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Growing the Internet

The many faces of technology, lessons from Asia-Pacific

May and June were filled with very interesting ICT events in Asia Pacific many of which I was lucky enough to attend because I was either fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to speak or, because the event was supported by the Internet Society Asia-Pacific Bureau.

From the slick CommunicAsia megashow in Singapore where MNCs launch their latest products to the 2nd edition of the Aid & Response Summit in Bangkok where disaster and community resilience experts discussed improvements particularly through the use of mobiles, and finally to ICTD Singapore 2015 an information and communication technologies and development conference in Singapore where academics from around the world met to examine, critique and refine ICT used by individuals and the community in the service of human development.  What was interesting about the last event was the acceptance that there are multidisciplinary challenges associated with the engineering, application and adoption of ICTs in developing regions–or for development–with implications for design, policy and, practice.

Held over four days, the ICTD event at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore was packed with more than 100 presentations, panel discussions, demonstrations, workshop and networking opportunities. Sessions were held under the topics of education, disability, agriculture and small business, mobile banking and mobile phones, health and, e-government and politics.  They were all so interesting that it was difficult to select which one to listen to.

There were diverse studies in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar.  Some of them include:

-Mobile technology for refugee resilience in urban and peri-urban Malaysia

-The promises and pitfalls of mobile money in Afghanistan: evidence from randomized control trial

-Sada Vehra: A framework for crowdsourcing Punjabi language content

-ICTs for agriculture knowledge management: Insights from DHRUVA, India

-Work-related use and positive livelihood outcomes among mobile phone users in Asia

A few takeaways from these events are that all human activity has now been touched by information and communication technology and everyone can shape the design of these technologies, and, information communication technology has the power to change lives for the better but only if people allow it—or want to empower themselves.