Agent of Change: Ford Empowers Women and Saves Lives in Rural India through New Technology, SUV Capabilities
Ford worked with public and private organizations on a pilot program designed to bring the right healthcare to the women and children living in an inaccessible part of rural India
Sustainable Urban Mobility with Uncompromised Rural Reach, known as SUMURR, enabled childbirth for 41 women with high-risk mothers pregnancies, visited 54 villages, and reached more than 3,100 people to facilitate community awareness programs focused on maternal and child healthcare
One key element of the SUMURR program was the Ford Endeavour, an SUV designed to handle the rough terrain of the region and powered by some of Ford’s most advanced technologies, which extended the physical reach of the healthcare services
Ford researchers are applying what was learned from SUMURR and the use of OpenXC, an open-source technology, to create customized user experiences and accelerate the creation of apps for mobile health
CHENNAI/DELHI/DEARBORN, Mich., March 7, 2013 – Henry Ford believed vehicles like his Model T would improve lives through greater mobility. More than 100 years later on the other side of the world, a young Indian mother named Mageswari connects that vision with the birth of her healthy baby boy.
Mageswari, 19, lives in Kodamaathi, a tiny village in rural India where Ford Motor Company just concluded a nine-month pilot program that entailed helping pregnant women overcome geographical and technological barriers that prevented them from receiving adequate healthcare.
Called Sustainable Urban Mobility with Uncompromised Rural Reach (SUMURR), the program made use of a Ford Endeavour SUV that was designed to handle the most difficult of terrains and traverse areas previously unreachable by four-wheeled vehicles. After arriving in rural areas, health professionals used laptops and cell phones to connect with doctors and medical help in ways they never have before.
As a result, SUMURR made safe childbirth possible for 41 pregnant women; women like Mageswari, who – with the help of the Ford Endeavour – was able to make it to the hospital in just enough time to give birth.
“If not for Ford Endeavour, I might have tried to reach the hospital in a two-wheeler,” she says. “I do not know what might have happened.”
The intervention area of Kalvarayan Hills has a higher infant and maternity mortality rate compared with most other pockets of Tamil Nadu – a key indicator of the need for prenatal care in the region.
Mageswari’s situation illustrates the kind of need that was addressed by SUMURR, and that’s where Ford comes in, according to David Berdish, manager of Social Sustainability.
Berdish says Ford is acting as an agent of change for a better world by forging innovative public-private partnerships with government, academic institutions, nonprofit stakeholders and company resources to support positive social advancement.
SUMURR represents the overall direction of such efforts. In fact, Berdish says similar projects are already being considered for other regions around the globe, including other parts of rural India, one in the state of Gujarat, India – where Ford has a manufacturing plant – and also in China and Brazil.
“Ford Motor Company is not in the business of telemedicine, but between the vehicle and the technology we provide, we can make it better,” says Berdish.
Nine months of success
The pilot program began in June 2012 and concluded in February 2013. In addition to facilitating safe childbirth for the women with high-risk pregnancies, the program led to 27 temporary pediatric and gynecology camps being set up in remote villages. Such visits enabled about 1,600 women and children to receive much needed healthcare, including screenings for basic illnesses and immunization coverage.
SUMURR reached another 3,100 people with its partners as the program traveled to 54 villages to facilitate community awareness programs on maternal and child health issues.
“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.
Ford’s Code of Human Rights, Basic Working Conditions and Corporate Responsibility, for example, emphasizes the importance of providing proper working conditions and overall human rights for Ford, its suppliers and the communities in which it does business.
Ford continues to increase its presence in India, where it operates a vehicle and engine manufacturing facility in Chennai, has invested $1 billion for its second integrated manufacturing facility at Sanand, and is committed to bringing the best of global products and services to the country. Ford also plans to expand its sales and service operations to 500 locations across India by mid-decade, with a focus and commitment to empower communities across its existing and proposed facilities.
“Ford views accessibility to a better life as a fundamental human right, so being able to successfully help women and children in parts of rural India obtain healthcare is a perfect fit for what we’re trying to do as a company from an overall sustainable approach,” says Berdish.
“SUMURR exemplifies the power of partnerships; through this effort, we are leveraging the best of public and private sector resources to support enhanced healthcare in areas that are hard to reach,” says Gloria Cabe, senior advisor, U.S. Department of State. “Collaborative efforts such as this are game changers, helping to promote innovative solutions to enduring challenges.”
Rural India today, Detroit tomorrow
K. Venkatesh Prasad, senior technical leader for Open Innovation at Ford, framed the initial vision for SUMURR, working with Berdish, and oversaw its technology development.
Prasad is based at Ford’s Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, Mich., where many of the company’s most talented researchers and scientists have helped develop revolutionary technologies such as Ford SYNC® and EcoBoost®. He says the mass-market applications of the kind of technology used in SUMURR are another benefit of Ford’s involvement.
For example, in some of the remote hilly villages where the Ford Endeavour was used, cellular phone signals were extremely weak or nonexistent.
As a result, researchers are developing a way to use the recently launched open-source platform OpenXC to create a local cloud housed in the Ford Endeavour. This enables nurses in the village to record and store crucial information about patients and transmit it when connectivity is available at a later time. Another new app could help in the timely communication of vital health parameters of the mother and enable hospital readiness while she is en route.
Prasad says that what Ford is learning about the technologies it developed for SUMURR, especially their performance under extremely demanding environmental conditions, is invaluable, and can potentially be applied to any Ford global technology development.
“SUMURR exemplifies how Ford is using its global reach to address regional issues and causes around the world and at the same time identify local social and technology entrepreneurs who we can partner with to further develop the kind of solutions that will shape our future,” says Prasad. “The fundamental aspects of what we did in rural India could very much wind up in the driveways of Detroit.”
About Ford Motor CompanyFord Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 171,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visithttp://corporate.ford.com.
New Ford Fusion Minimizes Pollen and ‘Touch’ Allergens
Ford has begun requiring that more than 100 materials and components meet stringent standards to minimize potential allergy issues on the new Fusion and other Ford vehicles
Engineers avoid materials such as latex, chrome and nickel – a metal 10 percent of Americans are allergic to – that can cause allergic reactions
Similar to a furnace filter in a house, cabin air filters in the 2013 Fusion and other new Ford vehicles prevent airborne particles such as dust, spores, fungus and pollen from entering the vehicle
More than half of all Americans test positive to one or more allergens
DEARBORN, Mich., March 19, 2013 – As spring arrives and more Americans prepare to face allergies, the new 2013 Ford Fusion can help combat common airborne and touch-based allergens, while monitoring possible irritants in areas where customers are driving or planning to visit.
Ford engineers tested more than 100 materials and components on the new Fusion and other Ford vehicles for allergy issues. Engineers avoid – or minimize – materials such as natural latex, hexavalent chromium and nickel, which can produce an allergic reaction in some people.
Components requiring allergen testing include common high-touch areas such as the seats, steering wheel, armrests, door handles and shifters.
“Allergies affect large numbers of people, so anything we can do to reduce potential allergens inside Ford vehicles we do through rigorous, controlled testing,” said Linda Schmalz, supervisor of Core Material Engineering for Ford.
WebMD says more than half of all Americans test positive to one or more allergens. Allergies have been increasing for the past three decades across all age, gender and racial groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ford seeks to reduce the irritation of allergens – associated with seasonal weather and possibly rash-inducing materials – by rigorously testing its vehicles and installing cabin air filters that prevent airborne particles such as dust, spores, fungus and pollen from entering the vehicle.
From dust to hexavalent chromium (a chemical sometimes found in dyes, paints and plastics), natural latex to pollen, almost any material or substance can be a potential allergen. Ford testers make sure dyes and formaldehyde are strictly limited to levels that are acceptable even for clothing.
Cleanest possible cabin airCabin air filters improve driving comfort by reducing particle concentration, improve cleanliness and protect climate control components from particle deposits. These filters also capture soot, smog and tobacco smoke.
Because of the seamless way it works, many customers may not realize they have a cabin air filter. In most cases, the filter is accessed through the glove box. Ford dealers change the filters as part of the recommended maintenance for all vehicles.
In just more than a year, Ford delivered on the initial research with launch of the SYNC AppLink-compatible Allergy Alert app – available on the 2013 Fusion and other new Ford vehicles – and as one of the first steps toward helping drivers take care of themselves and their passengers.
With SYNC® AppLink™, drivers can quickly access allergy information through the Allergy Alert app. Through the app’s pollen index rating, drivers can request to hear the types of allergen conditions they are likely to encounter that may cause a flare-up in personal allergy symptoms. The app also provides a risk index for asthma, flu/cough/cold and ultraviolet rays.
Drivers can access Allergy Alert app information simply by connecting smartphones or tablets to their cars using simple voice commands, while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
The SYNC AppLink-enabled version of Allergy Alert is available for iOS devices and is a free app that can be downloaded from the App Store.
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 171,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visithttp://corporate.ford.com.
DEARBORN, Mich., March 18, 2013 – Traffic fatalities are the leading cause of death for American teens. In recent weeks, a number of crashes involving teen drivers have led to more than a dozen teenagers tragically losing their lives. And a recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) shows that teen driver fatalities are on the rise among 16-17-year-old drivers.
Parents can help reverse that trend. Research done for Ford’s Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) program shows teens tend to emulate how their parents drive. In fact, more than three quarters of teens and tweens surveyed say they rely heavily on their parents’ advice when they start to drive.
“By setting a good example behind the wheel, parents can increase the chances their children will adopt safe driving practices,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “While state laws and educational programs are critical, ultimately, parents are the most critical component to keep their teen drivers safe.”
Tips for parents
Experts from Ford Driving Skills for Life have tips on what parents can do to help their teens be better drivers:
Engage in the driving process – As teens get closer to earning/acquiring their learner’s permit, parents should actively engage with them about driving. Talk about safe driving behaviors, practice with them, seek educational opportunities, and be clear that unsafe actions won’t be tolerated.
Buckle up – It’s the law, and if parents don’t wear their seat belts, their teen is more likely to do the same. In a crash, a person not buckled up is much more likely to be injured or killed than someone wearing a seat belt.
Never speed – Research done for Ford Driving Skills for Life shows that if parents speed, their teens are more likely to do the same. Excessive speed continues to be a factor in about one third of all traffic deaths nationally.
Don’t drive distracted – By setting a tough “no distractions” rule for their teens and modeling this same behavior, parents send the message that distracted driving will not be tolerated.
Don’t follow too closely – Parents should keep the proper distance from the car in front of them. Rear end collisions are common and preventable.
Always scan ahead for hazards– Parents should remind their teens to be aware of what is going on around them by scanning to the right and left as they drive
Limit the number of passengers – Research shows young drivers can easily be distracted by just one additional passenger – increasing the risk of a crash exponentially. Many graduated driver’s license programs restrict the number of passengers as a condition of issuing an early license or permit; parents should enforce those restrictions.
Never drink and drive – Parents should remind teens that drinking and driving will not be tolerated.
Ford Driving Skills for Life
In 2013, Ford DSFL is doubling the number of students it reaches with its hands on driving programs to 40,000. This includes visits to at least 40 high schools in Arizona, California, Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia with an array of activities focused on common driving challenges faced by teen drivers. Teens will be able to experience real-world driving situations in a controlled environment using specially equipped vehicles. The hands-on clinics offer professional drivers and activities that build skills in five key areas: driver distraction, speed management, space management, vehicle handling and hazard recognition.
In addition to the hands-on clinics, Ford Driving Skills for Life will reach an additional 150 high schools with its safe driving materials, Web-based learning, partnerships with state highway safety agencies, fun contests and free educational materials for parents and teachers.
About Ford Motor Company Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 171,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visithttp://corporate.ford.com.
About Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services
Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services works with community partners to advance driving safety, education and community life. For more than 60 years, Ford Motor Company Fund has operated with ongoing funding from Ford Motor Company. The award-winning Ford Driving Skills for Life program teaches new drivers through a variety of hands-on and interactive methods. Innovation in education is encouraged through national programs that enhance high school learning and provide college scholarships and university grants. Through the Ford Volunteer Corps, more than 25,000 Ford employees and dealers work on projects each year that better their communities in more than 20 countries. For more information, visitwww.community.ford.com.