ICT4D

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“Access to information literally saves lives”: free access to UpToDate in LMICs

This week, Yannis Valtis joined us for a short conversation about a new paper he and colleagues recently published in BMJ Global Health. Their study Read More

Facebook’s Free Basics Incubator

Facebook and its Internet.org initiative (now called ‘Free Basics’), have faced their fair share of criticism, but I’m guessing that neither is going away anytime soon. So, here’s something that may be of interest to folks working with and/or designing mobile tools for lower income populations or those with lower end phones. Praekelt Foundation is partnering with Facebook on an open source toolkit of technologies and strategies that will open the Free Basics platform to more organizations and/or tech developers to adapt existing services or create new ones for distribution through the web and the Free Basics platform. Praekelt Foundation will be running this incubator for Free Basics. It will provide 100 social change organizations with tools, service and support worth a total of $200,000

The 5 Most Effective Educational Technology Interventions in LMICs

There is enormous interest and investment in the potential of educational technology (edtech) to improve the quality of teaching and learning in low and lower-middle income countries. The primary aim of the DfID-funded Educational Technology Topic Guide is to contribute to what we know about the relationship between edtech and educational outcomes. Taking evidence from over 80 studies, the guide addresses the overarching question: What is the evidence that the use of edtech, by teachers or students, impacts teaching and learning practices, or learning outcomes? It also offers recommendations to support advisors to strengthen the design, implementation and evaluation of programmes that use edtech. Educational technology was defined as the use of digital or electronic technologies and materials to support teaching and learning.

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5 Tools for Secure Communications and Data Storage

Many local partner organizations that international development actors engage with face risks while operating in challenging – and sometimes dangerous – environments. Some civil societies now face push backs from their governments and confront a closing space to function in, while others operate in fragile states where violence hinders progress. My organization, Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) is no exception and we have partners in a range of countries in such circumstances – from Ukraine to Afghanistan – doing tremendous work to create a more sustainable democratic and economic communities. To support such organizations maneuver in difficult environments, the following are five mobile or online tools that could be used to strengthen the local organizations’ digital security. Be sure to suggest data security session ideas at MERL Tech 2016 and register now to participate on October 3-4, 2016 in Washington, DC.


The Future Is Now: How to Write About ICT4Edu Accurately in 2016

After a year of conferences and education trade shows, I am convinced that my fellow technologists and development experts are not fully realizing the radical change that innovation, by which I mean technology, and of that, just digital communications, is metamorphosing education. We MUST radically change the way we report on ICT4Edu to mirror this metamorphosis! In today’s world, technology is everywhere and enables everything – except education. For the most part, education is still shackled by the 19th century sausage machine that at its best takes in children and spits out adults trained to work in factories, obediently following orders and never thinking for themselves. Or as we know, in many parts of the world, not even doing that, but failing every child in every school – just look at all the iNGOs photos of poor children in dilapidated village schools.


4 Secrets to ICTforAg Social and Behavior Change Communication

Most ICTforAg projects have specific behavior change goals. For example, the goal may be for farmers to change their practices to improve soil quality. Or for farmers to adopt a new ICT technology to understand weather patterns. How do you ensure this new behavior change will be successfully adopted?


Congratulations to Bhutan! Now a Global ICTforAg Leader

With the recent publication of its e-RNR (renewable natural resources) masterplan, the tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan has joined an exclusive club of only a handful of countries globally, including Rwanda and Côte d’Ivoire, to have a concerted national strategy for how to use ICT in agriculture. While many countries have some mention of ICT for agriculture or e-agriculture in national level strategies, such as India, Bangladesh, and the Caribbean Community, they tend to be either a brief reference to agriculture in national ICT plans or a brief reference to ICT in national agriculture plans. Considering the diversity and complexity of the agriculture sector, as well as its sheer size (a third of the world’s workforce are in agriculture), you wouldn’t be wrong in wondering how a few paragraphs in a national ICT or agriculture plan would be sufficient. Given this, it shouldn’t be surprising that ICT for agriculture, despite some successes, generally has not had the same level of impact yet as ICT in other sectors, such as health or education, which have often—but certainly not always—been a bit more organized. There are a number of reasons for this, which I won’t get into here, but one reason may just be the lack of coherent national visions and inclusive action plans aimed specifically at ICT and agriculture that help to align all actors (from regulators to large agribusinesses and technology firms all the way down to smallholder farmers) on a common path


Why Yes, Pokemon Go Is Relevant to Digital Development!

The runaway success of mobile game Pokemon Go has many of us scratching our heads in disbelief: More people are swiping balls at monsters than using Twitter? They’re spending more time with imaginary creatures than with imaginary friends on Facebook? And all this happened in a single week!? For the ICT4D community, the game’s jump from zero to 20 million users (by some estimates) since its launch on July 6 prompts some further questions: Can we reach that kind of scale? And is this even relevant to our work, if most people we serve don’t have smartphones?


Please RSVP Now for MERL Tech 2016 and Submit Your Session Ideas

The use of technology for monitoring, evaluation research and learning (MERL) has become increasingly sophisticated and more openly accepted in the international development and humanitarian space. We find ourselves continually pushing forward and asking: What’s next? How can we advance our work? What is the role for new technologies in improving our practice?


9 Data Sets to Improve Your ICTforAg Programs

At the recent ICTforAg Conference, the “What Works for Ag Data: Apps, Tools, and Visualizations” session brought together three digital development professionals to discuss data analysis and presentation tools: Matthew Cooper of Conservation International Tilly Josephson of Vera Solutions Michael Shoag of Forum One Existing Data Sets One of the more interesting aspects of their session were a number of existing agriculture data sets that Michael Shoag that organizations could use to start their data analysis, or enhance the data organizations already have: World Bank Datasets: Free and open macro-level data about countries around the globe, which can serve as a baseline for analysis. FAO STAT: A plethora of regularly updated global food and agriculture data, including production, trade, prices, food security, emissions, forestry, etc. Green Growth Knowledge Platform: Allows for comparison of a variety of data in green growth, including country, indicators and sectors. USDA Foreign Agriculture Service: The best data for international trade and agriculture data, though the website itself has a very dated look.


We Need to Close the ICTforAg Partnership Gap

There was one panel discussion that really stuck in my mind from last week’s ICT4Ag conference, and in particular one speaker: Chris Burns from USAID during the plenary on How Can ICT Increase Food Security? This is not some fawning post to please the donor, but a true appreciation for the content of what Chris said and his eloquence in getting at what I see as really the heart of the matter in any ICT4D work: smart partnerships that leverage comparative advantages. It Takes a Village High-quality ICT work is never the result of one single organization’s efforts; by its very nature it involves multiple parties, from the content creators and the technologists to the channel providers and end users. Despite this inherent need for strong partnerships, we still struggle as a sector to execute on this knowledge—papers have been written about this topic, conference sessions convened, donor dollars put forth to address it. Too often we see development organizations trying, and failing, to do it all—either on their own or through ad-hoc initiatives by allocating a significant budget for a mobile messaging campaign without any funds to develop quality content, or launching a huge mobile data collection effort using a poorly designed tool that has a bad user experience and thus low usability


ICT4Peace at Lions Club Zurich Metropole on Cybersecurity as an international challenge for…

ICT4Peace’s Daniel Stauffacher was invited by the Lions Club Zurich Metropole to give a presentation on 7 June 2016 on the mission of the ICT4Peace Foundation as a policy and action-oriented think tank, to promote cybersecurity and a peaceful cyberspace through international negotiations with governments, companies and non-state actors, and to champion the use of ICTs and media for Crisis management, humanitarian aid and peace building. In particular he mentioned its work since 2004 on improving crisis information management systems of the United Nations at Headquarters and in the field by using modern ICTs and new media. The Cyber-war-threat as an international challenge for states and companies was the main point of his presentation


The Low-Tech Way to Reach Everyone on Earth

We often focus on new technologies – developing the newest app or handing every teacher a tablet – as if they are magic bullets to solving the world’s development problems. While it would be great if this were true, if “innovation” was indeed the answer, we know that the reality is not so simple. A recent article in The Guardian cautions practitioners to “avoid the lure of the shiny gadget”, arguing that the best tech doesn’t need to be the newest tech, a lesson that rings true for us at Equal Access. Our experience is in accordance with other practitioners in ICT4D who argue that older technologies cannot be dismissed, and that technology convergence, rather than the latest new ICT, holds greater transformative potential. The Low-Tech Answer: FM Radio and IVR FM radio is still the most pervasive medium of information in the developing world, with usage and access close to 100% in almost every country


“Access to information literally saves lives”: free access to UpToDate in LMICs

This week, Yannis Valtis joined us for a short conversation about a new paper he and colleagues recently published in BMJ Global Health. Their study Read More


What is the Role of ICT4D in the Sustainable Development Goals?

Now the Sustainable Development Goals are with us, what are the implications for ICT4D? A recent discussion held by members of the Centre for Development Informatics gave some pointers. The MDGs have run their course, achieving a mixed bag of success. The post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – an ambitious set of 17 goals and 169 targets – take over the proverbial baton in the global race towards achieving, what has been described as “the world we want”. There are criticisms of the efficacy of these types of goals and the processes by which they are derived.


User-Generated Content: Critical Yet Missing From ICT4D

Today, user-generated content dominates the first world’s online experience. User-generated content (UGC) can inform (Wikipedia), respond (Quora), recommend (Yelp), support commerce (eBay), organize around causes (Kickstarter), collaborate (Github), or entertain (YouTube). A typical media consumer in the West spends as much time with UGC, 5.4 hours/day, as all traditional radio, print, and television media types combined. Based on the trends, UGC may be the dominant (50%+) content segment in the next 10 years, or more than the 30% of UGC-based media consumption of western audiences today. Our peers – known and unknown – can tap into this content online and engage easily, enriching the existing content, their own knowledge, and the collective experience


ICT4Peace on G7 Principles and Actions on Cyber: “Give Peace a Chance”

The G7 summit meeting hosted by Japan May 26-27 2016 issued a document entitled “G7 Principles and Actions on Cyber”. The text contains strong commitments in the field of human rights, but it also highlights the challenge of achieving international cooperation on cyber security against a backdrop of deteriorating geopolitical relations between leading cyber and military powers. In this crucial realm of international cyber security, which acts as an enabler for much of the socio-economic benefits to be derived from the Internet, the pronouncements from the G7 summit are not all that reassuring


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