Millennium Development Goals and Public Service

As many of the other bloggers this week have stated, our study this week was focused around the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the good and bad seen through their implementation. While all addressing the applications of ICTs in International Development and development theory, Erwin Alampay and Richard Heeks had very different takes on the subject. Erwin Alampay’s article “Beyond Access to ICTs” focused more on the various ways that access to and ability to use ICTs can change from person to person due to differences in human development and individual differences. In his articles “ICTs and the MDGs: On the Wrong Track?” and “The ICT4D 2.0 Manifesto,” Heeks, instead looked at the process of utilizing ICTs to achieve the MDGs, the results of such attempts, and how such efforts can be altered to better apply what has been learned. While I am familiar with the MDGs and have previously read about the access issues related to individual differences, I had not read much before specifically on the usage of ICTs to achieve the MDGs. I found it very interesting to learn of a Development Informatics scholar’s view of such implementation and his opinions on how to better use ICTs in reaching those goals. 

Earlier this week, I read an article by the UNDP about the utilization of technology in the public service sector, as discussed at the UNDP’s Global Centre for Public Service Excellence’s Activate Summit earlier this month. While the article highlights the opinions of Haoliang Xu, the UNDP Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, and examples in Asia, the ideas are applicable to development all over the world. Mr. Xu talks about the potential benefits that the usage of social media and digital technologies could provide to many governments. He emphasized the fact that uneven access and abilities creates disadvantages for some, but various efforts can help groups and societies overcome or cope with such drawbacks. Mr. Xu points out many current e-governance programs across Asia and the Pacific- something that Heeks discusses in his articles- and talks of their successes in reaching people in those nations, especially those in the many remote areas. Lastly, the article mentions the UNDP’s Global Centre’s efforts to promote more interest and production in the area of ICT4D by supporting one of the categories in the summit’s “Tech Talent Competition”- which hopefully produced many new technologies that can better help those in need in developing nations around the world. 

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