Appendix 3 – Industry/Government/Public Sector linkages and Applied Projects

Through CHISEL, Foundry, and TPI, my teams have developed important linkages with the government, public sector organizations, key industry stakeholders, universities, and different departments and schools within said universities. These collaborations have powered many of our events, and have allowed us to organise multiple education workshops, and to undertake many fascinating and diverse public-interest projects. Although the list is extensive, I am highlighting below some of the most notable mentions from the past five years.

Raising awareness through technology

Autism Assisted Portal and Mobile App

Improving awareness regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Pakistan and alleviating the deeply-embedded cultural misconceptions surrounding it are causes I feel passionately about. It is for this reason that I created a web portal called Autism Assisted, designed to deliver much-needed locally contextualised information to those living with ASD, as well as their loved ones. In developed countries, private and public institutes invest heavily in providing authentic information about autism through social media and websites. However, this content is not very useful in Pakistan primarily because of the English language barrier, and there was no prior existing local platform providing authentic and comprehensive information to parents of children with ASD, guiding them through their first steps. In response to this gap, Autism Assisted provides detailed information about ASD in general, as well as information about differences in ASD presentation within children and within adults. It also includes resources and success stories, with all of this material provided in four languages: English, Urdu, Pashto and Sindhi. It is a reliable resource center of up-to-date information in multiple formats (web, mobile, print, video, and accessibility support) as a means of removing barriers to access. We supplemented the portal with extensive social media campaigns for increasing ASD-related awareness, encouraging a timely diagnosis and long-term wellbeing.

Corona Assisted Portal

The ongoing pandemic has created considerable obstacles in the way of research, hindering quite a number of projects. My team and I, however, used this opportunity to help local audiences remain informed about the virus and the pandemic. Using the architecture of the Autism Assisted Web Portal as a reference, we developed the Corona Assisted Web Portal, a hub for key information, safety and prevention guidelines, relevant resources, helplines, myths, and FAQs. The portal also has a dedicated page featuring the heroes of the pandemic – the frontline workers. It is still operational, providing information both in English and Urdu.

Dyslexia/Learning Disabilities Assisted Portal

A third portal in development is our Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities (LD) Assisted portal. This portal is also based on the Autism Assisted portal model, and hosts information in two languages, with more language options underway. The portal is currently in its final stages of development.

Supporting women mobility and safety through technology

Punjab Safe City/Women Safety App

Lab: CHISEL, Partner: Punjab Safe City Authority (PSCA), Punjab, Pakistan, Year: 2017-2018
In collaboration with the Pakistan Safe Cities Authority (PSCA) in 2017, my lab played an integral role in the development and maintenance of the official Punjab Safe City app, especially in terms of its central Women Safety component. The app is a harassment reporting tool, allowing users to report unsafe areas, track locations and connect to the emergency helpline (15). The project was sponsored by PSCA, and has been extended by the SCA to offer more comprehensive services.

Humqadam App for Human Rights Defenders

Lab: TPI, Partner: Shirkat Gah – Women’s Resource Center, Year: 2020-2021
We developed Humqadam with the aim of promoting the welfare and safety of Human Rights Defenders. The mobile phone app provides contact information regarding services corresponding to cases of VAWG (Violence Against Women and Girls) and other human rights violations. It also provides relevant information about police and law enforcement, government helplines, ministries, and commissions, as well as civil society organizations that provide legal aid and psychosocial support at national and provincial levels, and within eight districts (Peshawar, Mardan, Lahore, Vehari, Quetta, Jaffarabad, Karachi and Hyderabad).

Harassment Assisted Portal

Lab: CHISEL, Partner: Office of Accessibility and Inclusion (OAI), LUMS , Year: 2021-2022
In collaboration with the Office of Accessibility and Inclusion, we are developing a Harassment Assisted Portal, the architecture and layout of which are similar to those of our Autism Assisted and Corona Assisted portals. This web portal aims to provide basic information about harassment, university and government policies on harassment, and training material about addressing different kinds of harassment. We plan to launch the portal by March 2022.

Making Culture and History accessible through technology

Lahori Khoji App

Lab: CHISEL, Partners: History Department at LUMS, Year: 2021
Popularly known as Lahore ka Khoji, Syed Faizan Abbas Naqvi is a young, local historian who knows the city of Lahore like the back of his hand. Naqvi worked closely in collaboration with my lab to create the Lahore Khoji App, which offers guided tours of the Walled City. The app development team performed extensive research and analysis in curating walking trails, including exploring the gates of the Walled City and their neighbourhoods, gathering information from the residents, and locating and identifying relevant historical sites and historical information through classical texts. The app was launched as part of World Heritage Day.

Walking in the City Project

Lab: CHISEL/TPI, Partners: History Department at LUMS, Year: 2020
In collaboration with the LUMS Digital Archives and the School of Humanities and Science, my lab created “Walking in the City”, an interactive website mapping Lahore’s social and cultural histories. The main impetus behind this project was to preserve, digitise, consolidate and safeguard research material and historical narratives belonging to groups usually marginalized or ignored in popular history, especially in South Asia, and particularly in Pakistan. The diverse catalog of themes explored within “Walking in the City” includes political movements that originated in Lahore, notable figures that shaped Lahore’s literary culture between the 1930s and 1970s, and explorations of the lives of Bhagat Singh and Ilm Din who shaped the region’s political legacy. Artistic impressions of the city have also been included in a dedicated gallery that includes paintings and stamps. We conducted interviews, collected photographs, explored several libraries, and accessed archives to identify and shortlist the historical sites we would showcase on the website.

Design and Evaluation of Interactive Museum Experience at Taxila Museum

Lab: TPI & CHISEL, Partners: UNESCO, Pakistan and Taxila Museum, Year: 2018
This first-of-its-kind interactive application for the Taxila Museum was designed to enhance the museum visitor experience by increasing artifact accessibility and by offering virtual museum tours. Users of the app can also view collections at random, scan the QR codes provided to access more information, and even explore other archeological sites nearby.
Design of an Interactive Museum Experience at Kalasha Museum

Design of an Interactive Museum Experience at Kalasha Museum

Lab: CHISEL, Partners: UNESCO, Pakistan and Kalasha Museum, Year: 2019
In 2019, I served as Principal Investigator while my lab headed the development of an interactive museum experience at the Kalasha Museum in Chitral. The experience was designed entirely for the annual Kalasha Festival that features hordes of enthusiastic participants from all over the world. We developed this in response to UNESCO’s desire to showcase to visitors the Kalasha culture and heritage in an interactive and playful manner to the visitors. The mobile app boasts different storytelling features, images, videos and interactive content about the museum.

Awami Selfie Project for Lahore Biennale

In 2018, my lab participated in the Lahore Biennale – Lahore’s first such event – by creating a cross-platform ‘Awami Self-Expression Application’. Our work was displayed all across Lahore for two weeks, and was highly appreciated by the public and organizers.

Bringing Puppets to Life: Interactive Museum Experience for Rafi Peer Museum

Lab: CHISEL, Partners: Rafi Peer Museum, Year: 2019
In 2019, my lab joined hands with Lahore’s esteemed Rafi Peer Museum to create an interactive museum experience for visitors. This included QR code-based scanning, a photo booth, museum maps, and other interactive elements to make the experience more engaging and playful for all visitors, and especially for children.

Supporting children in diverse contexts using technology

Lahore Zoo Redesign Project (Raised 5 Million in collaboration with Nestle Pakistan)

Lab: CHISEL, Partners: Nestle Pakistan, Lahore Zoo
Another very fulfilling and enjoyable project I am currently working on involves redesigning the Lahore Zoo. I have undertaken this project in collaboration with Nestle Pakistan, and raised more than PKR 5 million to fund the project. The project includes redesigning name plates for the animals at the zoo, as well as reimagining display and information boards, play areas, and new ticket designs. One of the best parts of this project has been the design of the Lahore Zoo official mobile app, which can be used at the name plates installed next to all animal cages. Using the app, visitors can not only browse extended information about each respective animal, they can also access interactive maps of the zoo, browse animals using different trails, take playful selfies, and even play interactive games with other visitors in the zoo.

Playing with Science – Augmented Reality based Browsing Experience for National Museum of Science and Technology

Lab: CHISEL, Year: 2019
In 2019, my lab collaborated with the National Museum of Science and Technology to design an AR based application, allowing users to virtually browse different artifacts within the museum. The app includes AR-based museum maps, different artifact categories, and 3D animations (for one category of museum artifacts currently, with more underway.)

Child Protection Case Management and Referral System

Lab: TPI, Partners: Child Protection services Sindh, Balochistan, KPK, Gilgit-Baltistan, Oxford Policy Management group, UNICEF, Year: 2019-2022
Child protection is a complex and culturally sensitive discussion in Pakistan, resulting in an alarming dearth of reliable statistics related to child protection issues. In collaboration with Dr. Fareed Zafar, our team at TPI is developing a case management system to operationalise the Child Protection Case Management and Referral Models for all seven administrative regions in Pakistan. This is accompanied by an online interface that will help maintain digital records of child abuse cases, enabling authorities to track progress in each case.

Data and Governance: Dynamic and Interactive Financial Data Analytics for Policy and Governance (TPI)

Lab: TPI, Partners: SNG Pakistan and Provincial Finance Department , Year: 2021-2022
This project commenced in January 2021, and aims to improve the comprehensiveness, transparency and efficiency of budgetary processes in the public sector. The TPI team for this project is led by Dr. Fareed Zaffar, Dr. Adeel Zaffar, Dr. Sameen Ali Mohsin, and myself, and we are utilising a transdisciplinary approach to develop dashboards for select provincial departments within the Punjab Government, facilitating data analysis within the realms of budget-making and execution processes.

Data and Governance: Statistan and Moodistan (TPI) 

Lab: TPI, Partners: United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP), Year: 2017-2019
This was a particularly interesting project. My team and I created a comprehensive analytical platform focused on providing valuable statistical insights on news trends, story ‘lives’, representation sentiments, political leanings, and deeper biases. The online data portal we developed allows for live visualizations and exploration of available data sets. We have also provided sentiment analysis of different events based on news articles and social media feeds.

PeaceTech Exchange (PTX) Program in Pakistan (TPI)

Lab: TPI, Partners: United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and PeaceTech Lab, Year: 2016-2017
This was another project I led as the Principal Investigator, and was designed to promote the use of technology for peace-building in Pakistan, through hands-on workshops and awarding grants to support innovative ideas. I curated and conducted design-thinking based workshops and seminars for teams that showcased entrepreneurial initiative in technological peace-building. I also led the process of awarding and monitoring seed funding for the top 3-5 ideas and teams.