LUMS professor among 35 'World’s Top Young Innovators' 2011


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Jun 17, 2009
LAHORE: A LUMS professor for technology has been named by the MIT Technology Review as one of their 35 World’s Top Young Innovators for the year 2011.

This the first time in the past decade that a Pakistani has been recognised by the MIT Technology Review. He now joins an elite group of researchers and technologists including the likes of Google’s Seregy Brin and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

“The TR35 recognizes the world’s top 35 young innovators that are radically transforming technology as we know it. Their work – spanning medicine, computing, communications, energy, electronics and nanotechnology – is changing our world”, according to MIT Technology Review.

Dr Umar Saif, an associate professor at the LUMS School of Science of Engineering has been recognised for two of his innovations


The first a software, BitMate to help reduce download times using peer-to-peer technology for dial-up slow internet connections. The software released in February, has so far been downloaded 30, 000 times in 173 countries.

His second innovation,, is a mass SMS social network that has so far sent out four billion SMS for users in Pakistan.

The MIT Technology Review selects the top innovators after a rigorous evaluation process. Judges, who are leading experts in their fields from universities such as MIT, Stanford and Harvard, consider hundreds of high-impact researchers and entrepreneurs from all over the world, out of which top 35 are chosen for the award.

“We are immensely proud of this recognition for Dr Saif and of how it reflects on the cutting edge work being done at our young School of Science and Engineering”, said Adil Najam, Vice Chancellor of LUMS. “Dr Saif’s work demonstrates not only the potential for innovation in technology for development but also the level of enterprise and expertise that already exists within Pakistan and the larger developing world.”

Dr Saif has won numerous awards for his innovative technology solutions for the developing-world. He was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2010.

He is a recipient of the MIT Technovator Award (Grassroot Technologies); Mark Weiser Award for best paper award at PERCOM, the top rated conference in the field of pervasive computing; Digital Inclusion Award from Microsoft Research and the IDG CIO Technology Pioneer Award.

Before moving to Pakistan, Saif worked at MIT and received a PhD from the University of Cambridge. He is a Fellow of the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust.

Congrats to Dr Saif :jinnah

Really need more people like him contributing to education , techonology , science and other fields .
somthing positive & just one response ... a thread on 10 year old incident in Gujrat , would have got to 10 pages by now . very unfortunate really .
^ lol true and we complain why Pakistan media is always showing the bad side of the country :facepalm:

never again will i blame the media because they know their audience well .
This really is great news! What is especially really nice to see is how the Professor came back to Pak to help the country, when with the quality of his education, he could have settled down somewhere else quite easily.

Given the contributions of the other nominees, he may miss out on the top spot, but to be even nominated for the award is a great achievement. Inshallah I wish him well and hope he carries on the good work and more follow in his footsteps!
Forgive me for my ignorance but is the dial up internet connection still of any use?
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Forgive me for my ignorance but does the dial up internet connection still of any use?

i dont think anyone uses that now in pakistan. there are many companies offering broadband packages at affordable rates. also a few months ago was searching for the scratch cards for the dial up, but couldnt find any.

i am not exactly sure whether any company is offering the dialup service now.
this is the team who is responsible for developing the products, and Umair Saif is their lead. i know two people personally from the list. Imran Farooq was my lab instructor for a number of courses, and is an amazing person and is at Microsoft. Fahad Pervaiz was the teacher's assistant of my software for mobile course.
That is brilliant.

A doctrate award from Cambridge (well done Sir) and that's your bright career on a platter. Glad he's used it to very good effect.
Punjab — the ‘e’ in e-governance

I want to share three stories.

The first story is about vaccination coverage in Punjab. For years, Pakistan has struggled with the challenge of vaccinating children in far-flung villages and dense urban centres. Enough vaccines and staff were made available without any significant improvement in coverage. The sheer scale made it impossible to monitor vaccination staff. In 2014, however, this began to change in Punjab when the abysmal coverage of 25% suddenly started to improve. A smartphone application was given to 3,700+ vaccinators to report location and children data, making them accountable for their attendance and performance. Satellite images of urban settlements were then used to deepen the coverage. Today, Punjab’s vaccination coverage stands at an impressive 97%.

The second story is about investigating terrorism incidents. Mobile phones are extensively used to plan and execute terrorist attacks. But despite seamless sharing of data by telcos, the Punjab Police had been wrestling with using this data to trace the culprits. This, however, is no more the case. Now, as soon as a terrorist attack occurs, the police obtain the detailed call records from a geo-fenced zone (a virtual boundary around the area). Software is then used to identify unusual communication patterns, such as cellphones using different SIMs within a short span of time or calls made to conspicuous foreign destinations. This information then helps the police to zero in on the suspects.

The third story is about agriculture subsidies. The government has been doling out billions to provide subsidised fertiliser to farmers. These payments were paid to fertiliser companies in the hope of reducing prices. But the success and transparency of this model was always questioned. Since last year, however, the Punjab government has started to pay directly to farmers. Computer-generated codes are inserted in fertiliser bags, which are then redeemed by farmers after verification. Payments are then made through mobile payment platforms. So far 1.3 million codes have been issued and a payment of Rs28+ million has been made against 86,000+ verified codes.

A recently-released publication of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) shared data about many such stories where technology is driving a positive change. Pakistan has had a number of failed attempts at digitising the government in the past, starting from the federal e-government directorate established in 2002. Moreover, there is nothing new about using geo-tagged data, geo-fencing for crime analysis or even using redeemable codes and yet the public sector in Pakistan had so far wrestled with adopting these technologies. So what made it possible now in Punjab?

There are three pieces of this technology puzzle — resources, capability and demand — which together can make e-governance work. In Punjab’s case, the chief minister has given his unconditional support to the PITB and ensured resource flow.

The PITB, on the other hand, provided the long needed ‘e’ in the e-governance — the capability to provide solutions for governance challenges. Dr Umar Saif, the incumbent chairman and a Cambridge PhD, has developed a massive 1,000+ team, including 100+ developers, that provide a critical mass for Punjab’s e-governance initiatives. Specifically, the capacity of the PITB’s Software Engineering Unit to churn out computer applications overnight is what apparently has resonated well with the CM.

In all of the three stories above, there was a strong demand either by the chief minister himself or a few passionate civil servants championing the cause. But where such demand is absent, the use of technology has been limited.

Going forward, there is a need to create a stronger demand and ownership for e-governance in the core of the government.

This what happens when you appoint a great mind like Dr Umar Saif on top goes to Shahbaz Sharif for supporting PITB and Dr Saif
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="ur" dir="rtl">وہ صاحب جو بار بار اپنا نمبر بدل کے “You are next” کے WhatsApp میسج کرتے رہتے ہیں اُن سے گزارش ہے کہ آپ مزید تکلیف نہ کریں مجھے آپکا پیغام موصول ہو گیا ہے اور آپکی نیک خیریت مطلوب ہے۔</p>— Umar Saif (@umarsaif) <a href="">April 14, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="ur" dir="rtl">وہ صاحب جو بار بار اپنا نمبر بدل کے “You are next” کے WhatsApp میسج کرتے رہتے ہیں اُن سے گزارش ہے کہ آپ مزید تکلیف نہ کریں مجھے آپکا پیغام موصول ہو گیا ہے اور آپکی نیک خیریت مطلوب ہے۔</p>— Umar Saif (@umarsaif) <a href="">April 14, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Sounds like someone is about to be caught and is trying to start passing himself off as a martyr :ua