (Grassroot Technologies)
  • 2008 IDG Technology Pioneer Award
  • 2008 IEEE Percom Mark Weiser Award
  • 2006 Microsoft Research (MSR) Digital Inclusion Award
  • 2001 Fellow, Cambridge Commonwealth Trust
  • 1998 National Commonwealth Scholar, University of Cambridge

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b High, Peter. Forbes http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterhigh/2014/02/03/a-professor-with-a-western-past-remakes-pakistans-entrepreneurial-future/ |url= missing title (help). 
  2. ^ a b c Economist (1 June 2013). "Zapping mosquitoes, and corruption". Economist.com. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c [1]
  4. ^ Hosh Media (25 October 2011). "The Pakistani innovator". Dawn.Com. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
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  7. ^ "Umar Saif". People.csail.mit.edu. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  8. ^ "The Morning Show "14-10-10" Part 03". YouTube. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "Spare Some Bandwidth?". Technology Review. 18 August 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Logan, Tracey (31 March 2004). "Technology | Computers to be 'oxygen of the future'". BBC News. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  11. ^ http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19626305.900-poor-mans-broadband-has-a-turn-of-speed.html?feedId=online-news_rss20
  12. ^ [4][dead link]
  13. ^ "ITLOW Ep46 – Dr. Umar Saif Reveals the Entrepreneurship Formula (Part 1 of 2) | CIO Pakistan WebStudio". Webstudio.ciopakistan.com. 27 July 2009. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  14. ^ a b Roettgers, Janko (28 February 2011). "BitMate Brings BitTorrent to the Developing World". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  15. ^ a b "BitMate, le "BitTorrent des pays en développement"". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  16. ^ a b c "SMSall: The Largest Group “SMS Mailing Listâ€? in Pakistan". MobileActive.org. 23 March 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
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  21. ^ "Global Indus Technovator Awards". Web.mit.edu. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  22. ^ "Umar Saif named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum « In the Line of Wire". Jehanara.wordpress.com. 4 March 2010. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  23. ^ "LUMS professor among ‘World’s Top Young Innovators'". The Express Tribune. 24 August 2011. 
  24. ^ "Technology Review's annual list of 35 Innovators under 35". Technology Review. 
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  26. ^ http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/iel5/8968/29028/01308174.pdf?arnumber=1308174
  27. ^ "Mark Weiser Award Winners". percom.org. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
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  29. ^ Ali, Muneeb. "Dritte". Dritte. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  30. ^ "Microsoft Research Awards $1.7 Million in Academic Funding to Advance Research in Health, Education and Digital Inclusion: Company names 28 Digital Inclusion and Tablet PC RFP winners worldwide". Microsoft.com. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  31. ^ BitMate – BitTorrent for the Less Privileged. "BitMate – BitTorrent for the Less Privileged". Dritte. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  32. ^ "BitMate: Low bandwidth BitTorrent and Open Educational Resources?". Khokhar.net. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  33. ^ "Neuer BitTorrent-Client für langsames Internet: "P2P demokratisiert den Informationszugang"". computerwoche.de. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  34. ^ "BitMate: BT for the Less Privileged | Free software downloads at". Sourceforge.net. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  35. ^ http://rapidshare.com/#!download%7C837l33%7C450727588%7CBitmate.msi%7C18871
  36. ^ "BitMate Brings BitTorrent to the Developing World – Online Video News". Gigaom.com. 28 February 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  37. ^ http://www.technologyreview.com/news/512156/viral-phone-game-helps-illiterate-pakistanis-find-job-listings/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  38. ^ "News Headlines". Cnbc.com. 5 September 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  39. ^ a b Ulbricht, Melissa (30 August 2010). "MediaShift Idea Lab . SeenReport Helps Citizens Report on Floods in Pakistan". PBS. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  40. ^ "South Asia | Pakistanis recoil against 'crackdown'". BBC News. 11 March 2009. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  41. ^ "Geo Dost – Aap ki apni Khabar". Geodost.tv. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  42. ^ "iSamaa – My Voice, My perspective". Isamaa.tv. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
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  44. ^ "SMS-all Cheapest Group SMS Service". Smsall.pk. 20 June 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
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