Published on Let's Talk Development

Can Technology be transformational? Opening up Development through Technology

This page in:

Twitter, Facebook, SMS, and Crowdsourcing—2011 has certainly been the year in which the use of social media and technology has captured the world’s attention.
From Tahrir Square in Egypt to the Anna Hazare movement in India, citizens have demonstrated that they want voice and accountability. Innovations in social media, mobile phones and inter-active mapping are powerful tools to mobilize citizens and to provide people with a voice—thus broadening the political debate.

However, key questions remain unanswered: What role can these innovative tools play to encourage governments, donors and foundations to become more transparent, open and accountable? Can the use of social media and cell phones empower people and marginalized communities, and close the feedback loop, allowing citizens to directly report back on project results and participate in decision-making processes about the use of public funds? These are a few issues that emerge when analyzing the potential transformative power of technology on development.

The deepest transformation happens inside countries, where governments are taking advantage of the rapidly growing use of mobile technology, social media and inter-active mapping in order to more deeply engage citizens. For the first time, interested governments can reach citizens in even the most remote places—citizens whose voices have never been heard. Governments can share what they are doing, solicit views on the budget, and ask their help in monitoring its implementation. Citizens can now share their feedback on the quality of the services they receive, and get help resolving problems.
ICT innovations are powerful tools to help democratize development and make donor and government programs more inclusive and sustainable. To help engage people from around the world in a discussion around these topics, the World Bank has launched the Open Development Technology Alliance (ODTA). The ODTA aims to better connect partner countries and World Bank teams with the rich ICT experiences of citizens, civil society, academia, foundations and the private sector.

To build its knowledge base, the ODTA has partnered with leading academic institutions to carry out research on early lessons learned of how to use technology to open up development, facilitate better government-citizen engagement, and use crowdsourcing to help solve development challenges.

As a first step, the World Bank launched 7 draft reports on these topics during a Global Dialogue on the Use of Technology to Open Up Development, which brought together more than 300 participants from 10 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The dialogue focused on the exchange of experiences, questions and lessons learned about the potential of Open Government Data and the use of ICTs for Citizen Engagement and Social Accountability.

Based on the Bank’s new approach of Open Knowledge, we are using an interactive and open process to review the research. They are available on a public web platform until the end of February 2012 where you are invited to comment and give feedback.

This process is based on our conviction that a great deal of knowledge and experience on the innovative use of ICTs and Open Government Data resides outside the World Bank. The crowd sourcing approach has demonstrated that valuable expertise comes directly from citizens and practitioners on the ground. Thus, the main objective of the Open Development Technology Alliance is to engage, listen, and gain knowledge from people beyond the World Bank. Please read the papers share your experience and join the discussion.



Soren Gigler

Senior Governance Specialist, Innovation

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000