Fellow Profile: Nihal Mirpuri

| MSNY Staff

Nihal-Mirpuri_MSNYWhere are you from? I was born in Singapore, but I’ve been living out of the country my whole life. I’ve lived in places like Indonesia, Malaysia and the UK.

School/grade/major: I’m currently an undergrad doing B-Sci (Major in Computer Science) in The University of Melbourne, Australia.

Last thing you searched on Bing: “Vintage fire hydrants” to add to my hydrant blog

Why did you choose Microsoft’s Fellowship program? I’ve been passionate about two things my whole life: technology and helping others. By high school I had re-purposed a spare room in our house, and brought in dozens of broken computers from all over the city. I would repair them and build new computers from the parts, and gift them back to orphanages around the city. Little did I know that this would be my first few steps towards finding my passion, and there is no better place than Microsoft to share my love for technology and to empower others around me.

What’s your biggest tech goal for 2016? Personally I’m hoping to see 2016 as the year where we start to use IoT to make our environment and urban infrastructure more responsive and efficient. We shouldn’t have to wait for a 911 call to know that shots were fired in the vicinity, we shouldn’t have to inspect every fire hydrant in the district every 6 months. These can all be automated using IoT devices.

What issues are you most passionate about? I’m most passionate about tackling climate change, breaking down communication barriers across cities, and reducing the gender gap in STEM.

Who is your civic tech mentor? John Paul Farmer

What projects are you working on for your position as tech fellow for Microsoft New York? Currently I’m working on civicgraph.io, a visualization tool for individuals and organizations in the civic tech scene. Other projects include using real-time bus data to reduce the number of accidents on our roads, and building a crisis ‘stack’ (technology speak for a set of programs) for disaster response with developers in Kenya.

What excites you about civic tech? Civic Tech is at an intersection that not many other fields get to explore: Where almost every skill set is required to solve problems that pertain to all aspects of life. What excites me the most is working with people with such diverse backgrounds, from geographers to designers to entrepreneurs.

What’s one problem you hope civic tech will solve for cities? Kind of a moonshot, but I’m hoping that one day every child in all parts of the world will have the same opportunities offered to them, regardless of geographical location or family background. I want to see a child in Ethiopia have a voice and be given the opportunity to get the same education, and offered the same jobs as somebody who’s born in Manhattan.

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