Tag Archives: e-government

Electronic Birth Registration in Bangladesh

E-government projects have a success rate of only 15%. Thus far, these development initiatives have been Imagechallenging to implement in countries that lack ICT infrastructure and overall stability. One of the rare successes was a project in the Rajshahi City Corporation,the fourth largest city in the country, that allowed for birth records to be added electronically making them much easier to access and more uniform. The birth records then not only served as identification but could also be used by other departments to possibly record immunizations or school enrollment.

The direct cost of implementing this system was 20,000 US dollars, with only a 200 per month fee to maintain the system. There was improvements in both enrollment and vaccinations after the program, as well as a reduction in statistical errors based on registration. The new system is much more organized and efficient and a great example of how just a small project can have last effects.

The factors that allowed for this project to be a success seem to be its small nature, many projects are too ambitious and wind up failing because of this. The project also was simple, but effected many areas, which allowed it to have growing returns. It is easy to maintain and also easy to replicated. It does not require teaching of technologies except to a very few data entry personnel and requires no great shift in organization which makes it easy to understand. More egoverment projects like these will lead to more efficient government.

case study by Moshtaq Ahmed

Cloud Computing for E-Government

The relationship between cloud computing and security is a very interesting one to me. With the growing needs for ICT for development and in general, cloud computing is an obvious solution. It keeps everything linked, easily accessible, and increases storage resources. For example, Tulane University switched to a cloud-based email system about a year ago, giving students 10 GB of email storage as well as a “SkyDrive” which is a cloud-based flash drive. This switch gave students more space than they would ever need–I have thousands of emails and I’m only at just over 1 GB.

But is the cloud a solution for everything and everyone in ICT? An article published recently in March talked about cloud computing in relation to e-government for Barbados, stating that “cloud computing has the potential to significantly lower Barbados government enterprise ICT cost while improving overall ICT operations and support services.” While cloud computing is certainly a new option to improve ICT cost and operations for governments, is is a good idea in a sector that deals with so much private citizen information? Security has always been a concern when dealing with ICTs, so it needs to be an even bigger concern when looking into e-government and e-governance. I believe that it is possible and a viable option, but only after a lengthy consideration of ALL possible security concerns, and a well-outlined security and architecture plan.

Telecenters and the Issue of Trust in Implementing E-Governments

After searching in vain for a more recent update on the status of South Africa’s e-government implementation, I found another article that related in part to the process of ensuring mainstream access in South Africa by generally discussing the use of telecenters. Somewhere along the way in my research, I learned that South Africa attempted to mitigate the resulting increased digital divide by promoting the use of e-government in telecenters. This would enable those without personal computers (or cell phones with internet capabilities) or internet to have a similar level of access to e-government resources in their own communities. This approach was in conjunction with the Zuza Software Foundation’s efforts to create open source software in South Africa (with the goal of making pages easy to translate into one of South Africa’s ten other languages). With these innovative phenomena acting in conjunction, one would think that mitigating two of the biggest access challenges would be a revolutionary impetus of widespread use of e-government resources.

However this article delves into the issue of trust within telecenters themselves – how it’s a multi-faceted paradigm that needs to be thoroughly overcome before expecting those with the greatest needs to use telecenters to their fullest capacities. Specifically within e-governments, the article addresses the importance of a human “local intermediary” with whom citizens feel trust to ensure success of telecenters in e-government service delivery;

“In the context of developing countries,there is a need for human intermediaries to bridge both the overt and the social resource endowment gaps between what the poor have and what they would need in order to use ICTs”

The ideal intermediary is an individual from the community directly targeted by the ICT and who has generally good knowledge and enthusiasm for the ICT at hand, who can essentially help out with any problems or possible frustrations that could be associated with using the ICT. Apparently this person leads an almost essential role in improving the rates of telecenter use. Besides having trust within the institution, online communities, the government itself, and in other aspects of technology, a human intermediary between the user and the ICT is necessary for full accomplishment.

Source: E-Governance Services Through Telecenters: The Role of Human Intermediary and Issues of Trust

Ghana’s E-government

Ghana recently announced in a stakeholder consultative meeting the establishment of it’s country’s first e-government efforts directed towards eleven different departments and agencies. The departments involved in this project will include “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, the Accra Metroplitan Assembly (AMA), the Food and Drugs Board (FDB), the Birth and Death Registry, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the National Communications Authority (NCA), the NationalInformation Technology Agency (NITA), the Passport Office, the Minerals Commission and the Registrar-General’s Department” (Ghana.gov).

Ghana’s e-government program will focus on online payment for government services, a document management application, and improving the availability of government-related matters and information online. Leaders of this project hope to implement management and information-distributing systems for the justice, government procurement, parliament, immigration, and passport sectors of the government. Eventually, there will be a free flow of information between the public, service providers, government departments and agencies.

While this is an important step for Ghana’s governmental development, undoubtedly contributing to a more accountable and transparent political system, certain vital developmental needs, similar to those discussed in class, still exist in this African country that deserve attention as well.

Internet Hackers: Anonymous

This article talked about the recent arrest of 25 people in the loose-knit hacker group called “Anonymous” that were arrested in Spain, Chile, Colombia, and Argentina with the help and information from Interpol. The people who were arrested were “suspected of planning coordinated cyber-attacks against institutions including Colombia’s defense ministry and presidential Web Sites, Chile’s Endesa electricity company and national library, and other targets”. During these arrests authorities seized a total of 250 different mobile phones and information technology equipment. Four of the people arrested were a part of the attacks on the Spanish political party websites who had defaced the websites, put up data online about the police, and carried out “denial-of-service” attacks. Anonymous has no real structure to it and the different members all have different principles for why they hack. While Interpol has done a lot to aid in these investigations, Interpol itself cannot arrest or investigate anything, “it facilitates intelligence sharing to help police forces around the world work together” only.

This was an interesting article to read after reading about the South African e-Government initiative. One of South Africa’s main challenges it faces and one of the things it is most worried about as it implements it’s e-Government is security. Clearly, this article on Anonymous is proof that South Africa’s worries are real. While organizations like Interpol can help them investigate hackings into their e-government, it is ultimately the responsibility of South Africa to catch and deal with hackers, as Interpol can do nothing more than provide information. This means that the South African police force and investigative units need to be ready and trained in such activities as the country goes further with it’s e-government. Another interesting part of the article was when it said that Anonymous responded to Interpol on twitter by saying “Interpol, you can’t take Anonymous, it’s an idea”. I found this to be interesting because I think it’s something that every country beginning to implement e-government needs to think about. There is no way to completely get rid of or avoid hackers; they will always exist. Instead of focusing attention on trying to avoid them, the country needs the right people and structures in place to find and stop each source of hacking when it starts and deal with the perpetrators.

Lessons Learned: ICT4D

I have learned a variety of important information that I will need as a development professional. First of all, as globalization continues to expand and the world in technology continues to progress, the understanding of ICT4D will become crucial when dealing with both international and national development. I have always shied away from technology because I assumed that everything would prove too complicated for my limited knowledge of current technological developments. However this class has been eye opening; I have realized that simple technology such as social media, that is easily accessible, has such an immeasurable impact on both disaster relief and international development. I really enjoyed week 9 (Governance, Social Movements and Social Change), 10 (Participatory and Citizen’s Media), and 12 (Disaster Response and Humanitarian Aid) because they all taught me about technology that I felt I could have a grasp on and utilize when I start my work in the world of development.

The biggest overarching lesson that has been impressed upon me even more than I had known before is that before trying to fix large problems in developing countries it is very important to come up with achievable and sustainable smaller goals and projects. Sustainability may often not come with the cheapest price tag initially, but overall a sustainable project is more economically friendly and socially sound. It is necessary to work from the ground up; every project must be looked at individually. There are some wonderful new technological advancements that can help many people, however if people do not know how to use basic computer programs, or don’t have the fundamental infrastructure to support such technology, it doesn’t matter how great the new findings are, they will not make an impact where they are most needed. This means that local participation and input is required for a project to succeed. It is important to give populations what they need, not what countries thousands of miles away believe that they need. The trickle down effect may work in some situations, however in an area where even the most basic infrastructure is lacking, it is just the wealthy that benefit from the technology. It is important to focus on small goals in education, such as introduction to the Internet, or word processing, rather than unleashing E-government or E-governance before the population can understand that language.

I think this class was really successful in making people with no technological background interested in, and less intimidated by, the technology that will inevitably be a part of our lives now and in the near future.

e-Government Benefits and Costs

The article argues that e-government raises, not lowers taxes. Quality cost-benefit analyses are limited in industrialized nations and even more so in the developing world. However, the pattern seems to be that the money saved through e-government measures is outweighed by the introduction and maintenance of e-government. Costs like hardware, software, internet connectivity, and the cost of an IT staff are added to inherent costs in a developing nation (low labor and high IT costs, low volumes of transactions across which costs can be spread, the learning curve, and the need for government e-services to be run in parallel with existing face-to-face, phone and postal service channels in order to bridge the digital divide and avoid excluding large sections of the population from access to government services. However, the author does not support the idea that e-government is a waste of money. He argues that the benefits lie elsewhere (time saving, oversight, service quality and equity). I agree that the start-up costs will outweigh the money saving benefits, but I believe this trend will undeniably change with time. E-gov will become part of the social fabric and the necessary infrastructure will be improved up. Investments on e-gov will see returns. http://ict4dblog.wordpress.com/