In an exchange of e-mails some weeks ago with Mark Graham from the Oxford Internet Institute, I ended up drafting the outline of what an introduction to e-readiness and to measuring the Information Society could look like.
It has become usual to criticise (and I agree with that) the lack of monitoring and evaluation practices in ICT4D projects — see e.g. the latest example I’ve read about it in the interesting Worst practice in ICT use in education by Michael Trucano — and, notwithstanding, little attention is given in ICT4D courses to the macro indicators related with development and the Information Society, that is:
- What are the different concepts of e-readiness and the digital divide;
- what are the different models that are addressing this question at the quantitative level (Gillwald, Sciadas, ITU, UNCTAD, the World Economic Forum, the Economist Intelligence Unit, The World Bank, Waverman, etc.) and
- what are the main tools that “everyone” is using to measure infrastructures, usage, etc. related to the digital economy.
According to this, now follow what I think would be the basics in an introduction to the concepts and tools around the measurement of the Information Society.
In my opinion, I think there’s a huge revolution in the way the Information Society is measured in 2003 with George Sciadas‘s work Monitoring the Digital Divide… and Beyond that ended up in his acclaimed report From the Digital Divide to Digital Opportunities, being this second reference a perfect starting point for this whole subject.
An adaptation of this methodology (and an interesting reflection) for the case of Africa can be found in Towards an African ICT e-Index: Towards evidence based ICT policy in Africa by Alison Gillwald and Christoph Stork.
Sciadas‘s methodology became somewhat mainstream when was adopted by the International Telecommunication Union to build their ICT Development Index (IDI), which is a merger of two previous indices: ITU’s Digital Opportunity Index (an infrastructure-biased index) and UNCTAD’s ICT Opportunity Index (the first adaptation of Sciadas’s).
Information about the ICT Development Index can be mainly found in:
- Measuring the Information Society – The ICT Development Index 2009
- Measuring the Information Society 2010
Besides ITU’s index (which we can assume as to have become the “official” United Nations’ Index), I think it would be very good worth mentioning other international and well reputed indices/tools like:
- The World Bank’s Knowledge Assessment Methodology (see also KAM);
- The World Economic Forum’s Networked Readiness Index; and
- the Economist Intelligence Unit’s e-Readiness Rankings.
To end up this introducion, four more recommendations:
- e-Readiness overview, for a definition to the concept of e-Readiness;
- Real Access / Real Impact Criteria, with a list of 12 criteria that define “real access” to ICTs;
- Comparison of e-readiness assessment models and tools, for a list and comment of a (now outdated) list of models and tools; and
- Measuring digital development for policy-making: Models, stages, characteristics and causes, for a deep analysis of tools and (55) models.
If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:
Peña-López, I. (2010) “e-Readiness and measuring the Information Society 101” In ICTlogy,
#80, May 2010. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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