In class today we discussed the various ICT applications in all sectors worldwide such as Health, Energy and Environment, Disaster and Humanitarian Aid, Agriculture and Business. It is definitely clear from the presentations that a common challenge each sector faces when implementing ICT’s is proper education and training programs for management and regulation. Education must come from both sides from the outside in, and the inside out. People who are coming into a country must understand that the “One Size Fits All” method has a high failure rate and overall does not work due to the uniqueness of each developing country. On the other hand, the people within these countries must be properly educated about the changes and new systems created for their benefits. Without proper education about new types of technology (computers, e-Health), new systems (Green spaces, GIS, early warning systems), the sustainability of the projects are at a high risk. Specifically in health education, as discussed by fellow classmates, is one of the more important topics because of the high birth rates that are overcrowding communities and making poverty and hunger more prevalent. By simply spreading necessary health information about pregnancy and up to date information about maternal care, this can be alleviated with just the spread of vital information and filling education gaps in this sector.
In addition, training programs in these sectors help ensure initial successes and positive outcomes (both short term and long term), ensure sustainability for the future and even create jobs for technicians or experts in for a given sector. This would also help create a bottom-up approach to implementation strategies. For the Humanitarian aid especially this is vital because it comes at a high (yet necessary) cost, so efficiency is necessary.
Though money will always be an issue for many of the implementations of new programs or systems for development through ICT, without training and education the sustainability of each and every one is at a high risk. Unless long-term protocols are set in place, the successes of the short term are qualitatively less valuable.
In this week’s class we discussed our personal experiences with technology in the education system and how it has evolved from when each of us began formal schooling to where we are at now. This presented a good discussion about how technology has been implemented on many different levels across various areas around the United States. Our experiences with technology in the United States is extremely different the approaches that have been taken to implement new forms of technology in the developing world.
The article below discusses the top 6 technology challenges that developing nations face and presents reasons for why the developing world has struggled to implement ICT successfully on many nations.
The article discusses that the obvious issues of power, access, bandwidth, cost, maintenance, and content are very obvious reasons that the developing world has lagged behind the developed, but the major six reasons that the author found to be most pervasive are: (1) ease of use (2) lack of focus on voice communication and less on SMS text messaging (3) data security (4) open interfaces (5) multi-modal data transfer and (6) price. The article concluded by stating that optimism is the key to facing these challenges and that adaptation is necessary for developing nations to ever implement any new technology successfully.
In last week’s reading Erwin Alampay discussed the capabilities approach in regards to ICT in developing nations. The article spoke about how an understanding of the capabilities for developing nations is critical to integrating ICT in a nation’s social and economic structure. If a nation aims to provide assistance to another nation in the use of ICT they must understand the productive capabilities of the particular society. This means that a humanistic approach is considerably important to success in development. In understanding a nation’s capabilities, the individual’s freedoms, values, happiness, and human welfare must all be understand for effective implementation of ICT in any country. One-size-fits all methods to ICT4D are not truly effective ways to aid developing nations in development by maximizing their existing capabilities
This brings about the idea that developed nations must have a strong grasp of their own capabilities to ever be able to effectively assist another nation. If a developed nations like the United States does not understand how to utilize existing technology in school systems in rural states, they should not be in the process of implementing these technologies in rural states in the developing world. There are still many divides in ICT usages across the United States that lead educational inequality and differences in individual capabilities. This is especially evident due to the lack of national guidelines that regulate technology in public schools. I grew up in the public school system of rural Maine and received a very progressive education that incorporated ICT in our daily lives. Beginning in middle school each student was provided with a laptop and later an iPad for personal and school related use. All classrooms were equipped with ‘smart boards’ and all students were required to take computer applications and related courses in order to graduate. When I arrived at Tulane it was shocking to see the difference in education that I received from some of my other classmates who had attended schools in different areas across the US. Although ICT in the school system across the nation has improved, there still exist issues of inequality between different areas. When the United States and other developed nations decide to assist a developing nation with ICT use, they must first look to their own national capabilities and attempt to learn from this information so it can be curtailed and tailored to each nation’s development needs.
When I was doing this weeks reading, one statement made by Erwin Alampay in his paper “Beyond access to ICTs: Measuring capabilities in the information society” really caught my eye.
“The idea of the ‘information society’ can be linked to the ideas of modernization and globalization. The ideology of modernization explains how societal development must go through a series of stages, with each phase having a different technological base of production. In an information society that base would be information technology. Furthermore, in the process of increased globalization, economies of the world have become more integrated whereby information technology plays a major role in it. As such, in both perspectives, information technologies play a part in development: with modernization, it can be seen as a potential means to close the gap among nations; with globalization, it is viewed as an important component for nations to participate in the economic process.”
These ideas are not new to me, since they are at the foundation of what this class is all about. However, this is the first time I had thought of ICT as having two different roles.
If I were to expand on these different views, I would say that modernization is the evolution and development of technology in a society, while globalization involves the spread of technology and its growing use/importance in global relations. When we examine ICT in developing countries, the modernization of technology comes before the globalization. Countries at higher levels of development have more advanced technology but as the process of modernization continues, new innovations in technology fuel the process of globalization. In my view, modernization is a process that has already been in action since the industrial age. As manufacturing technology developed, so did transportation, communication, and other innovations that laid the groundwork for the advanced technologies we have today. Globalization, on the other hand, is a new process that is transforming these technologies into important tools used in the economic process. Globalization has opened up national markets to international trade and created a new global economy. With the future of technology seeming bright, a focus on increasing modernization in developing countries will lead them to an even more globalized economy.
While I was writing my paper on the country of Indonesia I became a bit skeptical on the validity of the information that has been collected regarding their technological achievements and the overall data in general. For those of you who don’t know, the country of Indonesia is comprised of nearly 10,000 separate islands spreadings over hundreds of miles of water. There is one governing body that looks over all of these islands, some so small that their entire population is under 5,000 people and their language is only spoken in a dialect specific to their home. I have only been to Bali, but I can assure you that their census system there is sub par to anything in the U.S., in fact I know for certain that all of the undocumented slum children who live in Bali, don’t even have a birth certificate. Some of these children or their families do have mobile phones that have been traded in the back-alley markets for goods. Here then is a major flaw in the data collection system, because if there is no official record of this slum population, so how than could they be included?
Im not proposing that data collection systems are rendered flawless, but I do find that a country as unique as Indonesia would have a hard time procuring such information. While I was looking at the data charts and this all came to mind, I tried finding additional information on data collection resources in Indonesia, and as you can imagine I came up short. I think that in this day and age data collection is vital to understanding a fact-based larger picture in the world of development and technology, however systems of conducting such research might not work everywhere. People hack in to wifi networks all the time, even in the U.S., there will always be users that are unaccounted for. I think that when looking at any data collection it is important to not just take it for truth, even if it has been published by a reputable company. IDEV is about trying to find new solutions and gain a greater understanding in helping develop the rest of the world, this can only be done if we question what we are told and try and find a new solution or find the answer in unlikely or new places.
In class we discussed the difference between knowledge and information. When these two terms were dissected, we decided that knowledge is the understanding and use of information that can be applied to the formal sectors of society. This brings apparent the idea of knowledge and information societies. The United States and much of the developed world can be considered a knowledge society as they are responsible for producing and sharing present information to all members of society to improve human conditions. Knowledge societies process the data and information to further economic, social, and political wealth.
The concept of knowledge societies are extremely important to the relationship between developing and developed countries. Since knowledge societies are responsible for making all information and data available to their own nation, the responsibility of these developed societies in bridging the knowledge gap between the developed and developing world can often be in question. Particularly with information technology and the digital divide, new information is constantly being circulated throughout the developed world. As a knowledge society with a moral responsibility for the social welfare of the developing world, the United States must further use its available knowledge to aid developing nations and build an infrastructure that will allow these countries to also further advance as knowledge societies.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading development reports and researching development indices. In one of my international development courses I had to read several different development reports throughout the semester. As I read over the Global Information Technology Report I was shocked that this kind of report was never even mentioned. I had to define and use over 15 different development indices throughout the semester. I wrote on economic indices, environmental indices, gender indices and several more. Yet I was never told to look into something like a Network Readiness Index. I was never required to look into how information and communication technologies directly impacted development within a given country.
After using the 2013 UN Human Development Report as a reference in countless papers, I decided to go back to it and see what it included about information and communication technology. I was surprised to find that there was no section that focused on this topic. It was simply mentioned in the context of other major topics. For example, the report states that “as countries are increasingly interconnected through trade, migration, and information and communications technologies, it is no surprise that policy decisions in one place have substantial impacts elsewhere”. ICT is mentioned in a series of causal factors, but the topic is never investigated in depth. This sub category plays an underlying role in almost every other category, from education to economics to health care, but is never discussed in isolation.
By now it is clear that information and communication technologies are a vital tool in all sectors of development. Recognizing this, I think it is important that we spend more time and energy focusing on how this technology becomes accessible throughout the developing world. I look forward to focusing on this in ICT4D throughout the coming semester. I think this topic needs to carry more weight in many other development courses, and I hope to use my new understanding of ICT in the context of all my further development research.