Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) for bridging digital divide

Information and Communications Technologies for Development (ICT4D) is an initiative that aims at bridging the digital divide between technologically advanced countries/regions and under-developed countries/regions. It also aims to ensure economic development by providing equal access to communication devices such as cell phones, radio, television, computer and internet etc.

There are many benefits of this movement from individual level to community level. We can easily notice that most of the countries in the world that are under some repressive regimes or non-democratic government control are usually technologically backward areas. This is one way by these regimes to prolong their reign by making people of those area away from communication devices. ICT4D has become a feature in monitoring the exploits of these repressive regimes and for drawing public attention and support to counter campaigns. The ubiquitous nature of mobile technology allow it to t become the most powerful weapon against governments who have ceased to act in the interests of their citizens.

Open source components of ICT are a seemingly natural fit with this trend. People contribute in open source projects not merely to enrich themselves financially but there are community oriented aims such as peer recognition or the work itself as enriching on a personal basis.

Other examples of ICT4D include the use of the technology in areas recently damaged by natural disasters. When an earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, much the communication infrastructure was destroyed or severely damaged. Several ICT solutions were used to aid in relief efforts including crisis mapping to identify and prioritize areas of need, the use of OS tools to monitor inventory levels and co-ordinate the relief effort and restoring Internet connectivity.

Open source and ICT can be utilized together to merge communication and information technology. This combination results in powerful solutions from a wide-range of domains. For example, data validation can serve a vital role in monitoring local elections, especially when the potential for electoral fraud is high. Monitoring projects can be established to identify unusual trends and to make the government aware that they are under scrutiny. Alternatively app’s can be developed to make qualitative data more qualitative. However, caution must be exercised in these projects. The creation of more anonymous reporting systems is one possible route around this concern. Already one system operational in India allows users to send an SMS to a central number, which then passes on the message in an anonymous manner.

Projects like this encourage the community to share solutions and then implement them via OS resources. Common objectives such as social justice are thus brought into reality.