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Agent Of Change: Ford Empowers Women And Saves Lives In Rural India Through New Technology, SUV Capabilities

"Leveraging our strengths in building vehicles and in democratizing technology, we have pioneered a unique effort to remove all hurdles to mobility for these women and have made safe childbirths possible for them," said Joginder Singh, president and managing director, Ford of India. "SUMURR truly embodies Ford's DNA of utilizing smart technologies for a better world."

Coordinating with Ford on SUMURR were:

  • Department of Health (DPH) of the Government of Tamil Nadu: Provided guidance and detailed statistics on maternal health and infant mortality; posed a challenge to Ford to pilot the program in Kalvarayan Hills, a region that is remote and hard to access
  • U.S. Department of State: Provided guidance on program design and emphasized the need and role of healthcare for women
  • George Washington University: Helped manage and track SUMURR
  • IIT Madras Rural Technology and Business Incubator (RTBI): A nonprofit organization fostering entrepreneurship and focusing on technologies for rural India; developed and customized the mobile health applications used in SUMURR
  • Reliance IIT Center of Excellence (RITCOE): Focuses on providing excellence in the areas of telecom infrastructure and energy; RITCOE was involved in developing solutions for SUMURR around OpenXC platform
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras: A premier academic institute that provides world-class education and research facilities in engineering and technology. It is officially recognized as an Institute of National Importance by the government of India and provides guidance to RTBI and RITCOE
  • Hand in Hand India: A nonprofit organization with an overall mission to reduce poverty in India; Hand in Hand was the implementation partner helping to take the initiative to the community including training the government health workers with funding from Ford Motor Company Fund
  • University of Michigan: Helped determine the viability of SUMURR prior to program launch

"SUMURR is an initiative to harness the potential of affordable technologies with innovations that address local contexts for sustainable growth," says Ashok Jhunjhunwala, founder and co-chairman, RTBI and a professor of electrical engineering, IITM. "From voice-based local language interfaces to a portable system architecture that covers significant aspects of women and child healthcare, it is heartening to note that this program has not only democratized technology but is also finding acceptance and adoption of the technology with the rural mothers and healthcare personnel."

Berdish says SUMURR represents how Ford continues to evolve and take on more responsibility when it comes to sustainable issues around the world.

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