Author Archives: megstanger

Costa Rica ICT National Resources

According to FORESTA’s 2012 report, the most significant present ICT policies for Costa Rica are included in the National Plan of Telecommunications Development, the XXI Century Strategy and The Digital Government Action Plan 2008-2010. Overall, there is no clearly identified ICT National Policy, however, there are pieces of National ICT Policy identified in each of the above plans.

FORESTA – The National Plan for Information Technology, 2012, English

The WSIS National e-Strategies for Development Report, 2010, English

OECD National Report, 2012, English

The Program of Educational Informatics MEP-FOD aims to improve the quality of the public education system in Costa Rica by providing students and teachers with access to information technology and services. The Ministry of Public Education of Costa Rica and the Omar Dengo Foundation initiated the program in 1988.

The Ministry of Public Education, 2012, Spanish

Omar Dengo Foundation for the improvement of education, technology, and development, 2012, English

Based on numerous health indicators, Costa Rica can be described as having an efficient universal healthcare system that reaches 99% of the Costa Rican population and is comparable in quality to the healthcare systems of developed nations. In fact, the major health care problems in Costa Rica are more similar to those of the developed nations, than those of the developing nations.

US National Library of Medicine: National Institute of Health: Costa Rica, 2012, English

TED TALK video about Cost Rica: Happiest country on earth!

Overall, Costa Rica is a very great country to explore for exemplary use of ICTs in development.

ICT4D Final Class Blog

I really enjoyed how this class was a lot more practical than the other International Development classes. Every other class I have taken has been theory-based without any examples of the theories put into practice. I really like how this class seemed to provide real world examples in the current ICTs in development. Specifically, I most enjoyed our discussion of failures in the usage of ICT4D. Although it is rough having a failed project, it is great that we are learning from them in class so we do not repeat them in our professional lives.

I especially liked our debate on the One Child Per Laptop (OCPL) Initiative. Although it seems like a good idea, after viewing one or two ridiculous commercials it is obvious that the program does not consider what is right for the beneficiaries, that is, the kids. In theory, this would be called the modernization theory or the cookie-cutter approach to development. The theory appears to be outdated because of its many failures in the developing world. The most important lesson to take out of this is that we, as future leaders in development, must take into account every aspect of the program. It must be well thought out, efficient with the available resources, and culturally well received. As we have seen through many failures in ICT programs, maintenance is important and oftentimes a flashy new computer lab is useless without teachers and proper infrastructure. Since so many foreign aid programs do fail, I would have like to go over even more examples of failed programs. Also, because the last paper was so challenging/exciting to make up, it would be great to go over project designing in ICT4D. I also enjoyed talking about disasters and humanitarian response because it seems as if ICT’s are more and more useful in these circumstances.

GIS in New Orleans

I intern at the Beacon of Hope Resource Center which is based in New Orleans. Beacon of Hope attempts to help with community issues. The mission has been changing to fit the needs of the neighborhoods. In the beginning days of Beacon of Hope, the problems were mostly construction related, now, six years after the storm, there is a little less action being taken in terms of helping people fix their homes. Now, it is more about fixing the communities. The main neighborhood that Beacon of Hope works with is Gentilly. In the Beacon neighborhoods, everything from tracking blighted homes and assisting the elderly with their homes, to planning community fundraising events and surveying neighborhoods is done.

Most specific to Beacon of Hope is their mapping capabilities. During class on Thursday, the maps that we were creating reminded me of what I do at the Beacon of Hope. I worked with Beacon of Hope to help them, and the Ninth Ward community, conduct field research in the Lower Ninth Ward using an ArcGIS surveying app. This survey was both for outreach and information purposes. The data collected is a source of information that reveals important information for people and businesses looking to move back to New Orleans and the government. For this event, I we had 20 iPhone owning volunteers for a full day of surveying. Collectively, we entered relevant information pertaining to hundreds of homes and lots. As we have seen there are many ways we use GIS in New Orleans and it very important for us as development majors to understand uses of GIS.


Should we hire Hackers?

In this TED video, Misha Glenny urges companies to hire hackers. He begins by talking about the hacker group “Anonymous” that has formed in 2010 and has already hacked the Fox news network in an effort to lead them to believe that President Obama was assassinated. This politically motivated group of hackers is actually more of a security threat than we can even imagine. When we recently read and spoke about the Zapatista movement that was really the first Internet organized revolution, we spoke about the power of an Internet connection. Last year, in Egypt we saw the magnitude of influence facebook had in organizing student led revolts. With hackers involved, this power of the Internet, of broadcasting information, is at another level. The UN operation, “Hackers Profiling Project” which is an initiative in Italy “aims to improve the response to ICT crime and the transnational organised crime groups that may be involved in it, by outlining the criminal profiles of the different types of hackers, with particular emphasis on their possible involvement in transnational organised crime activities and cyber-terrorism” (UNICJR). The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute asserts that the advances in ICT’s are a double-edged sword and that we have to be prepared to fight against the costs—hackers. According to Misha Glenny, “Carderplanet” created one of the first glimpses of cyber hacking where cyber criminals could log on and steal credit card information and then get paid for it. Now everything is more advanced and the cyber hackers, who do not get away with their crimes, are sent to jail. Misha Glenny, suggests that these hackers should instead be hired to help companies. What do you all think? I think it is an interesting claim because if they are criminals either way, can we excuse them and trust them just because they present a skill that is rare and important? I don’t know but it is an interesting video. 

“Quien Paga Manda: El Blog del Consumidor” – You Pay, You Rule: The Blog of Consumers


In this blog, Costa Rican consumers can access relevant information concerning customer service and national consumer rights. The website also publishes consumers’ experiences that warn against legal gaps and bad commercial practices. This blog uses technology to outline how to avoid becoming a victim as a consumer. This is a very interesting way to use technology to protect Costa Rican consumers. I would not have thought this type of service via a blog would be very popular and helpful to large populations, however, blogs have the ability to reach a lot of people in conjunction with other social networking sites like facebook and twitter.

Blogs have proven to be a huge tool in information sharing worldwide. Now, our whole class is using this ICT4D blog to do just that–share knowledge. It doesn’t stop there. Blogging has become a professional way of learning from others as well as contributing to public knowledge. It is impressive that there is a Costa Rican blog that is so useful in protecting consumers.

Verizon Foundation’s Education Initiative

According to an article from the Sacramento Bee, the Verizon Foundation launched an Education Initiative on October 18th, 2012, to improve student learning in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) through mobile technologies. This initiative used three main programs, such as the Verizon Innovative App Challenge, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools and the new Thinkfinity platform.

The Innovative App Challenge:

The Innovative App Challenge is a competition that challenges middle and high school students to design ideas for mobile apps that integrate STEM subjects. The theory is that these mobile apps will help solve a problem in the student’s community. The winner’s school will receive a $10,000 cash grant and training to make the app a reality, with training and building support.

Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program:

The Verizon Innovative Learning Schools Program is a training program that is intended to help teachers make the most of technology and incorporate mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets, into classroom instruction to improve student achievement in STEM subjects. This plan is very different from the case study on “One Laptop per Child” we spoke about in class because it recognizes the teachers as being a crucial determinant on the effectiveness of using technology in the classroom. Additionally, and most importantly, it provides the teachers with training on how to integrate and most efficiently utilize the provided technology. In partnership, the International Society for Technology in Education and the Verizon Foundation has already launched the program in 12 schools and they have plans on expanding pending success of the program.


This website provides U.S. teachers with free access to new training resources from the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program and an extensive collection of digital content that were created by leading educational organizations.

After learning more about the sense of moral responsibility that the Verizon Foundation exhibits, I regret not subscribing to their service.  The article closes by saying, “Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live. Verizon’s employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.2 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities” (Sacramento Bee, 2012).

School Libraries Using Resources to Teach Efficient Use of ICT’s

In the The Patriot-News article titled, School libraries are still about teaching students ‘to use information efficiently and ethically’, the reporter, Barbara Miller, focuses on a group of High School Libraries in Central Pennsylvania to compare and contrast differences in approaches to advancements in technology. Budget-wise, most schools seem to be investing in more digital resources (e-books). However, some school districts have cut librarian employment. Miller says, “West Shore School District, cut half of its 12 library positions…”(Miller 2012).

According to the Pennsylvania School Libraries Association:

  • At least 198 schools in the state had library services reduced for 2011-12.
  • 95.25 librarian positions were eliminated, 34.25 of them through attrition.

Has the role of a librarian changed? Well, the article explains that the primary role of elementary school librarians is to assist the children with learning how to read. Therefore, not many librarian cuts have been in the elementary schools. Traditionally, the role of a librarian has always been that of a resource provider. However, the growing role of a librarian is that of a technological resource provider using ICTs to increase the proficiency and relevancy of libraries. Capri Stiles, head librarian in Carlisle Area School District says, “It is the hub of technology — that’s definitely how we see the direction of our library”(Miller 2012). The article speaks of some librarians who have not been very happy about the new focus of their jobs–technology. Nor, the new obsession with reading books based on movies. I, myself, do not see this as something to be discouraged and instead embraced. As long as more students are reading, technology has done its part in assisting children become involved in the reading world.

This article claims that although information is easy to come by, understanding it is not. School libraries are now teaching how to collaborate online on programs like GoogleDocs and blogs.

The most significant striking passage was:

The effect of library cuts can be students who have to take remedial classes in college, or who won’t know how to find a job or succeed in the workplace. “This is the ultimate case of penny-wise and pound foolish,” Miller said. “If we do not invest in public schools and school libraries, we are just kicking the can down the road and will pay the price later on”  (Miller 2012).

“Tech Needs Girls” and the Mobile Lady

While searching ICTs and Gender, I found an award site that recognizes innovative and effective projects by women to use ICTs to promote gender equality and/or women’s empowerment. Curiously, it seems as though the last awards were given out in 2005, however, the winner’s project in Bangladesh is very relevant to our discussion in class on Thursday. The Pallitathya Help-Line project uses female mobile phone operators to answer calls from rural populations that lack access to information about health, education, legal procedures or administrative hassles.


As outlined by the Help-Line’s website, the major components of the project include:

– Mobile Lady

– Help Desk with an expert panel

– Directory database

– External expert panel

– Community members

– Monitoring successes

– Modes of information delivery through Help Line


Similarly, ITU (International Telecommunication Union), which is the United Nations agency for ICTs, has created a campaign called “Tech needs Girls.” This campaign seeks to increase female participation in the technology sector via awareness events, training sessions, work opportunities, etc. in the developed and developing world.


Scaling up access to quality maternal and child health care to attain MDGs by 2015

This week in class we discussed Millennium Development Goals. MDGs bring obvious positives and negatives. Our reading, by Richard Heeks, explained that the MDGs were designed for all the right reasons, however, there are many problems that do not necessarily improve the lives of the people need to receive help. The article that I will summarize and comment on outlines some positive results the MDGs have had on maternal and child health care.

According to the article, everyday about 800 women lose their lives giving birth and that maternal and child mortality are inseparable. The article states that, “These deaths are unacceptable, particularly because they are preventable” (Huffington Post, 2012). Specifically, the number of children dead before their 5th birthday has decreased dramatically since 1990 by almost half (Huffington Post, 2012). There are plans to decrease this number even further as outlined in the MDGs. The heads of the Health 4+ (H4+ – UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN WOMEN, WHO, and the World Bank) are meeting on September 24th in New York to communicate about the efforts being made to meet the MDGs. Some initiatives that were noteworthy in the article are outlined below:

– In 2010, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. It has been very successful in delivering life-saving interventions for women and children all around the world.

– The introduction of mobile technology to improve service delivery in Zambia.

– The training of more specialists to deliver emergency obstetric and neonatal care in Zimbabwe.

– Private sector partners have also been active in helping the H4+ support governments to most effectively integrate ICTs to improve service delivery to mothers and newborns in countries such as Ethiopia and Tanzania.

To view the article click here.

Attacking the Gender Digital Divide in Brazil

After leaving class on Wednesday, I began to research how the digital divide in gender has been tackled. Specifically, I found a report that was published in 2005 by the UN titled, “Gender equality and empowerment of women through ICT.” The link is here.

After reading through the beginning pages, an example of a project in Brazil was highlighted. CEMINA, which stands for Communication, Education, and Information on Gender (once translated to English), aims to improve education on gender equality, health and environment issues and strengthens poor women’s rights and citizenship through the use of radio. The organization was created in the 1980’s and in 1988 a radio channel called “Women Speak Up” was up and running. This channel provides women with information on how to access technology and a higher education, as well as, comments on women issues. By 1995, CEMINA’s Women’s Radio Network included 400 women’s radio programs distributed across Brazil reaching thousands of listeners located in the poorest communities. Since the 1980’s, CEMINA has grown tremendously. The channel is now streamed online, the organization provides women across Brazil access to the Internet to help promote digital inclusion, and they are using their model to start radio programs in other countries. They state, “It is our commitment to ensure that women will not, once again, be left behind and lack access and opportunities to this important tool for social development”(CEMINA, 2012). If this type of organization was promoted in other countries culturally applicable, it may be easier for poorer communities of women to get information, and therefore close the ICT gap categorized by gender.