Rwanda IoT

Research IoT Rwanda

Together with an array of graduate and undergraduate students, I’ve conducted research on Internet of Things and data-related technologies and policies in East Africa. The project, funded by an NSF IRES grant, brought together Penn State students with those from Carnegie Mellon Africa, particularly those working with Dr. Tim Brown.

Why IoT? Why Rwanda?

Rwanda is a innovative country, located in the tech hub of East Africa. The country has made IT a pillar of its development plan, attracting investments and making it the choice for Carnegie Mellon’s Africa campus.

IoT and data management technologies will play a critical role in the country’s development, but also have the potential to connect into the global ‘Big Data’ ecosystem.

To apply – This program is now permanently closed.

As an example of past research, read more about our ‘Drones and Agriculture‘ project. See our paper ‘Agency and Extraction in Emerging Industrial Drone Applications: Imaginaries of Rwandan FarmWorkers and Community Members‘ for greater insight.


Fulfilling the promise of ‘Big Data’ requires accurate and timely data from countries across the globe. Internet-of-Things (IoT) technologies, such as remote sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), have the potential to contribute to global data hubs.

However, most IoT applications and their data structures are designed to solve local problems, such as crop protection and local food shortage predictions. With funding from the National Science Foundation, this project will train 18 U.S. master’s students (6 per cohort) in multicriteria design of and policies for IoT systems with the aim of making local IoT data available to global data scientists.

The project involved collaborations with professors/mentors at Carnegie Mellon Africa, in Kigali, Rwanda, which serves as the Center of Excellence for IoT under the World Bank’s Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence program. Through the collaboration, students will received interdisciplinary research training in wireless networks, software engineering, policy studies and sociotechnical systems. This interdisciplinary training developed knowledge of low cost IoT systems, usable in a range of contexts, including the U.S., while creating the potential for increasing access to data by agriculture and forced migration scientists. The training also enhanced students’ awareness of information and communication technology (ICT) innovations systems in East Africa, expanding global perspectives within the U.S. IT workforce.

For more information, contact Dr. Carleen Maitland at

Funding provided by NSF through award #1827170