Tag Archives: Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka ICT4D Resources

1. ICT Policy last updated January 8, 2010, “Policy and Procedures for ICT Usage in Government (e-Government Policy).  Written by the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), published in English.   This policy outlines the application of ICT4D for development via Sri Lanka’s government endeavors.

2. “e-Sri Lanka: Smart People Smart Island” ICTA

3. “e-Sri Lanka: Transforming a Nation through Information Communication Technology”.  Published by ICTA in 2010.  PDF linked article, “e-Society and Researching the Rural Poor through Tele/Knowledge Centers- Nensalas”.  Project conducted through “e-Sri Lanka” involving installation of telecommunication centers throughout rural Sri Lanka and other ICT4D endeavors in the nation.

4. World Summit Award Article, World Summit Award: Smart e-Content for Smart People. 

Kevin Donovan’s “ICT4E in India and South Asia- Sri Lankan Country Study.”

5. I found it very easy to find resources on Sri Lanka thanks to it’s extensively published e-policies online. Sri Lanka has partnered with the World Bank to create a well-developed “e-agenda” that has been a great success over the past 8 years, and is a good example of a nation working towards development through ICT4D successfully.


Telecommunication: The Future of ICT4D?

In the article we read this week for class, “Mobile Phones and Economic Development: Evidence From the Fishing Industry in India”, author Reuben Abraham discussed the impact of mobile phone technologies on developing rural populations in economic terms.  While the distribution of mobile phone technologies in the Indian fishing industry did not yield spectacular results, the fact remains that mobile technologies allow for the improved dissemination of information in developing economies, and, as stated in the article “information is power”.  One area where this aphorism rings especially true is in the new e-Policies of Sri Lanka, instituted in the early 2000’s- before the insertion of telecenters throughout the small island country, rural populations had very little access to information of any kind.

Now, there is technology information in place that allows anyone in possession of a mobile telephone or landline access to information from 77 government organizations in any of the country’s three main languages, Sinhala, Tamil, or English, simply by dialing 1919.  This online “Government Information Center” is part of the e-Sri Lanka project, which is one of the first World Bank projects designed to bring ICT to “every village, citizen, and business, and transform the way the government thinks and works”.  While there have been drastic increases in mobile phone use in the country since the implementation of this program in 2004, the government’s investment in “nensalas” or tele/knowledge centers has resulted in the most beneficial impact for the rural poor.  Access to these telecenters has allowed for farmers, students, and small business owners in rural areas the ability to gain information for themselves, even without a mobile phone or landline.

The nensala (nen meaning knowledge, sala meaning shop), provides easy access to computer technology, the internet, and IT skills training, as well as basic telecommunications- these nensalas have greatly improved literacy rates, computer knowledge skills, and economic flow for Sri Lanka’s rural population through an investment in information access.  The nensalas provide local radio broadcasts of market prices and crop/agricultural info to farmers, e-health and telemedicine facilities to rural patients, audio books for the visually impaired, and visual hearing aids for the hearing impaired, all through access to telecommunications and the online government services.


Text Messages for Emergency and Disaster Management

The recent “severe” winter weather in New Orleans got me thinking about the use of ICTs for disaster prevention and warning. I was alerted that campus would be closed by text message sent by the Tulane Emergency Alert system and was also told about various road closures (such as the I-10 shut down) via text message. This method seemed to be the simplest and smartest way to communicate vital information with a large population. Could this same system be expanded to communicate pertinent information in disaster situations?

The answer appears to be yes it can. The FCC in response to the 2006 Warning Alert and Response Network Act has been working with wireless carriers to establish a system of nationwide alerts which could spread information in case of a disaster to all mobile phones in the United States.  The FCC describes the plan as consisting of three levels or phases. “The first would be a national alert from the president, likely involving a terrorist attack or natural disaster. The second would involve “imminent threats,” which could include natural disasters like hurricanes or tornadoes or even university shootings. The third would be reserved for child abduction emergencies, or so-called Amber Alerts.

Receiving these messages could also be free from carrier charges and be delivered by a unique audio signature or “vibration cadence.”

In the developing world the same systems are under construction. Before the 2007 tsunami in Sri Lanka text messages were use to alert people to evacuate even before official television and radio broadcasts were interrupted with the alert. There was no official text message warning system in place but those that lived on the coast received text messages from friends hours before the official warning were released which told them to leave.

The government attempted to send out emergency phone calls but the volume of traffic jammed the system and made phone calls impossible. In the future the  “National Telecommunications Authority has now asked subscribers to stick to text messaging during national emergencies.”

Once an official text message alert system is in place the government could use it not only to warn people of impending disasters but also spread information about relief efforts. The system could allow residents to know about refugee camps, food drops, and alert people when it is safe to return home.

Currently many opt-in system exist for spreading information about tsunami and hurricane alerts but many governments are working on systems that will spread these types of alerts to everyone without the need to sign up independently.

 

 

 

 


Linking NGOs through ICT

As Unwin discusses at the beginning of ICT4D, NGO’s have the potential to greatly impact a country’s implementation and spread of ICT usage among citizens. With the background and intimate knowledge they gather over the years about a specific region’s culture, traditions and religion among other factors, NGOs build up the necessary expertise to understand which methods are best suited for certain environments. Through their work and depending on how long an NGO has worked in a certain community, they’re able to form trusting relationships of respect with locals.

Sarvodaya-Fusion Staff in Sri Lanka (Courtesy of ITPro)

Sarvodaya-Fusion Staff in Sri Lanka (Courtesy of ITPro)

 

Following in this train of thought, an article was recently released about how NGOs in Sri Lanka are being connected by an ICT focused non-profit called “Sarvodaya-Fusion.” Their aim in this project is to unify Sri Lankan NGOs by arming them with the power of ICTs, making their work more effective and efficient. Whether they are focusing on rural economic development or environmental conservation, all NGOs can benefit through the advancement of their ICT knowledge. In fact, Sarvodaya-Fusion plans on dividing attending organizations into focus groups based on their individual missions.

 

A secondary benefit of Fusion’s project is how it will indirectly serve as a network through which over 50 Sri Lankan NGOs can unify themselves. All different types of NGO work are vital to improving any country, but their impact can be held back by unnecessary repetition of work and a general lack of communication across organizations.  “As the nation’s leading ICT4D organization,” Sarvodaya-Fusion has the right ICT knowledge to lead Sri Lanka’s next tech era. Last year, their organizing brought together 40 NGOs and hopefully many more will join this year, especially because of the support they will be receiving by a tech team from Microsoft’s Sri Lanka division. Judging by their stellar track record, looks like Sarvodaya-Fusion will be starting off 2013 on the right note and forging the path for Sri Lanka’s future in ICT4D.

For more information, please refer to the ITPro article linked below:

Reference Link: “Connecting Sri Lanka’s NGOs with ICT


Sri Lanka National ICT Resources

Sri Lanka’s most detailed and useful ICT policy can be found here.

Last updated: December 1, 2003

Published by: The World Bank

Language: English

 

Other updates to the policy can be found at this link.

There have been various reports detailing updates to the policy from 2004 to 2012.

Last updated: December 8, 2012

Published by: The World Bank

Language: English

 

Here is the website for the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka.

Here is the website for Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Telecommunications.

 

Sri Lanka’s information can be found within the EIU rankings, the Global Information Technology Report rankings, and the ITU rankings.

 

The World Bank has updated information about Sri Lanka.

 

Here is an ICT4D development movement that was helpful.

Published by: Sarvodaya

Language: English

 

While Sri Lanka is definitely growing in the ICT sector, it can be difficult to find specific information about the projects that they have done and their policies. This lack of information made some of the research confusing and challenging at times. I would not discourage you from choosing Sri Lanka, however, because I found it to be very interesting. There is some good information out there, and hopefully this eases the searching.


Global CyberLympics – A Competition for Hackers

After listening to Ralph Russo discuss cyber attacks and cyber security, I was interested in seeing how Sri Lanka was involved in these movements. While there is not a lot of news offered about Sri Lanka’s policies, I did come across this interesting competition of sorts. Global CyberLympics, it is called, is “the biggest hackathon on the planet.” For hackers worldwide, this competition is driven by awareness and peace-keeping intentions and is endorsed by the UN’s Cybersecurity arm as well as countless other cybersecurity agencies. Why would there be such a competition? In order to promote awareness on ethical hacking and to help connect foreign ethical hackers, teams compete in a series of hacker games. Early rounds include “snooping, tracking attacks, and analyzing network weaknesses.” Later, teams actively hack, “capturing and then defending their piece of the network against everybody else.”

Sri Lanka, surprisingly, came in with a six-member team and made it to the finals in the end of October. According to the Global CyberLympics Twitter page, Sri Lanka ranked 8th in the world, losing to countries such as Nigeria, Brazil, Australia, and the Netherlands. They lost in the Capture the Flag skill challenge, outlined here along with the other round challenges. Ironically, Sri Lanka does well in this competition, while they struggle with ICTs in many areas.


OLPC: Sri Lanka

Because One Laptop Per Child, as we learned in class, does not think about the logistics of many of the places in which they are implementing their laptops, the outcome is not always successful. In Sri Lanka, the country that I am studying, OLPC has had positive and negative effects. One-to-one computing, as this article critiquing the technology discusses, has impacted certain areas in schools in Sri Lanka for many reasons. However, the article states that OLPC should extend their pilot project, focusing on poor rural areas.

Sri Lanka puts an emphasis on content development in schools and teachers and parents, often times, are very committed. For this reason, the one-to-one computing changed the way of teaching. The new technology can be a great help to teachers and the learning process. For the first time, students in one school in Sri Lanka “found Mathematics to be fun.” Unfortunately, though, the XO computers are not very robust and not quite designed correctly. There is a support team for OLPC in Sri Lanka, but schools could wait for months to get a broken laptop repaired or replaced. The absence of Internet access also poses a typical problem in schools in these areas. Teachers recommend that the OLPC program should make the content more flexible and updatable to improve teaching and learning opportunities as well.

This is a teaching session in the Palmunai OLPC School using the XO laptops in Sri Lanka.

The schools that were studied in this critique were located in rural Sri Lanka. Further studies should be done near the former war zone to see the effects there. While OLPC in Sri Lanka proves to be successful in some aspects, problems with connectivity, repairs, updates, and access seem to be continuous. Hopefully OLPC can work out these kinks so that these learning opportunities can be even better for students around the world.