'AI For Social Good: Strengthening Capabilities and Government Frameworks in Asia and the Pacific’ informing AI Policies and Strategies in Bangladesh


With artificial intelligence (AI) poised to become as widespread as the internet, its impact in Asia and the Pacific is expected to grow further. In response to this development the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) and APRU, with funding from Google.org, developed the ‘AI for Social Good’ multi-stakeholder network. The network has been supporting policy makers by developing insights on what capabilities and governance frameworks will be most supportive for leveraging AI effectively for social good.


The ‘Strengthening Capabilities and Government Frameworks in Asia and the Pacific’ project is building on these past activities to achieve transformative impact by bringing together government agencies from the Asia-Pacific region and outstanding researchers to:

  • continue supporting research and cross-border connections on “AI for Social Good”;
  • provide active support in the development of country-specific AI governance frameworks and national capabilities; and
  • empower transparent AI ecosystems and develop AI solutions that tackle socio-economic challenges.


In collaboration with Bangaldesh Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Programme of the ICT Division and Cabinet Division of Bangladesh, scholars in AI related research will be conducting research to support the Bangladeshi Government in the development of policies promoting and enabling AI policy frameworks and building AI capabilities for social good in the following focus area:

Pregnancy Monitoring

Pregnancy is a natural process that results in a series of physiological and psychological changes in a pregnant woman. As a result, even a normal pregnancy may end in potentially life-threatening maternal and fetal complications. Most women do not experience emergencies during pregnancy, but any woman could. Continuous pregnancy monitoring should be ensured during this challenging time for the safety and well-being of both the pregnant woman and neonates. It could provide significant opportunities for health care professionals to observe the health-related parameters of their patients and detect pregnancy complications early, which increases the chance of a normal pregnancy and the birth of a healthy baby. Furthermore, it could also enhance a woman’s self-management because it disseminates behavior change communication messages to women about the importance of maternity care. Also, continuous pregnancy monitoring is essential in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal-3 – transforming the method of treatment and diagnosis as well as the relationship between health professionals and patients, which can be ensured by continuous monitoring.

Currently in Bangladesh, healthcare service providers perform this monitoring during a scheduled visit in maternity care units or at home visits. However, the utilization of maternity care provided by health professionals during and after delivery is alarmingly low in Bangladesh, and monitoring is not performed systematically yet. Besides, a large number of pregnant women do not have access to this service due to a shortage of health workforce, lack of knowledge, and some socio-cultural factors that hinder women’s access to adequate health care services during pregnancy. All of these factors highlight the need for personalized and continuous monitoring of pregnant women to improve health outcomes. Moreover, continuous monitoring can help in acquisition of data if interactive systems such as phonebased, internet-based, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), wearable devices etc. are used for monitoring. Most importantly, AI could provide a better understanding of pregnancy through analyzing the data collected from a variety of sources, or through the development of an interactive pregnancy assistant/monitoring system.

Research Projects

  1. Challenges in perceptions and reception of incorporating AI into continues pregnancy monitoring systems and related tech challenges – led by the NUS & KAIST Team
  2. Technological issues of Bangladesh’s health care sector and how these impact AI-based data analysis and decision-making processes- led by the Hawai’i Team
Projects & Scholars

Project Academic Lead

Prof. Toni Erskine, Australian National University

Toni Erskine is Professor of International Politics and has been Director of the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University (ANU) since 2018. She is also Editor of International Theory: A Journal of International Politics, Law, and Philosophy, Associate Fellow of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence at the University of Cambridge, and one of the Chief Investigators on the ‘Humanising Machine Intelligence’ (HMI) Grand Challenge Research Project at ANU. She was Chair of the 2020 Oceanic Conference on International Studies (OCIS), which was hosted by the Coral Bell School, and serves on the Research Committee of the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) and the Advisory Group for the Google/United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) ‘AI for the Social Good’ Research Network.


Research Leads of the NUS & KAIST Team

Dr. Olivia Jensen, National University of Singapore

Olivia Jensen is Lead Scientist at the LFR Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk at the National University of Singapore where she leads the Environment and Climate research pillar. She is an economist and public policy scholar specialising in water and environmental risk and governance. Her research is concerned with the spectrum of environmental risks and the design and evaluation of policy interventions to manage risk and strengthen community resilience, with a focus on cities in Asia. At IPUR, she partners with government agencies and international organisations to develop and deliver research projects with policy impact. Prior to joining IPUR, she was based at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS. Olivia holds a PhD and MSc in Development from the London School of Economics and a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of Oxford. She has lived and worked throughout Asia, including in China, Japan and India and has been based in Singapore since 2011.

Mr. Nathaniel Tan, National University of Singapore

Nathaniel Tan is a Senior Manager at the Lloyd’s Register Foundation Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk (IPUR), a multi-disciplinary research institute working on risk communication in Asia. He oversees the Institute’s programmes, partnerships and engagement efforts and is actively involved in projects related to technology adoption and Artificial Intelligence. Nathaniel is concurrently a M.A. candidate from the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore. His research is on the effects of values and privacy concerns on the adoption of digital technologies. Before IPUR, Nathaniel worked as a Foreign Service Officer in the Singapore Ministry of Affairs. He has a double degree in Business Management and Economics from Singapore Management University.

Dr. Cornelius Kalenzi, KAIST

Dr. Cornelius Kalenzi is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Korea Policy Center for the Fourth Industry Revolution (KPC4IR) at KAIST. He earned his Ph.D. and M.S. from KAIST, specializing in information and telecommunication Engineering and Management. He also trained in blockchain Strategy at the University of Oxford-Said Business School. He is also a Fellow of the World Economic Forum. His current research explores the technological, business, and social-economic impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and digital innovations, including artificial intelligence, blockchain, and financial technologies—aiming to pioneer new approaches to technology, policy, and governance issues accompanying the Fourth Industrial Revolution. His scholarly research includes publications and presentations in international forums such as European Commission-JRC, International Telecommunication Society (ITS), World Economic Forum, and UNESCAP.


Research Lead of the Hawai’i Team

Dr. Arif Rahman, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa & Hawai’i Pacific University

Dr. Arif Rahman received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (UHM), Honolulu, HI, USA in 2018 and his B.S. degree from the Military Institute of Science and Technology, Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2006, both in electrical engineering. He also received a B.S. degree in naval science from the Bangladesh Naval Academy (BNA), Chittagong, Bangladesh. Currently, Dr. Rahman is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UHM. He also joined Hawaii Pacific University (HPU) as a part-time Assistant Professor of engineering in 2021. His research focuses on the areas of microfluidics, microrobotics, single-cell patterning and assembly, reconfigurable electronics using liquid metals, inexpensive fabrication of optically reflective surfaces, respiratory devices for earth and space applications, and impedance spectroscopy for embryo assessment. Also, his research includes the use of machine learning and AI for cells and embryos image processing for their health assessment. Dr. Rahman is the recipient of the 2018 UH Mānoa College of Engineering Ph.D. Student Award. He is currently the Chair of the IEEE Young Professionals Hawai’i Affinity Group, Vice-Chair of the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTTS) Hawai’i Chapter, and a member of the Electronic Product and Services Board of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society.

More Information

For any queries please contact Ms Christina Schönleber at [email protected].