Abstract

We examine the broad challenges facing a computer-based system to help match low-income domestic workers from an urban slum with potential middle-class employers in Bangalore, India. Due to the near impossibility of implementing such a system in one shot, we first implemented a paper-based system that provides the intended functionality but without a computer. This system proved a significant challenge in itself, and among the lessons learned are the crucial role of human intermediaries (necessary even in the final computer-based system), the importance of building skills among the domestic workers, the need for a strong value proposition for both employers and employees well above existing systems, and the requirement of technological literacy. We then show that these lessons are applicable to other scenarios where computing technology is applied to developingworld challenges, by analyzing corresponding issues in related work.
Our broad conclusion is that computer-based systems to solve developing-world problems often require significant work above and beyond an implementation of the technology, with trustworthy human intermediaries playing a critical role.

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