History of NSDR

The call for papers for the 3rd Workshop on Networked Systems for Developing Regions (NSDR) was announced today. NSDR 2009 will be held with ACM SOSP this year at Big Sky, Montana. Direct all whining about the location to the SOSP organizers please!

I thought I’d share a little history of NSDR on this blog. Research in technologies for developing regions has been going on for a while. For example, the TIER group at Berkeley started in 2003. However, this area (often dubbed as ICTD) lacked a sense of community with no specialized workshops/conferences.

In 2006, I was attending SenSys at Boulder, Colorado when I came across the call for workshops of SIGCOMM 2007. This was, apparently, the first time that SIGCOMM was going to Asia. I thought that a workshop focusing on networking challenges in developing regions can be a nice fit for the first SIGCOMM in Asia. I wrote a proposal hours before (and during) my flight from Denver to NYC. Submitted it before the deadline during my transit at NYC, with help from Umar Saif. We withdrew the proposal during my transit at Heathrow (mainly because we couldn’t get in touch with potential PC members). And after encouragement from Paul Francis (the SIGCOMM’07 workshops chair), re-submitted the proposal after landing at Amsterdam.

One crazy flight. And look where we are now. NSDR is, arguably, the leading event in technical ICTD research right now. So while we look forward to having a successful third workshop, lets not forget our humble (and slightly amusing) beginning.