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The phase change from information and communication technologies for international development (ICT4D) 1.0 to ICT4D 2.0 presents opportunities for informatics professionals and offers new markets for ICT vendors. It also brings new challenges to our established methods of working and emphasizes the need for new expertise and new world views.
Where ICT4D 1.0 marginalized the poor, allowing a supply-driven focus, ICT4D 2.0 centralizes them, creating a demand-driven focus. Where ICT4D 1.0 characterized the poor largely as passive consumers, ICT4D 2.0 sees them as active producers and innovators.
Jonathan Donner, Rikin Gandhi, Paul Javid, Indrani Medhi, Aishwarya Ratan, Kentaro Toyama, and Rajesh Veeraraghavan
In the area of research known as information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D), engineers work with social scientists to develop novel solutions to the challenges faced by the world's poorest communities. In most cases, these challenges can't be met simply by providing a useful technology—it also requires considerations of local economy, cultural norms, and stakeholder needs.
The Technology for Emerging Markets group at Microsoft Research India faces these kinds of problems daily. The solutions, however, rarely come easily and require extensive time in the field, honesty about what does and does not work, and a willingness to accept technically simple solutions.
Because technology becomes cheaper and more powerful over time, digital device designers assume they will be able to overcome any limitations eventually, as the technology will ultimately become small enough, fast enough, or cheap enough to let developers do what they want. So, from fairly unpromising beginnings, the "tool" of Moore's law can create astounding solutions.
The power of Moore's law also makes it seductive and can blind developers to alternative design solutions. Yet we can build creative solutions using old hardware and leveraging more from existing platforms.
Sonesh Surana, Rabin Patra, Sergiu Nedevschi, and Eric Brewer
A primary concern for information and communication technologies projects supported by aid programs to underdeveloped nations is sustainability. The reasons for ICT failures vary, but at the core is an underappreciation of the many obstacles that limit the transition from a successful pilot to a truly sustainable system.
The authors' experiences as members of the Technology and Infrastructure for Emerging Regions group at UC Berkeley, which is helping to deploy a Wi-Fi-based network in rural India to enable high-quality videoconferencing between eye hospitals and remote village clinics, indicate that any such project must exhibit three important principles to be sustainable: optimization of an existing system, financial self-sufficiency, and operational self-sufficiency.
Claudia Bauzer Medeiros
In 2006, the Brazilian Computer Society (SBC) put forward research proposals to address work in one of the five computer science Grand Research Challenges. Representing five broad long-term research directions, these challenges are intimately related with issues whose solution will advance science and have technological, social, and economic impact in Brazil.
SBC led the effort to identify these challenges because it detected the need for novel proactive actions to foster long-term planning and research in computer science in Brazil. Further, SBC hoped to enhance cooperation with other scientific domains and provide input to public R&D policymakers.
Ireland's recent economic growth has been as dramatic as it was unexpected. Yet some might not fully realize the extent to which information and communication technologies, particularly software, have been central to this growth. During the past three decades, clusters have been formed in niche areas such as integrated circuit manufacture, telecommunications infrastructure, and software localization. Now, more than 900 software companies in Ireland directly employ 32,000 people.
With total revenues of 12 billion euros, these firms account for 10 percent of Ireland's gross domestic product. Nine of the world's top 10 software companies have significant operations in Ireland, which now faces the key challenge of sustaining this remarkable development in a changing world.