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Information Technology

Sensitizing development challenges through virtual reality

Bassam Sebti's picture

There is a round metal tray surrounded by four children and their parents. In it, there are plates filled with instant noodles, hummus, lebne, olives and pickled eggplant. I look left and there is a silver tea pot. I look right and my eyes catch a plastic bag of pita bread.
The tray is put on an unfinished concrete floor covered with a bunch of heavy winter blankets. The brick walls are partially covered with bedding sheets, while heavy winter clothes are hanging on a water pipe.
I lift my head up. I see a light bulb hanging from an unfinished cement ceiling. When I look back down, I see a toddler approaching me trying to poke my eyes, until I realize that I am not actually there and she is only trying to poke the 360 camera!

The Digital Divide: a challenge to overcome in tackling climate change

John Roome's picture
Students from Tonga's Tailulu College making the most of new high-speed broadband services at 2013 World Telecommunication and Information Society Day celebrations in the the Tongan capital, Nuku'alofa. Nukua'lofa, Tonga. Photo: Tom Perry / World Bank

Try to imagine a world without the Internet.

Impossible, isn’t it?

Over the past 25 years, the Internet has become the nervous system of our society, interconnecting all the different parts of our everyday lives. Our social interactions, ways of doing business, traveling and countless other activities are supported and governed by this technology.

At this very moment, just over three billion people are connected to the Internet, 105 billion emails are being sent, two million blog posts have just been written (including this one) and YouTube has collected four billion views. These numbers give you a glimpse of the extent to which humanity is intimately and deeply dependent on this technology.

The digital revolution has changed the daily lives of billions of people. But what about the billions who have been left out of this technological revolution?

This and many other questions have been addressed in the just released 2016 World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends, which examines how the Internet can be a force for development, especially for poor people in developing countries.

In the lead up to Nairobi, is there hope for global trade governance?

Anabel Gonzalez's picture
 World Trade Organization

The World Bank Group has often argued that delivering outcomes in WTO negotiations around the core issues of the Doha Round is critically important for developing countries. Let’s take one example: with three-quarters of the world’s extreme poor living in rural areas, fulfilling the Doha Round mandate on agriculture could make a real contribution to the Bank Group’s goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.
But recent news reports on global trade talks suggest that WTO Members are finding it hard to develop a shared vision on key issues and are unlikely to deliver significant progress at the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi from December 15-18. Efforts are being made to produce outcomes on important issues like export competition in agriculture but large gaps remain only one week before the Ministerial Conference.
This continued impasse on the Doha Round is indeed a significant missed opportunity, but should this be cause for despair about the future of global trade governance? We don’t think so. There have been developments in the global trade agenda that are worthy of our attention, which should provide some hope in the lead-up to the Nairobi conference that with political will, it is possible to move forward. Here are five of these developments:  

Co-creating solutions for smart cities

Victor Mulas's picture
Earlier this year, the World Bank partnered with Chile's Ministry of Transport and Telecommunication on a project to innovate technology and mobility solutions: Smart City Gran Concepción. So far, the project has met two milestones, ideation (in January) and formation of a diagnostic and strategic support plan (in March).

Last month, it was time for the project's third phase: a competition to surface new ideas for mass transit options, road safety and mobility information. This event, called the MueveTT Innovation Challenge, brought together 14 teams of people to brainstorm ways for the government, companies, universities, organizations, citizens, and others to work together toward the vision of smart cities.
Co-Creation of Solutions Competition

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Tech Crunch
How The Future of Mobile Lies in the Developing World

“In less than three decades, the mobile phone has gone from being a status symbol to being a ubiquitous technology that facilitates almost every interaction in our daily lives. One month after the world’s population topped 7 billion in October 2011, the GSM Association announced that mobile SIM cards had reached 6 billion. A 2009 study in India illustrated that every 10 percent increase in mobile penetration leads to a 1.2 percent increase in GDP.

Yet patterns of mobile phone use in developing countries are vastly different from what you see on the streets of New York, San Francisco, and Berlin. This is a market underserved by technologists and startups. This is where the majority of future growth lies, and Silicon Valley has yet to realize the huge economic opportunities for network operators, handset developers, and mobile startups. Where are these opportunities?”  READ MORE

The wisdom in African crowds

Aly-Khan Satchu's picture

"Erica Hagen in her piece in Development Outreach talks of the map Kibera effort being a ' first step toward local ownership and creation of shared information.' And in that comment I feel she has hit the nail on the head.'

As an investor, you throw in the previously quite entrenched Africa perception gap and you have a very interesting situation. I would describe the situation as a potential laboratory for innovation. An incredibly youthful skew to the population (60% of Kenyans are under the age of 24) surely is also an accelerator. And hence my desire and interest of late to get on the ground, pound the pavement and see if this has actually been a catalyst for innovation.

How 'Civic Hacking' Answered Haiti Disaster

Tom Grubisich's picture

From the tragedy and wreckage of the Haitian earthquake come amazing lessons about how information technology and social media can bring help and hope to people trapped in catastrophic circumstances.

A good place to see how this is happening is the Social Entrepreneurship website.  Crisis camps of "civic hacking" throughout the U.S. and abroad are quickly producing base-layer maps that connect Haiti's thousands of orphans with potential adoption families, mobilizing speakers of Creole (photo), and delivering myriad other tech-driven emergency assistance with few layers of action-delaying bureaucracy.

The camps were set up by Crisis Commons, an international volunteer network of tech professionals.  The first CrisisCamp was actually held well before the Haiti earthquake -- in July 2009, at the World Bank.  Participants (scroll down to "Attendee List") included a rich cross section of representatives -- public, private, nonprofit -- from the sometimes rivalrous world of development aid.  "Us" and "them" suddenly became "we."

Civic hacking's Haiti successs stories are producing a flexible template for how emergency assistance can be delivered in other disasters, including those where climate change is at least a secondary cause, like storms and flooding.  Civic hacking's lessons will surely be extended to development aid in general, especially in countries with weak capacity.  Information technology can deepen and broaden capacity, and fast, as the proliferation of cellphones in Sub-Sahran Africa, South Asia, and other developing regions has been proving for years.

DM Finalist Digital Divide Data Keeps on Winning

Tom Grubisich's picture


The good news for DM2003 winner Digital Divide Data keeps on coming.

DDD, which trains the disabled, orphans, migrants, and vulnerable women in Cambodia and Laos to become digital operators for overseas clients, has received a US$50,000 grant from the Boeing Co. to advance its socially attuned IT job training and placement in Southeast Asia.

In its most recent quarterly statement, non-profit DDD, whose 650 employees and trainees make it the largest technology company in Cambodia and Laos, reported:

"...we increased earned revenues from clients to US$2.2 million for the year ending June 30, 2009. This was up 50% from the previous year of US$1.5 million.

"For the fourth straight year DDD covered its business costs through earned revenue. We then used generous support from our donors to support our social mission related expenses, particularly the recruiting and training of disadvantaged young people and educational benefits."

Digital Divide Data was founded in 2001 by Jeremy Hockenstein, then a management consultant for McKinsey & Co.  Struck by the "mix of poverty and progress" in Cambodia on a trip to Angkor Wat, Hockenstein saw "the opportunity to make a difference."  He put together a team of friends from his college days (he graduated from Harvard), and they started an IT training program -- modeled after outsourcing operations in India -- whos graduates would do digital work for foreign institutions and companies. Their first contract was digitizing the Harvard Crimson at Hockenstein's alma mater.  The details of DDD's outsourcing work for academic institutions, libraries, and other clients are here