Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (XI). Paolo Brunello: Netmap Workshop

Notes from the Fourth IPID ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium 2009, held in the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, United Kingdom, on September 11-12th, 2009. More notes on this event: ict4d_symposium_2009.

Netmap Workshop
Paolo Brunello

Netmap is a very interesting tool to trace power and influence in networks. The idea is identifying the main authors in a network (e.g. the actors in an ICT4D project: NGOs involved, donors, government, local leaders, beneficiaries, etc.) and see how each actor is linked to the other ones and what’s their respective relationship in terms of influence. A last step in Netmap’s methodology implies identifying also each actor’s goals and then be able to figure out the reachability of such goals considering the influence relationships in the network.

The procedure is as follows: in a big sheet of paper, actors are pictured and then influence arrows are drawn between actors. There are several ways to understand influence. Paolo Brunello proposes the following, adapting the methodology to development projects:

  • Money: who’s giving funds to who. E.g. national aid agency to NGO;
  • Command: to is in a position to command over other people (and who are these people, of course). E.g. the Ministry of Education to the school directors;
  • Information: who is feeding others with information they need. E.g. the health care centre about the number of patients per person and year;
  • Influence: understood here as who has ascendant over others or has an acknowledged authority in a field. E.g. a reputed colleague in the field of ICT4D over you.

Once the several arrows are drawn, influence-towers are built with the help of actor figurines and flat round stackable discs (see the references below). Thus, it is easier to identify who has more influence and, most important, how the differences in influence can ease or play havoc on achieving the final goals of a project developed by that network.

Netmap rules are understood at a glance but it’s apparent simplicity does not subtract from its huge explanatory power. Being very visual, the outcome of the exercise is not only a most interesting map of the relationships of influence, but also a roadmap you should follow (or struggle to redefine, whatever you’re able to…) to increase the chances of success to achieve some specific goals.

More Information

Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2009)

Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (X). Inclusion and Remote Communities

Notes from the Fourth IPID ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium 2009, held in the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, United Kingdom, on September 11-12th, 2009. More notes on this event: ict4d_symposium_2009.

Inclusion through e-Learning in remote Northern areas of Pakistan
Alamdar Khan Sahiar

Project focused in training teachers and trainers, raising awareness through ICT tools (i.e. e-Learning) about basic issues like Health, Education, Sanitation or Micro Credit.

Goals are to create a community action plan through e-learning and awareness raising in a remote location, using local languages (i.e. neither English nor Urdu), ICT infrastructures and ICT awareness, and delivering content.

As even dial-up connections are difficult to attain, content is delivered offline through memory sticks.

The focus in e-learning — instead of face-to-face or traditional learning — is due to the difficulty for teachers to travel from small villages to the capital and the territorial dispersion of these teachers.

Analysis of ICT Policies and Plans in 23 Muslim countries — level of women considerations
Salma Abbasi

Main goal: Development framework for holistic inclusion of women in the Knowledge Society in Pakistan. “Women” and not “Gender” because there are many details that get obscured when talking about “gender” in general.

Research questions

  • How do women use ICTs and what’s the impact
  • What are the cultural and social barriers and constraing faced by Muslim women?
  • What recommendations from the field can we do?
  • What level of women considerations can be or are included in ICT policies?

The methodology followed was to conduct interviews to elite women in 23 Muslim countries + 72 focus groups in Pakistan. Then, a keyword search was performed to analyse texts on ICT policies and see, for instance, whether the word “woman/women” was used in these policies. For each policy that did considerate women, a second analysis was done by using 17 elements of considerations: employment in ICT, job opportunities, economic impact, remote tele-working… In other words: the idea was, in out of 17 “topics” or subjects dealt with in ICT policies, to find in which of them the woman factor was directly addressed.

Results show that the main elements with the woman factor are related to employment in ICT, education, economic impact, the values of social engagement, etc.

Then, 51 women specific barriers (identified in fieldwork, e.g. sexist language) were also identified in ICT policies. Most countries do not touch any of the barriers.

Third part of the research deals with the policy formulation process: the influence of the women’s involvement, the consultative process, the guidelines and toolkits, and the benchmarking.

In general, we see that there’s no focus in “women” in ICT policies, and no “ICT” focus in gender policies. Same with disabled people and most collectives in risk of exclusion.

Better integration of immigrants in Swedish local society through ICTs
Shakhawat Hossain Bhuiyan & Sayed Wakar Naqvi

Immigrants use Internet to search information, but information is limited in tghe municipality websitges, specially in Swedish, English and just sometimes other languages. The amount of information varies from language to language and there is a lack of information about the job market.

The aim of this research is to identify the communication gap and to maximize the usages of ICT for better integration.

Research questions:

  • What is the immigrant’s potential in terms of ICT usage, specially in Internet usage?
  • What is the immigrant’s desire towards Swedish culture and social values
  • What are the present facilities and resources for the immigrant?
  • How ICT could be used for better integration?

The theoretical framework is Hiller and Belanger’s (2001) e-Government Teleology to frame a survey to new immigrants learning Swedish language, and interviews to administrative staffs, teachers and students to know existing integration system and in what extent ICTs are used.

From the 61 persons that took part in the survey, we can see that most of them have computer and Internet at home, and more than half of them have a Bachelors degree or more and have a good level of English [this profile, along with the fact that they are following courses on Swedish language, makes us think that it is not the typical collective that comes to mind when thinking about “immigrants”, but instead, white collar high income immigrants].

One of the main conclusions is that these immigrants need awareness and support to cover their information needs, and it seems that there’s still room for improvement in how the government (state and local) fulfils these needs through their websites.

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Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2009)

Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (IX). Specialized Areas Workshop

Notes from the Fourth IPID ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium 2009, held in the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, United Kingdom, on September 11-12th, 2009. More notes on this event: ict4d_symposium_2009.

Specialized Areas Workshop
Chairs: Åke Grönlund

What’s “for Development”? Isn’t everything for the development of a community or the world as a whole? Is it “for Development” only what happens in developing countries?

On the other hand, development has to necessarily rely on institutional support and adoption. Though it can be initiated and even fostered bottom-up, governments have to acknowledge and, lastly, actively support any initiative that wants to last and have a long term impact.

Thus, institutional reform is necessary… though it is normally slow everywhere, specially in developing countries.

Discussion

Social sciences should be providing feedback to Computer Scientists on how things work and how they are used. This means not only providing information about the impact, but taking part in the design itself, to feed innovation back.

We could say that ICT4D is to developing countries what e-Commerce is to the developed world. But e-Commerce is a quickly changing “discipline”: if it’s in a handbook, it’s outdated. So, trying to build relevant and useful content on ICT4D is difficult, as it will soon be outdated too. That’s one of the reasons IT researchers and social scientists just seldom come together in the needs and the solutions.

One of the priorities of developing countries’ governments, is how to make money out of ICTs. So we have to be aware of the priorities, which normally are not that people participate more or have better access to government services.

ICT4D is a means to understand societies and cultures and how they will be using ICTs.

There is a need to go multidisciplinary and try and understand others’ points of view and, more important, to learn something about others’ disciplines, so that mutual understanding happens in a easier way.

We should be able to make money out of some e-whatever projects, so that they are seen useful and, at the same time, to make them sustainable. On the other hand, this is usually a high priority for people in developing countries. For this to happen, some capacity building and digital capabilities development would also be a high priority goal.

Three economic approaches to ICT4D:

  • make money locally, enable cash sources: this is what local beneficiaries want
  • be cost effective, efficiency, efficacy, specially in Health, Government/Democracy and Education: this is normally the agenda of Development Studies
  • ICT sector for international commerce (leapfroggers): which might have or might have not an impact in the domestic economy (but only benefit the plutocracy)

Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2009)

Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (VIII). Social Issues and Partnerships

Notes from the Fourth IPID ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium 2009, held in the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, United Kingdom, on September 11-12th, 2009. More notes on this event: ict4d_symposium_2009.

The Social Construction of ICT as a Strategy for Development in Jamaica
Michelle “afifa” Harris

Development challenges in Jamaica: high crime rate, unemployment, inadequate resources, etc.

According to the e-Readiness Report 2006, Jamaica has inadequate ICT infrastructure, limited contribution of ICT to GDP, unreliable electricity, limited Internet connectivity, low computer ownership, low innovation in the area of ICTs.

Why ICT policies, though? Are particula perspective shaping ICT policy? Are particular interpretations of realities shaping policy? What are these interpretations of the reality?

Research questions

  • How have decision makers interpreted ICT as a developemnt strategy for Jamaica?
  • How do these interpretations construct the need for using ICT as a development strategy? What are the discourses associated with this construction?

The national ICT strategies are being analysed to see what the backing discourses are, and which the underlying assumptions and conceptions around ICTs that policy-makers used in their discourses. The research, in the end, wants to provide a critical analysis on the process of policy creation and therefore the ideas and perceptions behind the adoption of National Strategies, deepening the discussion on the role of discourse in agenda setting.

Initial findings on the meanings and interpretations of ICT4D-Thematic areas:

  • Us the power of communication to make us better
  • About empowering people
  • About enabling people
  • Using the IT sector to generate development

But this was placed in the context of what “modern” development required particularly with definitions which seem to underscore the importance of creating a “knowledge based economy”.

Initial findings on the reasons for ICT as a tool for development

  • Ability to drive development
  • Necessary Government action
  • Responding to Global developments

Initial findings on the themes and areas of Discourse

  • Education and e-Learning Jamaica projects
  • Agriculture-ABIS system for Farmers
  • Community Development-Community Access Points

Open Educational Resources for Development. Let’s be realistic about its potential!
Annika Andersson & Mathias Hatakka

Do open educational resources (OER) have any impact in education and/or developing countries? There’s a good amount of literature that state one or the other one or both, so this research pursues testing it in a real environment.

The problem is how to measure the impact of OER on development, as development itself is a complex concept. So, the research will look at its use, how are they looked at and what’s the impact on development.

ICTs regarding to use: OER are seen as a commodity, supporting development activities, as a driver of economy (increases productivity, efficiency), and directed at specific activities.

ICTs views: OER as a tool (OER as seen as a way to build your own resources), computational, ensemble, proxy (OER as an enabler for empowerment).

ICTs impact: OER as a replacement, the increase of a phenomenon, OER as a transformation.

Issues/hypotheses:

  • Tertiary effects are hard to measure?
  • OERs do not contribute to development?
  • OERs are not designed in a way that they can contribute to development?
  • OERs are not used enough to have an effect?

Re-shaping ICTs for nation building: the Ethiopian case
Iginio Gagliardone

In Ethiopia there were some projects that costed a total amount of 300,000,000$, coming from the government treasury (not the donor agencies), projects that you wouldn’t find in the richest countries of the World. How did they came to think of, design and implement such projects? What was the mindset behind them? How was the political discourse embedded in technology?

In the late nineties, the minority from Tigray came to power and are since building a federalist while centralized state. There’s thus a need to decentralize to suport their ideology but also to exert a central control to make sure they can stay in power. Here is where ICTs come to the rescue.

Videoconferencing technologies for political administration, or broacasted lectures for education, are indeed being used to disseminate discourses about the nation at the grassroots level and among those in power. On the other hand, they reinforce the presence of the government around the nation (just for the record, all the web servers and their related services are hosted at the president’s seat).

This is a clear case where technology is not created to empower but to control.

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Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2009)

Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (VII). Ken Banks: Making an Impact. The Role of Mobile Phones in the Developing World

Notes from the Fourth IPID ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium 2009, held in the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, United Kingdom, on September 11-12th, 2009. More notes on this event: ict4d_symposium_2009.

Making an Impact. The Role of Mobile Phones in the Developing World
Ken Banks, Kiwanja.net

Alan Kay: The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

Ken Banks: If you can’t find the perfect job you have to create it.

Mobile adoption by users drives SMS adoption by local NGOs which is increasingly driven by a range of formal and informal economic activity. The increasing pervasiveness of mobile phones has been followed by an according pervasiveness in SMS usage.

Mobile phones give people the chance to get involved in their own development. Traditional development was not participated by the target beneficiaries. Now this have changed as ICTs and mobile phones create plenty of innovation and business opportunities.

The fact that the mobile phone creates business opportunities has been a main driver for development, becoming a revolution in developing countries.

The weird thing being that most of the information — research papers, news, development reports — always speaks of the benefits of mobile phones and SMSs but never about what specific tools were being used to reach those benefits, what was used to provide a specific service, how and what could e.g. other NGOs apply in their own work, etc.

FrontlineSMS

FrontlineSMS uses a desktop PC to send alerts via SMS, being used for health, education, coordination, etc. FrontlineSMS allows for group messaging between health workers, farmers, aid workers, etc.

FrontlineSMS can be used, for instance, to alert about an emergency in real time, even if e-mail does not work and voice communication is just not possible (because of quality of communication infrastructures, cost, etc.)

Why FrontlineSMS work:

  • Local ownership: of tool, of project, of data
  • Builds on local awareness: you don’t lead the project, you just provide the tool to the people that know about their needs and how to solve them
  • Platform is free and works on available hardware
  • Highly replicable and scalable
  • No need for the Internet
  • Easy to use
  • Responds to “their” need (bottom up)

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Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2009)

Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (VI). ICTs and Communication Workshop

Notes from the Fourth IPID ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium 2009, held in the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, United Kingdom, on September 11-12th, 2009. More notes on this event: ict4d_symposium_2009.

Communication Workshop
Chairs: Christian Christensen

Communicative practices are framed — or explicit — organizational and power structures. The interest in ICTs and communicative practices is specially in who performs what communicative practices. Under this point of view, it is also interesting to see how ICTs can impact or change organizations and power.

Discussion

How ICTs can help build communities by creating knowledge sharing systems.

What’s the purpose of communication?

Socioeconomic status, culture, trust… can act as enablers or barriers to communication.

ICTs are struggling the power structures.

[most interesting session, though difficult to report]

Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2009)