Author Archives: aspiros01

Thailand National ICT Resources

Thailand National ICT Resources:

Click here for Thailand’s extensive Master Plan. It is relatively recent and provides the best overall descrpition of where Thailand stands today and the direction in which it hopes to move.

Date:2009

Author: Permanent Secretary of MICT

Language: English

Government Websites:

Thailand’s ICT Ministry does not very accessible on the internet. Check here.

External Websites:

Here is an article about the Smart Plan.

This is a website for Thailand’s ICT (not necessarily ICT4D!) community.

I used the resources provided in class for a lot of statistical information on Thailand’s ICT4D. I recommend this ITU report, as well as this global information report. Thailand’s resources regarding ICTs are quite transparent. The country is certainly working in this realm. Resources are in English. All the best!

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ICT4D Take-Aways

I love learning about people, big ideas and cultures, and was not looking forward to taking a “techy” course. Reflecting back, this might be one of the most useful IDEV courses I have taken because as I have progressed through these years of school I have realized that while the ability to think critically and write stellar papers is lovely, practical skills come in handy too! This class challenged me to rise to the times through the use of the class blog, which unifies the students in the course, Twitter, which is most appropriate for the field of ICT4D and OpenSourceMapping, which was a perfect depiction of a way in which we could actually use ICT to make a bit of a difference.

I now realize that technology (ICTs) do not need to be equated to the fields of computer science, etc. We use them everyday, and so do our grandparents, young students, and people in towns and cities allover the world. Every notion of development entails some use of technology, it is just a matter of identifying what needs to be used. One of my favorite take-aways is that technologies are not necessarily what have the greatest impacts – it is more important how they are used and how they interact with the stakeholders involved. “Sexy” new technologies are usually not going to be the answer. This is where the human-portion comes to play. Who will be using it? For what purpose? Does it really contribute something positive or take away something negative in the beneficiaries’ lives? We must use and work with technologies to best provide what we can, but they should align with local needs and wants.

Another major point of the course for me was how ICT4D projects fail. I love the humbleness of the field. So many passionate individuals with real skills work to create a better future, but do so in a down-to-earth way. I will never forget the example of FailFare… more industries and circles of people should engage in such an event! What better way to learn than to hear firsthand from project leaders what they wish they could have known, done differently, etc.

One small addition to the curriculum could be the use of New Orleans as an example. We all love to call this city our home and know that examples of ICT4D-like projects are abound! Let’s see them, and then we will truly have the opportunity to link technology to development in our own backyards.


Adam Papendieck’s Recommendation of Clay Shirky’s Institutions vs. Collaboration

In class yesterday, guest speaker Adam Papendieck of The Payson Center for International Development spoke of developments in internet and data technology. He spoke of the diffusion of internet, the leapfrog effect, and smartphones, with an emphasis on education and health initiatives in East Africa, where he works. In one of his slides, Adam brought a TED talk video to our attention. Here it is!

The 2005 video is 20 minutes long but worth the watch. The speaker, Clay Shirky, shows us how companies and closed groups will give way to looser networks where small contributors have big roles and fluid cooperation replaces rigid planning. He is a professor at NYU for the graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program and an author who is an expert in networks, peer-to-peer sharing, wireless and open-source development. He is a believer that when ways of media change the sorts of arguments we can have change. How does what Clay Shirky relate to what our guest speaker discussed? How does it tie in with our class?


ICT4D Professional Profile: Jonathan Donner

Linda Raftree’s article is a great resource for delving into the world of ICT4D professionals. In it, Jonathan Donner is mentioned for a debate in his post titled More letters, more problems, which seems to be a very fair response to the debate regarding the term used to describe this field. In this post he concludes that in the multifaceted field that is ICT4D, there should be frequent discussion of improvement. Reflection is key in making the practitioners of the field reflective, careful and precise in how they use terms to describe what they all work to do.

Jonathan Donner currently researches in the Technology for Emerging Markets group at Microsoft Research India, and specifically focuses on economic and social implications of the spread of mobile telephony in developing countries. He is also a visiting academic at the Hasso Plattner Institute for ICT4D Research at the University of Cape Town. His Ph.D was earned at Stanford in Communication Theory and Research, and he has been a post-doctoral research fellow at the Earth Institute at Columbia. His book, Mobile Communication (part of a Digital Media and Society Series) is about how the mobile phone has grown so popular in almost every society on earth, and are very useful tools, especially in the developing world. Additionally, he has a book titled mHealth in Practice. His blog is very pertinent to our ICT4D class and he can be followed as @jcdonner on Twitter.


How Hurricane Sandy Slapped the Sarcasm Out of Twitter

In Twitter’s infancy, it was debated whether or not reporters should break new news out on Twitter. Now that fact just seems silly, as small gems of news went out from many reporters right before Hurricane Sandy. @antderosa from Reuters, @Carvin from NPR and @brianstelter of the NYT were tweeting often and ordinary people relayed all sorts of important information regarding their specific neighborhoods. Users are able to literally watch large spectacles unfold. On Monday, New Yorkers were able to watch a seemingly endless loop of hurricane coverage, and when they realized the storm had some serious potential to harm, Twitter became very busy and very serious. A media expert who said he kept a close eye on the Top 10 Trends at the time revealed that almost all of the top ten trends were about Sandy. Some estimates conclude that there were 3.5 million (hashtags) #Sandy. The journalist here stated that Twitter allows you to feel like you are contributing to something bigger by being able to be up to date and retweet.

While Twitter is a global platform, it can be wonderfully local when needed. One commenter said that Twitter was phenomenally useful in finding out information about how much flooding the Zone A block next to him was having hour by hour. The TV was not even necessary! Of course, some trouble-makers stirred things up by advertising false horrors and creating havoc, and many erroneous pictures spread like wild fires. However, a commenter in this NYT article called Twitter a “pop-up town square.” Have you used Twitter in this way? Do you usually consider online groups and platforms to have characteristics of communities?


Telemedicine in Ethiopia

This article, a resource Professor Ports gave to my “Health in ICT” presentation group, is a good case study on the topic of telemedicine. Telemedicine is defined as a healthcare delivery technology where physicians examine patients from distant locations using information technologies. It has been growing in popularity for many reasons because:

  • there is a clear need/shortage of physicians
  • poor infrastructure of clinics in general and access to them
  • physician communication can be increased

As I mentioned in my sector presentation, sub-saharan Africa has less than 10 doctors per 100,000 people. In Ethiopia, for example, there are only 38 radiologists nation-wide, and 30 of them are in the nation’s capital. The country’s lack of infrastructure makes it difficult to provide healthcare as well, and often times when clinics are set-up in rural areas they are ill-equipped, according to the WHO. Since its inception, telemedicine has been able to reduce costs and provide optimal utilization of the healthcare system in many countries. This case study illuminates how telemedicine has been beneficial for cardiac patients, since they would not need to factor in as many travel costs. Other possible benefits of telemedicine may include:

  •  reduced direct and indirect costs to the healthcare sector, patients and providers
  • enhanced equality among citizens, in terms of access to special medical services
  • improved cooperation between specialized care and primary healthcare centers
  • promote the proficiency of physicians and other healthcare practitioners through ICT trainings and conferences

There are many examples of telemedicine in Ethiopia and have been supported by many international organizations and NGOs. There are many stakeholders involved, including the patients, doctors, universities , IT workers, and government and development workers.

While it is true that telemedicine has made significant contributions to healthcare sector of Ethiopia, many major challenges do exist. There are cultural, economic, organizational and technical issues. One example is that, since there are not many specialists in the country to begin with, they do not have much time to set up these tele-sessions. The technologies might also be difficult for the doctors to use. Other obvious barriers to this method of healthcare include the absence of affordable and reliable telecommunications and the power infrastructure. Internet also costs a good deal of money, and might be delayed. With all of these challenges, there must be a strong commitment in order to make telemedicine more mainstream. In this article’s abstract it was expressed that the universities and higher education have a great role in assisting with these sorts of initiatives. How do you think universities can make lasting contributions to projects such as these? What do envision as the future of telemedicine?


Exploring Mobile-Internet Technology in Rural South Africa

I would like to use this post to discuss cell phone usage among young people in Cape Town, South Africa and respond to an article regarding the introduction of mobile-only internet in rural South Africa. While I studied at The University of Cape Town in 2011 I was surprised by the exclusiveness of those students who possessed blackberries. In Cape Town, I used a little Nokia”esque” brick-like phone and bought airtime for it at local supermarkets or convenience stores which were very close to my house. My South African friends laughed at me for this, as they all were attached to their blackberries, with MMS instead of SMS, and unlimited data for a very low cost.

There are, as we have seen in class, many articles and studies pertaining to mobile phone use. One specific article that struck me was this one, titled “Exploring Mobile-only Internet Use: Results of a Training Study in Urban South Africa” and appeared in the International Journal of Communication. As I mentioned, many young people I associated with in Cape Town used the internet on their handheld, mobile phones. In the case study in the article, using an ethnographic research approach, the studies explored the challenges and practices of using the internet on mobile phones in any area that does not usually have many accesses to many resources. The study gave 8 women (who did not already have personal computers) access to their own mobile phones with internet and exclaimed that, 6 months afterwards, the women stil actively used the mobile phones.

The article explains how mobiles “offer a confluence of portability, personal control, and flexibility that make them appealing, disruptive, and ubiquitous. Many hope that the mobile Internet, if widely used in the Global South, will combine the ubiquity of the handset with data access and will increase the productivity and agency of individuals and organizations. However, concrete evidence remains scarce.” Is this an appropriate technology?

This in-depth article seems to leave out the lens that we have grown to acquire in classes regarding development. Do the individuals the authors are talking of have access to recources for these intricate phones? Is it too complex? Is it sustainable, once the “project” is complete and other individuals wish to adopt these technologies?