Author Archives: charris7

Mongolia: National ICT Resources

1) National ICT Policies: Mongolia : (2003, last update; American University graduate student; English)

2) Government of Mongolia: Information, Communications Technology, and Post Authority : (2011; English)

3) External Sites:

World Summit on the Information Society

The Global Information Technology Report 2012

ITU Measuring the Information Society

4) Fortunately, it was rather easier finding the information due to the fact that Mongolia has a government sector dedicated to ICT resources/policies. There were not many external sites that I used for their National ICT Policies, but further down the road I found many specific projects occurring within the country, so I was not scrounging for information.

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Conclusion

Going into this class, I really had no idea what to expect. However- I came out with a comprehensive understanding to the concept and field of ICT4D. One of the most beneficials and highlights of this class for me was the specific country studies. I found it very valuable to continue studying the same country and really get a grasp on the National ICT policies, innovations occurring in chosen country, what was working/not working, international organizations & their involvement, overall usage/possession/accessibility statistics, and further case studies. Prior to this continuing “project” I did not realize how much went into such a field and how vital of a part it played in development. I actually wish that perhaps instead of dividing up into our sector groups, that we had taken 2 class period to let everyone do a 5 minute presentation on their chosen country. I believe that this would have been much more beneficial and more interesting. The sector presentation and group project seemed to be so broadly focused, I didn’t obtain that much information from it. Learning about individual countries, especially the going-ons in the developing world would have been so much more valuable.

It was moreso a surprise to me to learn that in many ways technology (depend on the usage and implementation) is not always for the better. Reading the critiques and gaining knowledge on how many (seemingly successful projects) failed, was enlightening. For example, the OLPC project would have seemed like a great idea to me upfront, until we delved deeper into the study. It is important to understand the amount of training and education needed to actually implement a successful project. As quickly as our world is moving in the direction of advanced technologies, this class was relatable, useful, and interesting. The lessons and speakers were always different and never repetitive. The mapping project was very difficult and to me it seemed as if I had made more of a mess with things than helped…but, in perspective the broader concept of using a map/technology (that was frequently discussed) to help with humanitarian crisis,etc. is worthwhile. I take many things away from this class!


Carbon and the Cloud

Why should you use cloud computing?

Well, prior to Thursday’s class, I honestly had no idea what cloud computing was. And, I am still a little confused: but after more research I assumed this to be the best explanation: Instead of installing software onto your computer, software applications are delivered as a service through the Internet. Cloud computing is an Internet based approach on “Software as a Service” (SaaS). Another interesting fact that I learned was this : Cloud computing takes less resources to operate (reducing IT costs and centralizing information) and is able to efficiently report carbon emissions. It offers an advantage over traditional software in “environmental enterprise resource planning,” through providing improved data management and performance and lowering costs. It is easier to achieve and record environmental, health, and safety requirements for the tech world with the cloud!

Another 5 reasons to use cloud computing:

1) Cloud computing saves time: less time & resources spent on dealing with software maintenance and support to ensure IT systems work

2) Cuts costs: customer does not have to purchase or install hardware/operating systems/databases/servers/system software

3) Cloud computing is on-demand and up-to-date: cloud computing providers are responsible for upgrading the software.. .the maintenance/updates occurs automatically

4) Offers security and scalability: ex. full data encryption, advanced virus protection, etc.

5) Delivers greater understanding of collected data: ex. allows for the ability to create a carbon, energy, or sustainability index for an industry, and then one can compare performance with other industries.

I got most of this information from an information blog post: GreenBiz

 

 


Cybersecurity, Petraeus, and Privacy

While our informative guest speaker was discussing cybersecurity last Thursday, I began to wonder what OTHER measures we could take to retain our privacy. Considering the recent incident involving CIA chief Petraeus, I found a plethora of articles regarding cybersecurity.

So, what measures could be taken to ensure our privacy (and that the CIA chief could have considered when trying to mask his relationship)?

1) Keep in mind the location you are using…try using tools that allow for anonymous web browsing.

2) Encrypt your messages

3) Use features such as 10-minute mail, which allows users to open an email address and send emails…only for the address to be destroyed 10 minutes later.

Alright- so, probably none of this advice applies to us because we do not have such sensitive information to hide…but, the point that I am trying to make is- do we really have to go to such lengths to keep ourselves private? It truly is mind-boggling the steps we must take.

And just how easy is it for the government to obtain information?

“Under the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a warrant is not required for e-mails six months old or older. Even if e-mails are more recent, the federal government needs a search warrant only for “unopened” e-mail, according to the Department of Justice’s manual for electronic searches. The rest requires only a subpoena. Google reported that United States law enforcement agencies requested data for 16,281 accounts from January to June of this year, and it complied in 90 percent of cases.” (NYT)

Even President Obama states that  “cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation” and that “America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity.”

For more information and to see the sources I used, click on NYTIMES and White_House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Google Crisis Response and Hurricane Sandy

As we all know, social media played a huge role in preparing/educating the public for Hurricane Sandy. After doing a little more research, I found out about a feature on Google called Google Crisis Response. Google Crisis Response makes information regarding natural disasters and humanitarian crises more accessible. For example, the Crisis Response features satellite imagery of the disaster area, outreach, Google Person Finder, and other programs created with the intent of organizing disaster response resources and information. Not only is this feature (Crisis Response) available in the US, but it is also available worldwide in many different languages. I was particularly intrigued and impressed with the Person Finder- a web application used to ‘connect friends and loved ones following a disaster.’  The Crisis Map is used to display the storm paths, shelter locations, and power outages (just to include a few). All of the Crisis Response applications/features seem very beneficial for aiding those affected by a natural disaster. For Hurricane Sandy, I found their Crisis Map for “Superstorm Sandy.” The Crisis Map included a special NYC map and a more main map encompassing a broader area. Gas Stations were an especially important feature on the maps- as the map indicated via legends whether or not gas was available/ inventory was low/ or completely out. It also had legends for shelter and recovery centers (Red Cross, FEMA, etc). The map included many other things as well, please click on this link to check it out yourself!

Crisis Map_Sandy


Farm Radio: Rural/Agriculture Sector

For our sector presentation, I researched an interesting ongoing project called Farm Radio. Farm Radio is great because the majority of people in Africa, especially rural farmers, do not have access or means to TV/Internet. However, a great number possess a radio. By means of communication via radio, Farm Radio aims “to provide and exchange practical, relevant and timely information for use by our broadcasting partners (community, public and private radio stations, farmers associations, productions houses)” and also to “enhance the ability of our broadcasting partners to serve the interests of small-scale farmers and their communities and to ensure food security.” I think that this is a great example because all solutions to problems/improving situations with technology don’t always have to be expensive. . .by utilizing something that everyone already has, a great initiative could be started.  Access to radio is significantly easier, and radio has low production costs.76% of farmers in Africa have access to a radio.

For informative YouTube videos on how the process actually works (sharing of farming techniques for example…) see the follow


Mobile Phones and Disaster Resilience in Nepal

While researching, I found an interesting Case Study: “Using Mobile Phones to Reduce the Adversities of Climate Change in Rural Nepal.” The study was regarding a disaster risk reduction project put on by Practical Action in Nepal and supported by the Department of International Development (UK). The project focused on the rural communities in South-Central Nepal where villagers primarily rely on agriculture as means of subsistence. However, due to a lack of technical means, their agricultural outputs were very limited. Reports of climate change started occurring in the area, such as greater precipitation and higher temperatures. This was especially concerning because the area already has poor geographical features that are prone to flooding.

Moving forward, the project planned to involve the use of mobile phones to reduce certain vulnerabilities prompted by the potential climate change, and to improve the livelihoods of the village agriculturalists. One of the project features was a phone-based early warning system that allowed upstream and downstream communities to effectively communicate information on flood signs. A phone list of main contacts in both the upstream and downstream communities was provided to enact this system. So, when there was heavy rain, those contacts living upstream could call and warn those in the downstream communities. Because of this early communication, the downstream communities could evacuate their livestock, property and family in time before the flooding arrived. The downstream community contacts were also warned about landslides. Another feature of the project was that it developed a list of service providers and traders with whom the farmers could engage with (via mobile phone) and gain useful agricultural and value chain information.

In terms of weighing the pros and cons of the project, it should be noted that the project did not pay for the mobile phones or the call charges. I suppose this comes with a restrictive budget, but to be even more successful I would imagine a reduced cost on purchasing the actual phones could be an incentive for ALL villagers to participate. Another challenge was seen in the fact that most of the users were very unfamiliar with the mobile phones, and get acquainted with their new phones took time. The actual case study itself coined the project a success. For example, risk of life and other losses from flooding decreased; increases in income were seen; and, livelihoods were strengthened. I think that this project is a great example as to how rural agricultural ICT projects can help with disaster preparedness!

Access to this case study and learn more about ICT’s and Climate Change go to NICCD.