Tag Archives: United States

Social Media Use in Developing Countries

Our class discussion this week made me nostalgic for the simple, old technology we grew up with. It seemed like we grew up in a time when technology was developing at lightning speed. It made me wonder if technology around the world is moving as fast. This article from LiveScience.com talks about social media use in developing countries versus the US. The data shows that while the US has the highest population percentage that uses the internet, 17 developing countries outrank the U.S. in the proportion of internet users who log on to social sites. In both the U.S. and Brazil, 73% of Internet users regularly access social networking sites. Egypt, Russia, the Philippines, Tunisia, Indonesia, Jordan, Venezuela, Nigeria, Turkey, Ghana, Mexico, Chile, Malaysia, Kenya, Argentina, El Salvador and Senegal all report social media use greater than 73% of Internet users. I thought this was very interesting because it seems like our society is obsessed with social media but apparently we aren’t the only ones.

The article also mentions that cellphone use is increasingly widespread outside of the US. Unlike us, however, most cellphone users don’t have smart phones. In China, for example, 95% of people have a cell phone but only 37% of those have a smart phone. In Pakistan, 53% of people have cellphones and only 3% use smartphones. Nearly every person I know in the US has an iPhone, so its interesting to see that not every society is obsessed with having the newest technology out there.

A Global Approach to the Capabilities Approach – Blog Post 3

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.

Internet Freedom in Decline Around the World

Freedom House is an index which ranks many different categories of freedoms across many nations around the world. One of the categories they assess is freedom of the net. This is an index which ranks internet freedoms around the world. From 2012-2013, 60 countries were studied. Digital media, interviews, and testing the accessibility of websites were some of the methods used to gain results. Each of the 60 countries received a number, 0 being the most free and 100 the least free. Countries which were assigned a number from 0-30 were considered free, 31-60 partly free and 61-100 not free.  A couple examples of countries that were labeled free include the Philippines, the United States, Kenya and Germany. Some examples of countries which were ranked partially free include Morocco, Thailand, Egypt and Jordan. Countries which were ranked not free include China, Sudan, Ethiopia and Cuba. What was found overall was that internet freedom worldwide is in decline, with 34 out of 60 countries assessed in the report having a negative trajectory from 2012 to 2013. There is also an decline in internet freedom over the past year. The report states that this decline is due to new laws controlling web content, the growing arrests of social media users and broad surveillance have been.

Having restrictions on the internet may cause some problems for developing countries which are just starting to actively use the internet, especially in the government, business, health and education sectors. These countries do not want to be controlled and limited to what they can a can and cannot do while surfing the web. It will be interesting to see if this negative trajectory continues in the future and how this affects developing countries and ultimately the digital divide.

For more information check about Freedom House rankings view the website here

The World Wide Battle for Health Care


This week in class we have been reviewing the role of ICTs within the health and wellness sector, as well as within the governance and government sector. The quickly changing political, technological, and medicinal landscapes not only within the developing world but within the highly developed world has meant progress in many arenas in terms of facilitating and reforming public health. It has come to my attention that since a large portion of aid and inter-sectoral projects to these LDCs has been within the purview of public health, it seems necessary to evaluate those very states that serve as the ‘examples’ of the very systems that hundreds of governments, agencies, businesses, non-profits, and NGOs are anxious to ‘replicate’. Obviously, no one state or system could possibly hold the key to the best method of administering/ overseeing the production of universal health to its citizens… or does one? This is the very question that I wish to explore and fuel with ample evidence and testimony from the field.

I also feel it would a be a disservice to this particular post, as this weeks’ posts are designed to reflect the appropriate subject area, if we do not mention the current and lively debate that is occurring within our own United States of America as the Obama administration carries out its implementation of healtcare.gov and the Affordable Care Act (aka- Obamacare).

My aim this week is to provide as many sources, documentaries, videos, op-eds, and expert testimonies as possible to provide a synthesis of data for our class to have either an in person or digital debate/conversation as to what kind of health system we feel will eventually be most effective in these very nations, tribes, communities, cities, mega-cities, and families that we all study so intently and care so much about.

I invite everyone to post and share their own reflective opinion after reading and watching what is available here to develop a well-informed, lively, and engaged discussion for this blog. Enjoy!


Ross Douthat, The New York Times, “But What if ObamaCare Works?” 10/26/2013

C.H., The Economist, “Why the Hysterics over Obamacare’s Software Glitch?” 10/23/2013

The Financial Times, Special Report: Global Health Policy, 8/01/2012 (link to a pdf)

Michael D. Tanner, The Cato Institute, “The Grass Is Not Always Greener: A Look at National Health Care Systems Around the World“, 3/18/2008

T.R. Reid, The Washington Post, “5 Myths about Health Care Around the World“, 8/23/2009

T.R. Reid, PBS: Frontline, The Four Basic Healthcare Models

John McDermott, The Financial Times, “What healthcare.gov could learn from Britain“, 10/22/2013


Professor Uwe Reinhardt, Health Economist, Princeton University, 11/10/2007

Ahmed Badat, M.D., General Practitioner, Shepherds Bush Medical Center London

Prof. Karl Lauterbach, Health Economist and Member of the German Parliament, 10/25/2007

Prof. Naoki Ikegami, Health Economist, Keio University School of Medicine

Pascal Couchepin, President of Switzerland, 10/30/2007

Nigel Hawkes, Health Editer, The Times of London, 11/1/2007

David Patterson, M.D., Consultant Physician and Cardiologist, Whittington Hospital, London


l’Organisation mondiale pour la Santé, Research for Universal Health Coverage, World Health Report 2013, August 2013 (PDF english) (PDF français) (PDF español)

Michael Tanner, The Cato Institute, Policy Analysis, “The Grass Is Not Always Greener: A Look at National Health Care Systems Around the World“, March 18, 2008 (PDF english)

World Economic Forum + McKinsey & Company, Sustainable Health Systems, January 2013 (PDF english)

OECD, Health at a Glance 2011, OECD Indicators, November 23, 2011 (organization has reports on specific regions and countries as well)

Videos + Documentaries:

PBS: Frontline, Sick Around the World, April 15, 2008

One.org compiled list of 52 youtube videos about Global Public Health

Even More Resources:

PBS: Frontline resources for their special addressing international and domestic issues here

Lessons in Disaster Preparedness

Check out this great video by Caitria and Morgan O’Neill about how to step up in the face of disaster. It has some great info about disaster prevention.

Hazards don’t always become disasters. Ideally, mitigation and risk reduction techniques equip communities with measures of preparedness that prevent threats from wreaking havoc on their infrastructure and populations. However such policies must be enacted at the government level and require significant foresight and regional cooperation that is not present in all vulnerable communities. Furthermore, prevention isn’t as chic or sexy as recovery. It’s the difference between riding in to battle on a white horse and lugging stones to build a wall; everyone wants credit as the knight in shining armor. As a result, communities are often overwhelmed with an incredible influx of donated resources following a disaster. Many outsiders want to respond for a variety of reasons, but unfortunately this response is often characterized by a lack of efficiency and coordination.

Working in the United States and Canada, the organization Recovers presents a functional infrastructure to guide communities in disaster recovery and address this fundamental issue in disaster response scenarios. The organization, created by Caitria and Morgan O’Neil after a tornado hit their hometown of Monson, Massachusetts, utilizes a framework that provides easy to use software to help communities prepare together, mitigate risk, and match resources with needs on a local level through four main features. Volunteer management channels volunteers and skills to where they are needed, case management handles cross-organization aid coordination and online as well as mobile requests, and donation databasing maps and matches local resources efficiently. Finally, Recovers functions as an information hub and community messaging center to communicate effectively within affected areas and with responders.

The key question here is whether the Recovers framework has potential applicability elsewhere in the world and implications for ICT4D. A lack of on the ground knowledge of community needs is a common reason for ICT project failure, as well as inefficiency in disaster response, and it would be wrong to assert that exact duplication of this model would be possible, as many of the areas most vulnerable to natural hazards have weak mobile and internet connectivity. However, the takeaways are still valuable, particularly with regard to the prioritization of certain needs and focus on a streamlined response process.

This is a timely concern as we in the United States end our second day of the government shutdown. Talk of furlough of non-essential personnel, suspension of preventative measures like the CDC’s seasonal flu program, and lack of updates on certain government websites remind us that of gaps in our risk reduction methods can exist here at home. Disaster preparedness is a public good, and as such a free market will not provide it in adequate quantity. Recovers reminds us that readiness is not glamorous, but it makes disasters a lot less ugly.

Millennium Development Goals: Whose Really Working Towards Achieving Them?

This week in class we discussed the 2015 millennium development goals. These goals are to 1.) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, 2.) Achieve universal primary education, 3.) Promote gender equality and empower women, 4.) Reduce child mortality, 5.) Improve maternal health, 6.) Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, 7.) Ensure environmental sustainability, 8.) Instill a global partnership for development.  All 191 United Nation member states agreed to work towards these 8 goals and make them a priority by 2015.

While discussing these goals the class wondered whether countries like the United States, Sweden and Denmark, which are considered some of the most “developed” and advanced countries in the world are striving to reach these goals. All three of these countries are UN member states, and therefore should be focused on reaching these goals. The United States doesn’t seem focused on these goals. They aren’t being talked about, publically displayed and most people don’t even no what they are. In order to reach these goals and really create change, it is important to have the help of the citizens, the people who will really see the affect of these changes.

Although these are very important goals and every nation around the world need to and should work towards meeting them, working towards these goals might not benefit all 191 member states, specifically the one’s that are considered “developed”. Richard Heeks, in his article “ICTS and the MDGs: On the Wrong Track?” states “We ought to at least to be considering some different priorities if we want to make effective use of the opportunities that new technology affords.” Countries that are considered “developed” could be using technology and other resources to better their societies. These countries could also use their resources to help other countries that are struggling to effectively reach these goals.  America has access to ICTs and maybe should focus on using them more efficiently and effectively.

Connect 2 Compete

The Digital Divide is a in the developed world as well as the developing world. Within the US there are still millions of people who do not yet have access to the Internet. Connect 2 Compete is a non-profit organization that is working to close the Digital Divide in the US. The mission of this organization is to connect every American to the Internet. Instead of giving everyone Internet for free, which would be unrealistic, Connect 2 Compete makes low-cost options available. It simply asks you to enter your zip code and answer a few other questions to see if you are eligible for these options. The internet companies that give low cost options through Connect 2 Compete are FreedomPop, Comcast, Cox, Wilco, Bright House, and Mediacom. All of these companies require you to live in one of the 14,000 zip codes in which they work to be eligible for low-cost Internet. In addition to the zip code, all of the organizations with the exception of FreedomPop and Wilco require a child in the household to be eligible to receive free school lunch through the National School Lunch Program.

In addition to low-cost Internet options, Connect 2 Compete sells refurbished computers to qualifying users for $150 and allows everyone to find free Internet and computer training classes in their area. This helps people overcome barriers to not using the Internet, such as not having the money or not understanding how to use a computer or the Internet. I like that Connect 2 Compete is helping people within the United States get access to the Internet and computers. Although the Digital Divide is a problem internationally, there has also been a Digital Divide within the United States as well. Allowing everyone in the US to have access to the Internet may be able to increase the online market, increase work that small businesses can do, as well as make it easier for recent graduates or the unemployed to find jobs.

As Connect 2 Compete started nationwide in the Fall of 2012, evaluations about whether or not the program has been effective are not yet available. Time will tell if they have been able to make progress towards the goal of Internet access for all Americans. As of now, the only criticism that I have is that until I read about the organization in an article, I had never heard of it. Although there is supposedly a campaign to get the word out, I do not believe that the scope of the campaign has been big enough. Connect 2 Compete has a great mission and it is important for everyone to have the opportunity to become a part of it.



Cyber Security Measures in the U.S.

Our guest speaker Ralph Russo, professor at Tulane University in the Homeland Security Program, discussed all things Cyber Security with us today. He mentioned the concept of malware or malevolent software that essentially allows hackers to gain access to information, disrupt a computer’s operation or perform whatever actions the hacker desires. One of the main issues he brought up is the United States’ concern about malware being on U.S. devices bought from China. I decided to look into this a little bit more and found the following article.

The article outlines a “new provision of the government’s latest spending law requires three federal agencies — NASA and the departments of Justice and Commerce — to buy gear only after performing a cyber-security risk assessment carried out in consultation with law-enforcement agencies”. This is because the government is worried about its important agencies and the threat of cyber attacks to them. There are many U.S. suspicions against China’s participation in cyber attacks on the U.S. Particularly because a U.S. research firm claimed “to have traced numerous cyber attacks to a specific unit of China’s People’s Liberation Army, one operating within a particular building in Shanghai.”

The threat of cyber attacks is growing therefore cyber security is an extremely relevant topic in today’s world. However, fortunately this is not an unknown threat to our government and cyber security measures are starting to be implemented as the newest law exemplifies.

Richard Heeks Strikes Again – Non-ICT4D National Policy Can Determine Success of ICT4D Initiatives

For this blogpost, I decided to look up some blogs that consider the topics we’ve discussed in class this week. I found ICT4DBlog, which features an article about why some ICT4D initiatives work and why others don’t. I read the article and thought it would make a great discussion topic, considering our discussion in class today about how national policy is often a driving force of the success of ICT4D initiatives, even if it is not certain that all elements of this policy will be implemented.

After having finished reading the article, I glanced up to see who the author was, and lo and behold, it was Richard Heeks!  I hadn’t heard of the man until a week ago (we read his article “ICTs and the MDGs: On the Wrong Track?”), but since then, I’ve learned about how he feels about the MDGs and how he feels development should occur. I agree with him on several points, but I’ll leave that aside for now and sum up the points he made in this article, “The Obama Presidency and ICT4D”.

Disclaimer: This article is from November 2008, but I believe it makes some important points.

It seems that at the outset of his presidency, President Obama did not specifically make ICT4D a policy priority, but he has put forth “policy stances” that promote 3 areas that do affect ICT4D:

  1. Technology: increase ICT infrastructure; promote “e-transparency” through increased ICT usage in the government
  2. Trade: reduce trade barriers; increase the prevalence of the “Made in America” phenomenon
  3. Foreign Policy/Development: increase aid from $25 billion to $50 billion by 2012 (not achieved according to Politifact); increase investment in AIDS/Tuberculosis/Malaria Global Fund and Global Education Fund; promote African entrepreneurship and access to “green technology”

Heeks is quick to point out that “support” of ICT and development do not necessarily translate to a combination of these two areas. And any relationship between the two is dependent upon the three areas mentioned above, as politics can carry forward or crush initiatives without even noticing.

Interestingly enough, Heeks believes that politics itself may have been changed by ICT. It’s possible that Obama’s campaign may have projected a “‘do-as-I-do'”  impact upon developing countries by unconsciously promoting “‘e-democracy,'” which came about as a result of his campaign engaging people in the political process through the internet.

As we learned in class today, policy stances do not equal guaranteed action. Policies are guidelines to help a country determine its priorities and to try to achieve the necessary changes within a reasonable amount of time. As we stand at the already-realized future of this 2008 article, it’s still unclear whether ICT4D  has itself become a national policy priority, but it is safe to say that ICT has been greatly utilized in most development projects.

The Digital Divide at Home

As students studying International Development, it’s often hard for many of us to remember that many of the “issues” we perceive to be challenges in only developing countries are actually also present in our own communities.

“Girard College Focuses on ‘Bridging the Digital Divide’ During MLK Day of Service” helps us to remember that many Americans lack access to things that can improve their lives, especially technology. To commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr.,  a day of service was held in Philadelphia, and one of the service initiatives included a donation of netbooks by Girard College to 150 residents of the Philadelphia Housing Authority. The service also included helping residents learn how to use the computers, the internet, and to utilize online resources to help them find jobs and to apply for schools. According to the article, “‘Forty-one percent of Philadelphia households don’t have access to the Internet,'” a figure that seems, at least to me, astonishing for a relatively large city in the United States. The article stresses how important computer and internet skills are crucial to success in this modern era. 

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School District also served its community on MLK Day by providing 50 students and their families with “free computer and internet access for one year.” The lucky students watched a video, “‘How computers are used in education today,’” an apt reminder of the wide use of technology in classrooms.This digital gift is important because many students do not have computers at home, which can make it difficult for them to do assignments and to keep up technologically and socially with peers who do have computer and internet access at home.

Finally, technology also factored into service on MLK Day in the Champagne, Urbana, and Savoy communities in Illinois. UC2B (Urbana-Champagne Big Broadband), “an intergovernmental consortium of the University of Illinois and the cities of Urbana and Champaign dedicated to building and operating an open-access fiber-optic broadband network throughout the Champaign-Urbana area,” was looking for a way to spend its “community benefit” funds. Through these funds, UC2B hopes to eliminate the “digital divide” in its communities. Although how these funds will be used has not been yet determined, suggestions have been made that echo what both Girard College and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School District have done – donating computers and internet services and teaching community members how to use both. However, a more interesting suggestion has been to increase employment opportunities in the community by “provid[ing] job training for the installation of fiber optic material to area homes.” This would certainly help citizens in more than one way.

All in all, although our country does not have as significant a “digital divide” as developing countries, there are many Americans who are marginalized by their inability to access certain technologies. It is clear, however, that institutions and individuals are helping to close this divide, and as students, we can also help with this effort.