Grassroots and Development Category

Chamindra de Silva

Chamindra de Silva is the acting executive director of the Open Source R&D foundation, Lanka Software Foundation. He interest lies in developing open source software to provide a transparent, cost-effective and easily adaptable solution for managing disasters of large scale. He is the director of the Sahana project, a global disaster management tool that grew out of the 2004 Asian tsunami disaster. Initially developed to help manage the scale of the disaster, it was deployed by the Sri Lankan Government. Sahana is a suite of web based applications that addresses different problems with regard to the information required for post-disaster management of coordination problems such as locating missing people, coordinating different aid groups, managing aid resources, etc. The project employs the use of Free and Open Source Software which makes the system open and transparent and encourages worldwide volunteer and community involvement. Due to its immense potential, Sahana has grown to be a globally recognized project and has subsequently been deployed to manage the earthquake disaster in Northern Pakistan (2005), the Guinsaugon landslide in the Philippines (2006) and the earthquake in Yogjakarta, Indonesia (2006).

He is also the founder secretary of the IEEE computer society in Sri Lanka and has also contributed to the information security working group of the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka. He has about 10 years of experience in the IT industry playing various technical and managerial roles, mostly in Virtusa, a 3500 strong software solutions company headquartered in Boston, where he was the last global R&D manager. Since its inception, the Sahana project has received wide recognition and a number of awards including, the Free Software Award for Social Benefit (Feb 2007), Sourceforge Project of the Month (June 2006), Software 2006: Good Samaritan Award (April 2006, US) and Network World’s top 10 Open Source Companies to Watch (Aug 2006).

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Prasanga Lokuge

Prasanga Lokuge is an Engineer at Medtronic in Minneapolis, Minnesota where she works on the design and development of biologic-based solutions to address unmet medical needs in the field of Cardiovascular Disease.

Outside of her full-time work, Prasanga has been working on technology innovation for an affordable, culturally sensitive premature infant incubator for rural communities in the developing world that do not have access to electricity. Since graduation from MIT in 2003, Prasanga has continued to work on her novel incubator concept, trademarked the IncuPouchTM (patent pending) addressing a crucial aspect that is often overlooked by existing incubator designs: that of the mother-child bond. The IncuPouchTM serves preemies that have fully developed organs but are in need of protection from heat loss and dehydration. A predicate version of this passive incubator was awarded the MIT-Lemelson International Design Award in 2002. Over the past 5 years, Prasanga has worked with pediatricians, nurse practitioners and anesthesiologists from various parts of the world, to seek input on the new concept. Prasanga’s vision is to partner with local communities in the developing world, to customize the IncuPouch™ concept to suit local needs and materials, in order to ensure cultural acceptance and sustainability.

Prasanga’s interest in understanding the unmet medical needs of developing countries, has also led her to become a certified biomed for Operation Smile, an international non-profit that conducts free cleft lip and palate surgeries in children in resource-limited parts of the world. On these international missions, Prasanga supports all medical equipment-related functions, including the setting up of operating rooms, and fixing the hospitals’ equipment in addition to understanding their overall device needs. Prasanga also volunteers as a technology consultant for other non-profits focusing on infant health on a global scale.

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