<p>In my opinion, there are many important lessons in ICT4D. Technology is becoming increasingly important not only for the globalizing world, but also for developing countries. It is important to note that because we are increasingly connected, countries in the early stages of development need to work with technology to develop in a way that allows them to compete in the globalizing world. One important lesson that seems to be often times overlooked in ICT4D is the importance of sustainability. Thousands of projects that include telecenters and old/not durable technology have failed because they do not take into account the environment and the needs of the people. Programs need to be able to be measurable and compatible with the environment to be sustainable and help the area develop in the long run. There must be a way to measure success to know if these type of projects will help millions of other people.</p><p>This brings me to another point, the needs-based approach lesson of ICT4D. Projects like One Laptop Per Child are not sustainable or helpful because they are not compatible with the skills, resources and technological understanding of the people the project was aimed to help. ICT4D projects need to focus on the capabilities of the people and how to best meet their needs with projects, whether it is the technology used or catering the training sessions/applications to the people who will be using the tools. I think that this important lesson I learned will be extremely helpful in my future. Although I am not planning to focus on ICT4D, the needs-based approach is vital in all aspects of development. Projects and tools need to be catered to the specific population being targeted. Even if I just focus on one successful method of social entrepreneurship, that method needs to be compatible with the people and the environment in which it will be used.</p><p>In the future, it would be really interesting to study more case studies. Specifically, how technology has freely come into areas without ICT4D projects being implemented. Similar to the case study about the fishermen using cell phones in India to increase their income. I think it is really important to study these topics to learn about how technology can benefit certain populations and how to create ICT4D projects from these occurrences.</p>
Tag Archives: ICT4D
Entering this course, I was unsure what I would get out of it. I am not particularly interested in ICT or ICT interventions in development. I think I expected the course to focus mainly on ICT4D projects alone. I am happy to say that I was wrong in this assumption. This course has forced me to think critically about the role ICT plays in every development project. It is important as a hopeful international development professional to consider all aspects of interventions and adjust as appropriate. When living in such a technology dependent and abundant society, it can be easy to take it for granted. Development professional must not only think about what technology a community may need for their own growth, but what technologies the individuals and organizations will need to achieve their goals and complete their project. Perhaps one of the most important lessons is that ICT4D is all encompassing – it is not just an end, but also a means to reach an end. ICT4D means both enhancing and improving access to technology for development, but also using ICT for the successful implementation of all development projects. It was especially interesting for me to take what we learned in class and apply my experiences abroad last semester in Thailand. I found it easier to internalize and think about these big issues and how they manifest in different countries.
I appreciated all the different theoretical frameworks we looked at, because I think it is important to understand how development professional think about development and solutions, as well as formulate our own opinions about the different frameworks, what they mean, and the best way to approach the field. I think that capabilities approach and Human Centered Design are incredibly important and are on the right track to the way development should be approached. With so many failures, it is imperative that we are critical about what works and what doesn’t. Development professionals should also place an emphasis on valuing the local culture, knowledge, tradition, wisdom, and wishes of whatever community they are working with. This helps ensure that projects are successful and appropriate.
In future semesters I think it would be interesting to look at ICT in civil society and how NGOS, non-profits, and civil and social organizations can use ICT in developing countries.
This week’s reading focused on CyberSecurity and the importance of
nationalstrategies. In ITU’s report ITU National Cybersecurity Strategy Guide
written by DoctorFrederick Wamala he discusses the importance that a national
government and securityshould consider when creating their national strategy.
Cyberspace involves all of thesystems connected directly or indirectly to the
Internet while cyber security focuses on thestrategic plan to protect cyberspace
and ensure that the system continues to functionunder a threat.
According to the
guide there are 10 important elements of creating aNational Cybersecurity
Programme.The first item of the list is “Top Government Cybersecurity
Accountability”.According to the guide this element is important for a cyber
security programme has to becross- sectional across a nation. Not solely local
or national but has to cooperate under alllevels of government. They are the
ones accountable for devising a functional plan. Thesecond term on this list is
a coordinator. Like Homeland Security it is crucial that there isan office or
individual who oversees cyber security activities. Thirdly a “National
Cybersecurity Focal Point” meaning the multi- agency body is the focal point for
all of theactivities dealing with protection. Fourthly when creating a
Cybersecurity you need todesign the “Legal Measures” in which a team drafts a
policy and law procedures inresponse cybercrime. Fifth on the list is a
Framework. This is your start of the plan forwhich you state the basic elements
required in a national security. Sixthly, you need todesignate a Computer
Incident Response Team (CIRT) which is a “strategy led programmecontains
incident management capabilities with national responsibility”. They
areresponsible for coordinating responses to the stakeholders. After creating a
team you needto promote awareness and education about cybersecurity. It is
important that the nationknows and understands the importance of cyber threats.
Eighth on the list is a “Public –Private Sector Cybersecurity Partnership” for
which Government agencies shouldcollaborate with private companies such as
google. In order for a security team to be set upyou do however need to train
cybersecurity professionals. Lastly, the government needs toform “International
Cooperation” especially cause most cyber threats come from othercountries and
global cooperation is vital to additional security.If a country follows these
initial guidelines to forming and creating a NationalCybersecurity Programme,
they should soon be able to generate a national strategy planfor which they will
increase security and ensure that their nation’s cyberspace and
privateinformation is never threatened.
I feel that the most salient lessons to be learned in ICT4D is that failure can be a learning curve and that not every society is ready or able to use ICTs in conjunction with a program’s goal. For example when implementing an app for farmers to find where to get the best market prices we, in the US, would think that’s a great idea but when its take not the field it doesn’t work. That is because those farmers have cell phones but not smart phones so they have no way to access the app. Failure is a great way to learn how to do things better the next time and I think that the unit we did on assessing the success of a project was very helpful in making the failure of a project a way to help others attempting to introduce ICT4D project. I also found the research that I did for my sector project to be very salient.
In terms of specific things that I have learned I have found the importance of research and the role of security are two things that I will specifically take away. First, on the topic of research, I learned that there are often large upfront costs related to implementing ICT4D projects. Because of these costs we spoke a lot about the importance of implementing in depth research in order to assess a community’s needs. The research aspect is also incredibly important in terms of providing the correct technologies. For example when looking to start a text message campaign in order to educate new and expecting mothers it is important to assess the literacy levels and then address how to reach those women who are illiterate. The second thing that I specifically learned was the importance security. From my research on the business and industry sector I learned about the importance of cyber security and that it’s essential to attracting foreign investment as well as facilitate international networks and transactions.
This class was very informative and I think that the lessons I spoke of above as well as the theoretical concepts of capacity building and the idea of the first mile are specific ideas that I will be able to implement ICT4D. I will be able to use these and assess other countries’ needs and look at how their national policies about ICTs can be better implemented or changed to better meet the needs of the country.
I have always heard of IT as an abstract concept, something that I believed was reserved for people who had extensive knowledge of computers or circuit boards. Through learning about ICT in the development context, I realized that it is so much broader and more relevant than what I had originally believed. I now am under the impression that ICT4D is one of the most important concepts in developing countries as it can tackle problems in every sector. The ability of ICTs to connect people is especially important as it allows for a greater network of learning and understanding between countries and between people. Especially important as well is the idea of e-governance, as it has the potential to increase transparency, reduce corruption and increase dialogue between citizens and government.
One of the most salient take aways in looking at case studies especially, in addition to reading the Human Centered Design (HCD) framework is the fact that citizen and local input is one of the most important aspect to the successful conjunction of ICTs and populations in the developing world. In looking at what worked throughout the semester, such as farm radio and the cell phone use by fisherman in India, it is clear that it must come in part from pre-existing infrastructure and what is already easily accessible to the people. Farm Radio International was effective because of the prevalence of radios in the areas, which they utilized to their advantage.
I believe that instead of throwing ICTs at the people, there must be at least a dialogue to understand how to best use pre-existing infrastructure to their advantage, in addition to creating dialogues to understand what they need most. As opposed to project implementation such as One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), I think a lesson learnt is that to use ICT4D effectively, it must be implemented using design strategies that consider pre-existing conditions. Merely giving people ICTs and then backing off may be one of the greatest flaws in projects. Using local knowledge could be of the greatest asset. If rural areas hardly have electricity connectivity, how can we attempt to implement Internet? I believe patience may be a virtue, and teaching people how to use the tools they already have access to instead of introducing entirely knew and foreign technology is what ICT4D project should be about.
When I initially took this course, I really had no idea how technology would fit in the field of development. I remember the first class when Professor Ports asked if any of us knew about Information and Communication Technologies and I did not have a clue what she was talking about. I have never considered myself to be a very tech savvy person and my initial thoughts were that concepts from this class wouldn’t prove to be particularly vital. Indeed, I proven wrong. We live in an extremely fast paced world that is driven by continuous technological advancements. The scope of technology and its’ applications extends across all sectors and ultimately, without a grasp on technology, one is unlikely to succeed.
Being exposed to the many real-world applications of ICT4D throughout the course is what really sparked my enthusiasm. I was excited to see course lessons extend beyond the classroom walls and realized that the knowledge and skills gained through this course will be applicable to any career path. It was also this class that solidified my career passions in the humanitarian sector. Specifically, I was inspired by the ICT4D applications in disaster relief and humanitarian aid. I was amazed by the whole idea of crowd sourcing/HOSTOM and its’ ability to function efficiently in a situation when every second counts. In addition, the experience we had working with Geographic Information Systems gave me invaluable skills that will be extremely useful to a career in disaster management. After focusing on the humanitarian sector for my group project, I became really interested in other ICT4D applications that could bring even greater benefit! Any area of ICT4D that I feel deserves more attention is what our class recently covered in regards of cyber security. Its nearly impossible for the appropriate policies and regulations to keep up with technologies fast-pace nature. This leaves a huge gap in cyber security, such as potential for cyber threats, and I think it is crucial that this aspect of ICT4D is addressed as we move forward. We’ve seen endless examples of ICT4D applications bringing great benefit to the people and overall development , from advocating for human rights, ending corruption, to e-medicine, and I’m excited for what the future of ICT4D holds.
I feel that there are many lessons to be learned in ICT4D both through practice and innovation that comes naturally with time. ICT4D by nature is a field that is always changing but I feel that there are some salient lessons that are realtively constant.
1). Make sure that the goal of your project aligns the needs of the people who will be effected by it and that they want it. It is crucial to a project that the community wants it, can use it, and that they have the infrastructure to maintain it. No matter how great an idea is a community will not adopt or maintain a project if they do not agree to it, it strains them, or they do not have the correct skills.
2). Pilots are important. Another factors that can greatly impede a project is if the actual hardware is faulty or does not work according to plan. This links with my previous point that if someone cannot use something since it strains them they will not. This could be if something is hard to charge, breaks easily, or is not viable for the environment of the community.
3). ICT4D is important as is innovation but sometimes simpler is better. User interface issues are pretty prevalent and so easy to prevent. Many times it is easy to forget that not everyone is as comfortable with technology both physically and culturally as we are in developed nations. Having simpler ICT’s can sometimes be not only cheaper but also more effective (like the radio!)
All these lessons are very much linked together and reflect on the core nature of ICT4D and development…it is for the people and they should be the primary thought. An example that incorporates these three lessons is the XO laptops. This project failed (in my opinion and many others) even though it had a great core idea. The company did not pilot it nerarly enough, they did not manufature it well so it strained the users, and it was slightly complciated to the extent that it took our class 5-10 minutes to even pry one open!
After taking this class I learned many things but something that stood out to be was the way one can use different lenses to look at different situation and problems. Many problems do not have one sole root and can be seen impeded by cultural, social, economic, and political differences. During the country case studies I studied South Africa and I feel that this country is a great example of this thought. South Africa is a dynmaic country full of potential that is special in a sense since its extremes. Some cities like Cape Town are very technology savvy and other more rural parts are extremely not. This also showed me that things like language differences and cultural practices can be a big issue for ICT4D. Many communities and groups have specific customs and could see some techniques and technologies as insulting or opposing to them.
I feel that a really useful framework that we have talked about in class that can be used to think about and implement ICT4D is the HCD process. This also circles back to my lessons as “hear, create, deliver” simplifies the core idea. Organizations must make sure they know what the community or people want, create it and do it well, then deliver it and make sure that it is sustainable. This is a great framework and could loosely fit with most organizations and projects as long as the steps are done properly.
All in all ICT4D (the class) was quite interesting and I learned a lot about a sector that I too feel is the future of development. It would have been cool though to learn more about cyber security and how developing nations are transitioning into developed nations in relation to technology and the growing cyber sphere. I wonder how governments can control the cyber sphere while trying to keep the economic and social sphere stable.This is a question I feel our class and other classes would have enjoyed finding the answer.
Core lessons in ICT4D
I think that the most important lesson we learned this semester throughout this course was best practices. I feel that all of the case studies we looked at were diverse in: problems the projects addressed, geographical regions, and ways it incorporated ICTs in the program. However, one key similarity between all of these case studies was that they demonstrated the best [either through example or through mistakes] ways to incorporate ICTs in development projects. It illustrates the fact that, no matter what type of development work you do, certain concepts are universal, such as: incorporating the population in decision making, gathering research and data on the population, and coming up with a good monitoring and evaluation system to have check points.
Personal Lessons Learned
I think on the personal level, alongside learning about best practices, I learned the most through the short papers that we wrote this semester. We had to focus on one country and both analyze ICTs and their national capacity, along with come up with our own solutions to problems we saw. I focused on the health sector and Egypt. I think that it was a challenging assignment because I learned how data collection works, and the issues that can arise through data collection. Having to come up with our own solutions made us think critically of real life issues that are happening right now in the developing world and ways to incorporate ICTs to solve them. These are two skills that I hopefully will continue to take with me as I further my education and pursue a career in development. The most useful theoretical framework that will help me accomplish this is the IDEO Human Centered Design Toolkit. This work basically gives you the framework you need to design your own project that focuses on incorporating the ideas of the target population. It is definitely a kit that I plan to use for any project I wish to create.