Author Archives: ewaller11

Argentina National ICT Resources

Argentina National ICT Resources

Notes: Using Argentina as your country can be very challenging sometimes. I would definitely recommend having background knowledge of Spanish because most websites for the government branches that deal with ICT are entirely in Spanish. Additionally, Argentina does not have an updated National ICT Policy, therefore, most of your sources will be non-governmental overviews of the current ICT situation in the country.

 

Argentina does not have a current National ICT Policy. This link (briefly) discusses the outdated National Program for the Information Society.

Title: Analysis of the national ICT policies of Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Mexico by the Author: the FORESTA Project (non-governmental source)

http://www.forestaproject.eu/site2/results/readEbook/10

Last updated: September, 2012

Language: English

 

Because of the outdated/lack of policy, there are no sources regarding its implementation. The following link is related to the ICT centered governmental organization, FONTAR, which funds and implements innovative ICT projects.

Title: Fondo Tecnologico Argentino

Author: Agencia Nacional de Promocion Cientifica y Tecnologica (governmental source)

http://www.agencia.gov.ar/spip.php?article239

Last updated: Not available

Language: Spanish (can be read in English through Google Translate)

 

The following link includes a great general overview of different governmental organizations and general trends in the ICT sector of Argentina, including international relations in terms of ICT cooperation, it is good for answering WSIS Action Items. Also includes discussion of the government’s “White Book of ICT Prospective, Project 2020” outlining their priorities for the future of ICT.

Title: Status of ICT policy development: Country Report Argentina

Author: Promotion of an ICT Dialogue between Europe and America Latina (non-governmental source)

http://www.pro-ideal.eu/drupal/sites/default/files/D5.1_Status_of_ICT_policy_development_Country_report_Argentina.pdf

Last updated: April, 2011

Language: English

 

The International Telecommunications Union briefly discusses Argentina’s e-government initiatives in regards to WSIS Action Item 7, ICT applications.

Title: ITU’s National e-Strategies for Development

Author: International Telecommunications Union (non-governmental source)

http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/cyb/app/docs/National_estrategies_for_development_2010.pdf

Last updated: 2010

Language: English

 

This report provides the Network Readiness Index score for Argentina (and other countries), as well as an in-depth breakdown of that score. It is great for comparing and contrasting Argentina to other countries.

Title: The Global Information Technology Report 2012

Author: World Economic Forum (non-governmental source)

http://www.weforum.org/reports/global-information-technology-report-2012

Last updated: 2012

Language: English

 

The following EIU report was really only useful for the numerical score breakdown of the Digital Economy Score. It was good for comparing and contrasting Argentina to its neighbors.

Title: Digital Economy Rankings 2010

Author: Economist Intelligence Unit (non-governmental source)

http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/gbs/bus/html/ibv-digitaleconomy2010.html?cntxt=a1000055

Last updated: 2010

Language: English

 

This report was very helpful in highlighting the gap between rural and urban provinces. It also has information on One Laptop Per Child in Argentina, Broadcasting Law, and ICT stakeholders.

Title: Country Report: Argentina [written for the Global Information Society Watch]

Author: Nodo Tau [a civil organization, based in Argentina, which seeks to get everyone in Argentina “connected”] (non-governmental source)

http://www.giswatch.org/en/country-report/civil-society-participation/argentina

Last updated: 2007

Language: English

 

This link is not really that useful in the overall paper but it is good at addressing some WSIS Action Items. It talks about Argentina’s recent struggles with increased government censorship of the media.

Title: Freedom of the Press 2011-Argentina

Author: Freedom House (non-governmental source)

http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2011/argentina

Last updated: 2011

Language: English


The Importance of Incorporating Local Knowledge

This ICT4D course has opened my eyes to many aspects of development that I was not previously aware of. What I found the most interesting was the ways in which the technology I use everyday (and take for granted) can impact, for example, how a woman in rural Kenya locates clean water. Throughout this course, I have noticed one overarching trend – the importance of incorporating local knowledge. Any and all successful projects myself or the class have looked into, all had used pre-existing social networks or ways of communicating and simply adapted a technology to make this more productive. This also makes implementation significantly easier. By expanding on local knowledge, it will cut back on the amount of time needed to train the population to use new technologies. For example, in Argentina there was a system of handheld computers developed to help farmers better track their cattle. This did not require the project implementers to teach local farmers how to track cattle, just to do it in a more efficient way.

In conjunction with capitalizing on local knowledge was the concept of a bottom-up approach. It was something I had never really considered in-depth, but various readings in class opened my eyes to the common assumption that all rural peoples in developing countries only wanted technology to show them where to find food, water, etc. This condescending belief also tied into how technology and information was disseminated into a population. Using means such as the TV and radio, non-participatory and one-sided, for information broadcasting was not usually the best approach. Developing a method in which the content was adapted through local channels, and allowed for the more open discussion, adaption, and feedback created the more sustainable and well-recieved projects. The knowledge I have gained from this course will undoubtedly help me in my future career in development.

Overall, I found the class to be a great overview of ICT4D. I had never heard of a majority of the new technologies that were being employed in the development sector (web mapping, Text4Health, just to name a few). For future classes, I think more focus on the sectors would be beneficial. They encompass a majority of ICT4D aspects, problems, and have myriad relevant case studies. Also additional emphasis on case studies would be helpful because, personally, I don’t think there’s a better way to fully understand how ICT4D impacts (or fails to impact) various development challenges then to see them in action.

 


Water for People

Access to clean, safe drinking water is a basic human right – one that still presents a challenge for developing countries. Water for People has found an ICT solution to making sure governments have the correct information and resources to supply safe drinking water. $80 handheld computers allow “organizations an integrated way to collect, analyze and report monitoring data regarding the condition of water and sanitation projects.” The handheld device software allows for data collection through GPS and cameras, and visual mapping software through Google Maps/Earth. Currently it is used mostly to track locations and conditions of water pumps.

Here’s an example of the what the dashboard looks like when viewing the Southern end of Malawi.

 

So far, the Water for People technology is being used in over 17 countries including Nepal, Uganda, and Peru. I think because this program is so universally applicable it will be very succesful. It was only started in 2010, and it already widely used.The fact that the handheld only costs $80 is a very affordable for a government’s budget. The software is also easy to use and is straight forward. This project will be sustainable because there is a universal need for access to clean water. The only potential drawback would be that the handheld needs proper cell phone signal to function, which might not always be available.

Water for People


Niall Winters’ response to Erik Hersman

Erik Hersman’s “The Subtle Condescension of ICT4D” makes many controversial points. Niall Winters’ blog seeks to answer some of his rhetorically phrased questions.

  1. Hersman questioned whether an ICT4D project in America would still be considered “4D.” Winter argues that “development” applies more to a region then a specific country. There is more emphasis on the socio-economic and cultural aspects then location.
  2. Winter agrees with Hersman’s point that Africa is ready to be treated like a business in the sense of encouraging African innovation and expertise.
  3. Although Hersman’s point regarding the lack of sustainability is valid, Winter states that no project’s initial intent is to be unsustainable.
  4. In terms of classifying ICT4D projects as such, Winters claims we must look to those who are being targeted. If the group is marginalized, and the project seeks to lessen this marginalization, then it is ICT4D. On the other hand, an innovative app or technology in a developing country does not automatically qualify as ICT4D.
  5. I think Winter’s best point comes when she is answering: “Is ICT4D basically branding for emerging market tech?” ICT4D deals with much more then just the technological innovation side. ICT4D is the implementation of these technologies to a broader cultural, economic and political context.

Although originally I thought Hersman made some good, albeit slightly controversial points, I also enjoyed reading Winters’ critique. She raised many interesting points especially regarding terminology. For example, ICT4$ really is just the same thing as any other ICT start up. Both Hersman and Winter’s articles point to the need for a more congruent classification system for ICT4D projects. These new definitions/classifications would need to attempt to be as “large-canvasing” as possible in order to avoid being condescending. I’d definitely recommend people check out Winters’ blog, especially if they are interested by how education can be improved through the use of technologies (more specifically in Africa). I liked her critical stance on how Apple could be doing so much more as far as education innovation is concerned. Also, in another post, she attempts to further define ICT4D by exploring the meaning of “4.”


“The Zapatista Effect”

This week, we read an interesting article on the role of ICT’s in political change. “The Zapatista Effect,” by Mark

Gelsomino, shows how marginalized communities, especially those living in “ICT poverty,” are affected by oppressive government’s monopoly on the political process. The article focuses mainly on the Zapatista Army from Chiapas, Mexico. In 1994, the adoption of the North American Free Trade Agreement spurred this group into armed rebellion. The Mexican

“anyone can be a Zapatista”

government quickly crushed the anti-globalization rebels. The Zapatista cause was not staunchly anti-globalization. They were in favor of global trade, just one that included marginalized communities such as the farmers of Chiapas. They advocated for land reform and redistribution, as well as improved socioeconomic conditions for the indigenous people of Mexico – an ignored issue.

The Zapatistas knew that they couldn’t win a traditional war, so they turned to internet and public opinion. Marcos, the spokesperson/leader of the movement employed several tactics:

  1. He was always displayed in Che Guerva mask, thereby masking his own identity and showing that “anyone” could be a Zapatista.
  2. Marcos was never pictured carrying weapons, only a cell phone because of their adopted slogan: “Our weapons are words.”
  3. Marcos often carried a lantern, symbolic for “bringing light to the situation in Chiapas.”

How was ICT so successful in helping the Zapatista guerilla movement?

  1. ICT is more accessible then corporate news media
  2. Information shared through the internet is not easily censored
  3. Information can come from multiple sources/authors, making it nearly impossible to silence the group as a whole
  4. Alliance building capacity: Zapatista websites and list servs were able to foster connections with other marginalized indigenous groups, NGO’s, celebrities, and international news media

Marcos

Although the Zapatista s weren’t able to make Chiapas an autonomous state, many still view their strategy shift to ICT a huge accomplishment. “The Zapatista Effect successfully shifted the balance of power from traditional media authors to the audience.” I think that by making the flow of information more participatory, you create discourse. I found this article to be very interesting because it ties in well to the news article about Assad. Syrian rebels should continue to employ their Zapatista-like strategy, therefore continuing their “popularity” with international media. I wish the article had touched more on where the Zapatista movement is today.


Energy and Environment: Solar Power Technology

The environment and energy sector of ICT development often runs into many problems associated with unreliable and inconsistent power supplies, which hinder the ability for many technologies to function successfully. Solar power technology is a great alternative to extensive national power grids and fossil fuel-based energy sources. The Earth receives more light-generated solar power in an hour then humans could use in a year. There are two different types of solar energy. Solar thermal energy collection, which uses the heat from the sun, and photovoltaic energy, which comes from the conversion of sunlight into power (associated with the solar panels that people are most familiar with). Despite the sustainable and “green” benefits, solar power remains an underutilized option due to it being more expensive than traditional fossil fuel-based alternatives. However, solar power will soon become a more common option as innovations lower the price and the cost of fossil fuels continue to rise.

No one doubts the importance of emphasizing green technologies in order to reduce our overall impact as far as greenhouse gas emissions are concerned. However, there are also many benefits to ICT and its energy and environment sector. As this article points out, solar wifi, solar phones, and solar radios are all technologies that have been implemented in developing countries. Solar wifi has been installed in Panama and Senegal, Solar phones have been distributed in Haiti, New Guinea, and Kenya, and Solar radio has been used by engineers in Peru to support the development of health services (check out their work, here). Despite all the ICT benefits of solar energy, there is, of course, the basic improvement in quality of life. 1.5 billion people have no access to electricity, and “for these people, even access to a small amount of electricity could lead to life-saving improvements in agricultural productivity, health, education, communications and access to clean water.”

A large majority of the 1.5 billion people without electricity lives in Sub-Saharan Africa. As the picture shows, they would greatly benefit from the implementation of solar power


The World Bank: Capturing Technology for Development

In 2011, The World Bank had a group of independent evaluators compile a comprehensive report on the growth of ICT Access in developing countries via interventions by the World Bank. The report notes that although mobile phone technology has been instrumental in ICT development in poorer countries, other technologies (internet, connectivity in general) have been neglected. This neglect has led to an ever widening digital divide. Throughout the last decade, the World Bank has been the largest financial backer of ICT projects. Their overall strategy has been to focus on “support for sector reform, increasing access to information infrastructure, and developing ICT skills and applications.” However, part of this report details areas in which the World Bank should focus more attention. These are just a couple of examples:

  1. Place more emphasis on technologies that support broadband and internet access by supporting investments that seek to build up national infrastructure
  2. Further utilize the growing worldwide mobile network to update data in real-time.
  3. Sponsor more programs that relate to the development of ICT skills by the local populations

The report also details their rationale behind past interventions and successes and failures of other programs. It is a very complete look at their failures, their overall mission, their current strategies and why they feel it is time to refocus. I believe it is a great resource for many different people. For example, someone looking to receive funding from the World Bank could tailor their projects around one of their new strategy objectives. Additionally, another person who is planning an ICT project can look at some of the World Bank’s experiences with similar projects because they are involved all over the globe with a myriad of different cultures and situations.

chart from the World Bank report, showing the disproportionally large number of mobile subscribers compared to internet, broadband, and landline phones

Link to the full report 


Do Text Messaging Interventions Affect Vaccination Rates?

There are many benefits to increasing the national average of vaccinations, especially for influenza. Influenza results in high costs medically via outpatient appointment and hospitalizations, and also high indirect costs, such as days of work lost due to illness. Nationally, influenza vaccinations rates are quite low. However, low-incomes families tend to have even lower vaccination rates. During the 2010-2011 influenza season, a randomized controlled trial was developed to test whether text message vaccination reminders to parents of low-income families would increase the likelihood that their children would get vaccinated. Children and adolescents were targeted because they tend to transmit influenza “to those at highest risk for severe disease,” however, the parents of the children would be the ones receiving the text message reminders. The primary analysis group was made up of predominately low-income and minority families. The parents received 5 weekly, automated texts in their native language (either English or Spanish). The first 3 messages addressed myths about vaccinations, vaccination safety, and reminded the parents of the severity of influenza. The last 2 messages gave the dates for Saturday vaccination clinics.

Pros:

  1. 43.6% of children in the group that received the text reminders were vaccinated as opposed to the 39.9% who received the traditional landline or mail reminders
  2. The text message system could be linked up to pre-exisiting immunization databases such as EzVac.
  3. Text messaging is extremely cost effective. More then 23,000 messages were sent during the study for only $165.
  4. Text messaging is more reliable because cell phone numbers tend to be more stable then home addresses or landline numbers. Additionally, text messaging is better for more urgent notifications because it is sent/received immediately.

Cons:

  1. This study did not address “competing priorities and barriers” to vaccinations. This could range any where from lack of funds to busy parent work schedules. Addressing these other issues could raise costs.
  2. Due to the randomization of the sample, parents with multiple children could have had one child in the intervention group while the other was not, therefore the child outside the intervention group may have received a vaccine when he or she otherwise would not have.
  3. The study targeted a low income, urban community. Therefore, the results may not be applicable to other communities or demographics.
  4. Due to overcrowding concerns at the clinics, not every family was alerted of every clinic date. This could have led to underestimated effects of the text message reminders.

Overall, I believe that text message reminders do, in fact, help parents remember to get their children vaccinated. I also think that addressing misconceptions and stereotypes about vaccinations in the first three text messages was very key. However, I do think that this study was very simplistic and left many variables unaddressed. For example, I think a study should look into the role that schools play in vaccination rates. School is where the target population of children and adolescents spend most of their time. Therefore, school boards should take a more vested interest in offering vaccination schedules during school hours because I would imagine that most of these low-income parents do not have many free Saturdays to take their children to the free clinics. Additionally, the school would save lost wages for teachers who need to take sick days due to an influenza outbreak among students. Perhaps there could be a program that requires all students to be vaccinated at school unless specifically instructed otherwise by a parent.

Sources:

Kharbanda et. al, Text4Health 

Stockwell et. al, Text4Health


Satellite Technology: a growing alternative

The Unwin reading pointed out that satellites are quickly becoming a large part of connectivity around the world, especially in developing countries. Satellites are a good alternative to providing connectivity to rural populations, instead of building a lengthy cable-based infrastructure. However, satellites can also be an expensive option, especially in their development and the subsequent launching. Despite this, there are major benefits of using satellite technology: reception is possible with a small antennae, connection can be established almost instantaneously (without wires), consumer equipment is generally inexpensive, and Internet, tv and radio can all be provided through satellite (Unwin, 97).

In conjunction with Unwin’s points, this article outlines the reasons, and problems, faced by developing nations who are becoming increasingly involved with satellite technology. The main focus of these countries is to rely less on externally collected data and build up their own individual capacities. These countries are “seeking more control over remote-sensing data to map and forecast disasters, monitor crop yields and track environmentally driven diseases such as malaria,” among many other things. This article points out how, in recent decades, companies and universities began attempting to make satellites cheaper and smaller (around 10-30,000 dollars). Today, the main company located in England, has offered training to countries such as Nigeria and Algeria. They educate the engineers from the developing countries who, in turn, return home and educate more people. For example, since the training, South Korea has created its own satellite program and now teaches other developing countries in the region. Innovations such as the “cheap” satellite, and the training offered in England, will help build up the human capacity as well as the technical capacity of these developing nations.

The article also points out that countries adopting satellite technologies will face many technical and social debates. For example, they will decide what they would like to measure which will dictate what kind of technology they will need to develop. Additionally, these countries may choose to partner with neighboring regions or developed countries in order to receive training or share knowledge.

I believe that satellites are the future of ICT technology. As innovations make them increasingly affordable, more people living in rural regions will have access to connectivity. In addition, building the human and technical capacity of a country will allow it to become a player in the global economy. It will also increase interconnectivity between countries and regions, which I personally think helps create a more prosperous and cooperative world.

a satellite in a remote Sudanese region


“Women’s Voice” – Kenya (from the Connecting the First Mile reading)

The “Women’s Voices” program sought out women living in very poor, but urban areas. The programs organizers wanted to see what these women had to say about certain political policies that effected them, and how they would go about communicating these views to policy makers. The urban areas where the women were living were densely packed slums with homes made from very crude materials. There is a lack of basic necessities, such as power and drainage, while AIDs and crime are rampant. ICT’s represent the best opportunities for these women to communicate their needs. This project has seen so much success because the video camera does not require its user to be literate or even highly skilled in technology.

One sect of the project centered around two villages and twenty women from each of the two villages. After the women were chosen there was a four day workshop held to train the women with the skills to operate the cameras. After weeks of filming, there were two 15-minute feature that capture “the challenges, resolves and aspirations of the women.” Some of the most prevalent problems in their daily lives were:

  • HIV/Aids
  • Legal rights issue
  • Shelter/squalid living conditions
  • Scarcity of men in the communities
  • Plight of the elderly
  • High number of orphans

The videos were shown on national TV and won international acclaim. Government ministers, NGO heads, and women’s groups (among many others) came out for the official screening of the films. The women who made the film were able to speak directly with these policy makers.

Overall, I think this strategy is very successful because it empowers women with purpose and self confidence. It does not require these women to make daily sacrifices or changes, but just to document their lives. This program is successful because it seeks to enhance these women’s pre-exisitng communication skills. It also gives them a relevant platform that will allow policy makers an opportunity to see what really goes on in these urban slums. The “Women’s Voices” program was so successful in Kenya, it has spread to Zimbabwe and Peru.

Link to the Women’s Voices Case Study