Measuring ICT Development

A lot of the indicators that we looked at in the different reports including, the ITU Measuring Info Society, the UN ICT Task Force, the World Economic Forum Global Information Technology Report, and the Economist Intelligence Unit Digital Economy Rankings all have different ways to classify the changes in ICT development. Since there is no universal way to measure ICT usage it is impossible to measure ICT development. This directly relates to what we are discussing in class because when discussing how ICTs can impact development, and looking at the development in different countries, there needs to be a universal way to classify and measure ICT development. Without a universal way to measure ICT development and ICT usage, it is impossible to compare countries ICT capacities. Similarly, without a universal way to measure ICT usage and development there is no way to clearly quantify the progress or changes a country has made.

In this class we are looking at technological capabilities of different countries and looking at how technology can be used for development. Without a universal indicator how will we really be able to compare the different progress between countries? We can’t decipher how technology can help a country or improve development if there is no clear way to measure the technological capabilities. The international community or UN body, needs to decide the best ways to measure ICT usage. This can be either subscribers or users or even by the amount of cell towers that a country has. By creating a solid definition, we then will be able to compare ICT usage of different nations in a way where they are being measured in the same way. If nations don’t know exactly what they need to report, then all of the reports will be different.

The report that has come closest with measuring ICT development is the World Economic Forum Global Information Technology Report. This is because the way they calculated the rankings was the most comprehensive. The report consists of 10 different pillars, each with at least 4 sub pillars. However, the problem with this ranking system is that the majority of the information in this report is provided by each individual country. For example, one of the sub pillars is the number of individuals using the internet. Since there is not a clear definition of what this means (whether it means subscriptions, or accounts, or households etc.) how is indicator properly showing which countries have better developed ICTs? Every country could be using a different set of criteria to calculate these numbers, and this is where the inherent problem lies.

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2 responses to “Measuring ICT Development

  • emcdona1

    This class is my first interaction with ICT in developing nations, and I already can see how the lack of steady indicators is a problem. It is impossible to see progress being made without having a universal way to measure ICT usage. It was bothersome to see groupings of regions on the reports that were in no way similar. It is also confusing to report ICT data on entire continents when countries differ so much from one another. I can already see this being a problem with research for our class projects, so I cannot even imagine how much of a problem it poses to people working with ICT development every day.

  • briannasteinmetz

    After reading the UN ICT Task Force article, I was very surprised at how little uniformity there is when discussing ICT indicators. I just assumed that someone would have created universal definitions and surveys to determine ICT usage; however, in reality, there is no one person that can do this. Researching for my country paper, I have begun to understand just how difficult it is to interpret the statistics. Finding the statistics is easy, but it is difficult to determine what the statistics are actually saying about your country. How can you determine the degrees of progress or potential improvements if the ICT indicators are lacking?

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