Digital technologies and ICTs

Dramatic changes brought about by digital and technological advances - including information and communication technologies (ICTs) - have created new economic and social opportunities the world over. Access to and the strategic use of these technologies by individuals, businesses, governments and civil society have the potential to help bring about economic development, poverty reduction, and democratisation. However they also bring many challenges, not least those that threaten environmental sustainabilty and deepen the divides between the 'haves' and 'have nots'. 

Children practice their computer skills on new robust laptops. Rwanda is one of the first African countries to be part of the One Laptop per Child.
Credit: Panos / Sven Torfinn

Advancing knowledge, shaping policy and inspiring practice on digital technologies and ICT for development is critical to achieving the Institute of Development Studies’ vision of reducing inequalities, accelerating sustainability, and building secure and inclusive societies.

IDS's work in this area seeks to understand how new technologies can be harnessed to improve the lives of the poorest and most marginalised communities and the risks involved. We also explore how ICTs can best support the application of research evidence in development policy and practice.

Photo of Alan Stanley from IDS Knowledge Services More details

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Photo of Becky Faith, Research Officer, Digital and Technology research cluster More details

Photo of Ben Ramalingam, Digital cluster research fellow More details

Portrait image of Grace Lyn Higdon More details

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Photo of Kelly Shephard, IDS Open Knowledge and Digital Services Unit More details

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Photo of Martin Greeley, IDS Research Fellow More details

Photo of Pauline Oosterhoff, Research Fellow, Participation Power and Social Change More details

Photo of Pedro Prieto Martin, Research Officer, Digital and Technology research cluster More details

Photo of Stephen Wood, Participation Research team, IDS More details

Photo of Tony Roberts, IDS research fellow, Digital More details

A Demonstration Project: How Active Data Can be Shaped and Provide Strong Evidence-Based Programming

In an attempt to make better use of what is available, IDS is leading on a pilot programme which examines sets of participatory and systemic data with a view to increase understanding of how data is collected, analysed and shared in development programming. More details

Capacity Building for Smart Data and Inclusive Cities (SDIC)

The “Capacity Building for Smart Data and Inclusive Cities” (SDIC) project aims strengthen technical and institutional capacities by working directly with municipal authorities participating in the Smart Cities Mission in four secondary cities in India: Bhopal and Jabalpur (in Madhya Pradesh) and Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi (in Kerala). More details

Digital Development: IDS and DFAT InnovationXchange collaboration

This six month collaboration between the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's InnovationXchange (iXc) and the Digital and Technology cluster will strengthen DFAT’s capability to appropriately use technology to more effectively deliver aid outcomes, building on its existing expertise and experience. More details

GODAN Action - Enabling practical engagement with open data in agriculture and nutrition

GODAN Action brings together agriculture and nutrition specialists and open data experts and will support GODAN in its mission by building people’s capacity to engage with open data More details

mSTAR Real Time Data for Adaptive Programming Conceptual Framework

The project will focus on the growing importance of real-time data and in particular how digital tools can be used to generate information in support of more adaptive, contextually relevant, decision-making and programme management and implementation More details

Open Application Programming Interface (API)

The IDS Knowledge Services Open API (Application Programming Interface) makes the datasets held across our Knowledge Services accessible programmatically to other organisations and individuals to enable others to repurpose and contextualise this knowledge. More details

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Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy: Outputs April 2014 – March 2015

Accountable Grant Outputs Brochure (2015)

In much writing about development, policy and practice are portrayed as if they are joined at the hip. Policy shapes practice, while learning from practice informs policy processes. In this portrayal, practice is usually understood to refer to development practice, or how development programmes and projects are implemented. More details


PDS ‘To Go’? ‘Portability’ of Rights through Real-time Monitoring: the Centralised Online Real-time Electronic PDS in Chhattisgarh, India

IDS Evidence Report 133 (2015)

Information and communications technology (ICT)-based reforms are increasingly being used to improve the delivery of public services. More details


The Future of Knowledge Sharing in a Digital Age: Exploring Impacts and Policy Implications for Development

IDS Evidence Report 125 (2015)

We live in a Digital Age that gives us instant access to information at greater and greater volumes. The rapid growth of digital content and tools is already changing how we create, consume and distribute knowledge. More details


Tracking Research and Policy Conversations in Online Spaces

IDS Evidence Report 122 (2015)

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) is engaged in a major four-year programme entitled Strengthening Evidence-based Policy, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). Central to this programme is the production and communication of policy-relevant research findings. More details


Knowledge Sharing and Development in a Digital Age

IDS Policy Briefing 87 (2015)

Digital technologies are reaching ever further into remote parts of the world, changing how people access, use, and create information and knowledge. More details


Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and Information and Communications Technologies: A Policy Review and Case Study from South Africa

IDS Evidence Report 113 (2015)

This report explores the intersection between sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and technological means of enhancing health. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Social media and conflict management in post-conflict and fragile contexts

GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1184 (2015)

This rapid review identifies recent literature on the role of social media plays in conflict management in post-conflict and fragile contexts. More details


Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy: Outputs November 2012 – March 2014

Accountable Grant Outputs Brochure (2014)

Knowledge and evidence are important elements of all policy processes. While the availability of more or higher quality evidence does not guarantee better policy processes, it is difficult to imagine how development policy and outcomes can be improved without it. More details

ER89 Front Cover

Research Methods and Visualisation Tools for Online LGBT Communities

IDS Evidence Report 89 (2014)

Field research among geographically dispersed communities is time-consuming and costly. When people are stigmatised, field research has additional ethical and logistical problems. In many countries lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (people are both geographically dispersed and stigmatised. More details

This is the front cover of MAVC Think Piece. Fostering new ideas for social inclusion and accountable, responsive governance. Photo: Duncan Edwards

Fostering New Ideas for Social Inclusion and Accountable, Responsive Governance: a Think-Piece for the Making All Voices Count Programme

This short think piece draws from a desk review of experience in using innovation to increase social inclusion, and an exchange of ideas in an e-dialogue between practitioners and scholars in January 2014. More details

The Question of Inclusiveness: A think piece for the Making All Voices Count Programme

This think piece draws from a desk review of experience in ICT-mediated citizen engagement, and an exchange of ideas in an e-dialogue between practitioners and scholars in late January 2014. More details

ER60 Front Cover

E-health and M-health in Bangladesh: Opportunities and Challenges

IDS Evidence Report 60 (2014)

There is growing enthusiasm amongst analysts of global health for the possibilities opened up by the rapid spread of mobile phone coverage. This includes substantially increasing access to health-related information and advice and to expert medical consultations. More details

This is the image for IDS Policy Briefing 40, 'Understanding ‘the users’ in Technology for Transparency
and Accountability Initiatives'.

Understanding ‘the users’ in Technology for Transparency and Accountability Initiatives

IDS Policy Briefing 40 (2013)

The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has risen dramatically since the turn of the millennium, in particular among people in countries of the global South. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Youth and the Practice of IT Enterprise: Narratives of the Knowledge Society and the Creation of New Subjectivities Amongst Bangalore's IT Aspirants

This chapter focuses on the experience of the knowledge society amongst Bangalore's entrepreneurial young IT aspirants. Narratives of the middle classes aspiring to work in Bangalore's software and wider outsourcing industries are examined alongside narratives of those who have already attained the IT dream. More details

Information Ecosystems of Policy Actors - Reviewing the Landscape

IDS Working Paper 401 (2012)

This is a draft report to share some interim findings from the study – Information Ecosystems of Policy Actors – reviewing the landscape. More details

Front cover for IDS Bulletin 43.5 New roles for communication in development? September 2012

New Roles for Communication in Development?

IDS Bulletin 43.5 (2012)

This Bulletin explores the significant shift in the landscape of research communications in development in recent years and how this might give us new understandings of what drives social change and policy influence. More details

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Learning about New Technologies and the Changing Evidence Base for Social Science Research and Decision Making in International Development

IDS Practice Paper In Brief 4 (2011)

New technologies are opening up exciting possibilities for the intermediary sector to produce, share and remix information and change the evidence base for research and collective action. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Mediating Voices, Communicating Realities: Using Information Crowdsourcing Tools, Open Data Initiatives and Digital Media to Support and Protect the Vulnerable

This is the final report from a research project, supported by the UK Department for International Development, examining whether and how open ICT projects designed to support the poor can make a difference in their lives and livelihoods. More details

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