Author Archives: Juan Carlos Monterrey Gomez

About Juan Carlos Monterrey Gomez

Panamanian Student at Tulane University

Mapping 4 Development: Resources

Mapping technologies have been incorporated into the development field to provide practitioners with rigorous spatial analysis of complex issues across the globe. In order for practitioners to take full advantage of mapping technologies, it is imperative for them to learn about the potential uses of such technologies. Many international organizations and academic departments have compiled a large amount of resources for individuals with interest in mapping for development. Below you will find a list of projects, handbooks, and links that will provide you with more information about the mapping landscape in international development,

GIS @ Tufts – Tufts University

This site contains a comprehensive list of examples of GIS and research sites for international development and examples of GIS for humanitarian relief.

Good Practices in Participatory Mapping – IFAD

This handbook provides a framework to develop participatory mapping strategies. It also explores major issues that arise through participatory mapping and provides ways in which those issues can be addressed.

How to Use Maps to Raise Awareness – The Guardian

This article provides a quick review of different ways in which mapping technologies can be use to raise awareness about a particular issue or set of issues.

International Human Development Indicators – UNDP

This is a visual representation of the Human Development Report’s data by country. It also includes the Multidimensional Poverty Index, the Gender Inequality Index, and the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Indicator.

Maps and Mapping Resources – California State University

This site contains a list of resources and maps pertaining to historical events, demographics, environmental issues, geological maps, and the weather.

Regional Centre for Mapping Resources for Development

The Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) was established in Nairobi – Kenya in 1975 under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the then Organization of African Unity (OAU), today African Union (AU). RCMRD is an inter-governmental organization and currently has 19 Contracting Member States in the Eastern and Southern Africa Regions; Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somali, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Source: www.rcmrd.org

The e-Atlas of Global Development – The World Bank

The atlas provides a comprehensive visual overview of the world’s most pressing social challenges and its people.

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E-Government and Connectivity at its Best: Colombia, Uruguay, and Panama

Governments live under constant pressure to meet the growing needs of their citizens with limited resources available. Countries around the world have addressed this issue by modernizing government management through the implementation of innovative e-government programs. Colombia, Uruguay, and Panama were recognized as e-government champions by the 2013 version of the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report. In Panama, thanks to PanamaEmprende, entrepreneurs can set-up a company in 15 minutes. Internet connections have more than tripled in Colombia in less than three years. In Uruguay technology exports have more than quadrupled in a decade thanks to the support the government has provided to small and mid-size tech enterprises.

Colombia’s political investment in ICTs initiated 14 years ago with the release of the National Council for Economic and Social Policy’s policy agenda for the 21st Century. The strategic document became a road map for the development of the Colombian Knowledge-based society. Colombia’s e-government success is the product of a.) Strong political support, b.) The use of ICT as a state policy, c.) Sufficient Financial Resources, d.) Addressing Citizens’ concerns, e.) International Cooperation, and f.) Institutional and workforce capacity. Uruguay also started investing in ICTs in the late 1990s and its ICT success can be attribute, among other things, to the nurturing of tis local ICT businesses. In the case of Panama, e-government success is the result of extraordinary political support from the president and cabinet members.

Despite the astonishing progress Colombia, Uruguay, and Panama have achieved in terms of e-government, many challenges still remain visible: a.) millions of people still can’t afford to access the internet and b.) funds to expand the digital infrastructure of these countries are limited.

For more information about e-government in Colombia, Uruguay, and Panama, please refer to Chapter 2.3 of the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report available here.


The 21st Century Classroom Project (Panama)

The Gabriel Lewis Galindo Foundation (FGLG) is a non-profit organization headquartered in Panama City with the mission to improve quality of education in the Republic of Panama. FGLG pursues its mission by implementing initiatives that promote and guarantee access to quality education in the national territory. The 21st Century Classroom Project is, without a doubt, one of the foundation’s most successful initiatives. It seeks to equip public schools with computer labs (a.k.a.  21st Century Classrooms) to strengthen the learning process.  All labs have computers, scanners, printers, digital projectors, digital cameras, headphones, microphones, televisions, DVD players, and Internet access.

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The organization also provides technical support and updates the computers’ software annually as a result of a strategic partnership with Microsoft. Thus far, sixteen 21st Century Classrooms have been built. The organization expects to promote teamwork, fortify research strategies and enable Panama’s youth to become change makers with the support of technology. Teachers receive constant training on how to 1. Utilize the resources available in the computer labs and 2. Integrate technology in their academic programs.

At first glance, FGLG’s 21st Century Classroom Project seems mundane and unsustainable. It reminds us of many top-down ICT initiatives that have failed miserably. However, constant technical support and training set The 21st Century Classroom Project apart from failed ICT intervention in education.

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For more information about the Foundation Gabriel Lewis Galindo and its initiatives, please visit http://www.fglg.org.pa/

* The author of this blog is a proud recipient of the Gabriel Lewis Galindo Endowed Scholarship.

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R4D: Radio for Development

Radio is the most effective ICT in the developing world.  People don’t realize the importance of radio communication in the developing world. First world countries’ residents are accustomed to the Internet and often forget that billions of people living in remote rural communities around the world don’t have access to it. While browsing the Internet and reading about the critical role of radio communication in developing nations, I found a blog called ‘Radio for Development.’ The blog (http://goo.gl/d1eynT) is maintained by Sam Coley – Senior Lecturer and Radio Degree Leader at Birmingham City University, UK. It contains a series of blog posts that describe radio-related development projects, mostly in Africa. What I like the most about the blog is that the content is very short and to the point. Most blogs entries also contain a short video that complements the entry. I strongly recommend everyone to read all of the blog’s posts. My favorite entry is about the South Africa bush radio project .


Panama National ICT Resources

Studying Panama as your focus country will be difficult as many of the government resources and ICT policy documents are in Spanish. The National Authority for Government Innovation (AIG) is the public entity in charge of creating, implementing, and monitoring the success of Panama’s ICT policy. Make sure to use AIG’s resources before researching external documents. Please, keep in mind that every administration has created a new ICT policy, thus it is important to make sure the resources you use refer to the most recent policy. There is a lot of information available, so make sure to focus on the specific information you need. Unfortunately, there is a low of level of continuity among government initiatives when the ruling party changes. I expect the upcoming administration (starting in June 2014) to create a new policy.

National ICT Policy:

Agenda Digital Estratégica: Panamá 2012-2014

Language: Spanish

Creator: National Authority for Government Innovation (AIG) and UNDP

Publisher: AIG

Creation Year: 2010

Updates: N/A

 

Government Resources:

National Authority for Government Innovation (AIG)

National Secretariat for Science and Technology

Ministry of Economics and Finance

Ministry of Social Development

Ministry of Commerce and Industry

Controller’s Office

The National Statistical Institute

 

Non-Government Resources:

Country Profile: Panama – 2012 ECLAC

Language: English

Perfil Economico de Panama – 2012 ECLAC

Language: Spanish

The Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC)

Language: Spanish

National ICT Chamber

Language: Spanish


Inclusive Innovation

Last week in class we talked a little bit about the impact of advanced technological innovations in poor nations. I personally believe technological advancements have improved the lives of billions of people across the globe. We encounter technology in all aspects of our lives. New devices come out almost every week. Many individuals buy new technologies to improve their productivity, others buy them for entertainment. During the class discussion one of my classmates asked a few questions that caught my attention, among them: What is the purpose of technology? Haven’t we had enough of it? When do we stop?

My classmate’s questions stuck with me for a long time. Sometimes I feel like technology makes me more productive and I can’t live without it, but other times I feel like technology is taking over my life. Have I had enough of technology? Probably not. Do I want companies to stop manufacturing new devices? Definitely not! I can’t wait to get the iPhone 135SC in 2 years! It seems like technology makes me happy. It directly impacts every aspect of my life, but what does it do for the people at the bottom billion?

I decided to do some research about how technology can serve those at the bottom billion. Luckily I found a very interesting article by our favorite ICT4D expert, Richard Heeks. Heeks’ article, “Understanding Inclusive Innovation” introduces readers to the concept of  inclusive innovation: how to create and improve technologies that positively impact marginalized communities. Inclusive innovation involves the creation of technologies for the benefit of excluded/marginalized communities. Is the iPhone an inclusive innovation? Was it created with the intention of helping the living conditions of the poor? Probably not…In fact, most of the devices that we use are not inclusive.  I found Heeks article very refreshing, especially at a time when we tend to feel overwhelmed by the amount of gadgets released every week.  Maybe it is time for tech entrepreneurs to take a step back and refocus their efforts. Sadly, I highly doubt most tech entrepreneurs will get on with the concept of inclusive innovation. Unfortunately, non-inclusive innovation (that which we enjoy everyday) at this moment is very profitable.


ICT + MDGs: Resources

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Source: ICTworks’ website

The United Nations’ Asian Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development provides and outstanding list of resources that explain how ICT can help us achieve the Millennium Development Goals – especially Goal 8. This page contains studies that address topics such a: the gender divide and technology, youth and ICT4D, ICTs and Democracy, ICTs and the environment, ICT and Human development, etc.

The page serves as a great resource for academics, practitioners and students seeking for rigorous analytical studies that provide meaningful insights on the potential of ICT to consciously accelerate the development process. The study  titled “A Digital Shift: Youth and ICT for development” is one of the most interesting documents on the site. It is not a secret that youth are major consumers of new technologies and this study provides a fresh perspective on how the youth through ICT can contribute to the achievement of the MDGs.

Additionally, I also want to share an old but meaningful article published on ICTworks’ website. The title of the article is “5 ways ICT can support Millennium Development Goals.” This article also explains the importance of engaging youth in the development process. Ultimately the youth will be the biggest beneficiaries of our current and future development achievements; hence, making them active participants of the development process should be common sense.