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

Photo of Alistair Scott More details

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

Photo of Ben Ramalingam, Digital cluster research fellow More details

Photo of Duncan Edwards, ICTs Innovations Manager More details

Photo of Hani Morsi More details

Photo of Inka Barnett More details

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

Photo of Kevin Hernandez, IDS More details

Photo of Martin Greeley, IDS Research Fellow More details

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

Photo of Philip Mader, Research Fellow, Business, Markets and the State 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

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

View all Research Theme's publications

Use this search to display this theme's publications and filter by journal, author, country and much more.


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PB145_FrontCover

Improving the Impact of Climate Information Services in Kenya’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands

IDS Policy Briefing 145 (2017)

Climate variability and change are affecting millions of poor people in Kenya, particularly in arid and semi-arid lands. Significant investments are being made in developing Climate Information Services (CIS) which are tailored to the needs of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists and aim to help them adapt to the impact of climate change in these regions. More details

Wp492_FrontCover

Assessing the Role of Social Media and Digital Technology in Violence Reporting

IDS Working Paper 492 (2017)

The use of social media and digital technologies has radically changed the way that information about violence is captured, reported, analysed and acted upon. People’s use of social media played a significant role in the Egyptian revolution, post-election violence in Kenya, and drug-cartel violence in Mexico. Social media can be used to provide humanitarian agencies, policymakers and academics seeking to understand and respond to violent crises with data unavailable from other sources. More details

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The Impact of Social Media and Digital Technology on Electoral Violence in Kenya

IDS Working Paper 493 (2017)

Electoral violence has become synonymous with Kenya’s elections. This acquired deadly proportions during the 2007 elections. However, it was also during this time that social media and digital technology was first used for political reasons including campaigning and polling. Social media and digital technology had mixed uses where it was not only used to propagate hate speech and mobilise for violence, but also to identify and map out violence hotspots. More details

This is the front cover of MAVC Research Report Pathways to Accountability from the Margins: Reflections of Participatory Video Practices

Pathways to Accountability from the Margins: Reflections on Participatory Video Practice

Two of the central challenges in building accountability for marginalised people are how to reach and meaningfully involve the most excluded, and how to establish the kinds of relationships that mean they can achieve, influence and expect government responsiveness. This report explores asks how participatory video can be adapted and strengthened inclusively engage citizens and foster responses from decision-makers. More details

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Automation, Women, and the Future of Work

Impact Initiative Rapid Response Briefing 1 (2017)

Will women benefit from the rapid automation and digitisation that is set to change the world of work as we know it? How can we ensure that women’s economic interests are brought into focus, and that debates on the future of work are not about the changing relationship between man and machine, but between people and machine? More details

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Accountability in Health Systems and the Potential of mHealth

IDS Working Paper 490 (2017)

The rapid spread of information and communication technologies (ICTs) (and of mobile phones in particular) across low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) has generated considerable excitement in development circles regarding their potential to revolutionise service delivery in health systems. More details

This is the front cover of MAVC Research Report ICT-facilitated accountability and engagement in health systems: a review of Making All Voices Count mHealth for accountability projects.

ICT-Facilitated Accountability and Engagement in Health Systems: a Review of Making All Voices Count mHealth for Accountability Projects

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) and mHealth innovations hold great potential to improve health systems and health outcomes while at the same time enhancing citizen engagement and accountability. Yet there has been little assessment of the impact of mHealth innovations on the ground. More details

This is the front cover of MAVC Research Report Feasibility and acceptability of a mobile phone intervention to improve post-rape service delivery in South Africa.

Feasibility and acceptability of a mobile phone intervention to improve post-rape service delivery in South Africa

MAVC Research Report (2017)

Mobile health (mHealth) interventions – in which mobile phones are used to advance positive health outcomes – have only recently been applied to addressing broader questions of health governance. More details

This is the front cover of MAVC ractice Paper It Matters Who Produces Data: Reflections on two citizen generated data initiatives.

It Matters Who Produces Data: Reflections on Two Citizen-Generated Data Initiatives

Development Initiatives (DI) and Development Research and Training (DRT) received a Making All Voices Count practitioner research and learning grant to examine the purpose, use and users of citizen-generated data in two case studies. One case study examined how citizen-generated data on the quality of schools and schooling was channelled to the Ministry of Education in Kenya. The other looked at the work of community resource trackers in five communities in Uganda and their role in providing unsolicited feedback to local government actors and other development partners. More details

This is the front cover to IDS Rapid Response Briefing 17, 'Blockchain for Development – Hope or Hype?'

Blockchain for Development – Hope or Hype?

IDS Rapid Response Briefing 17 (2017)

Blockchain technology has been heralded by many as the next big thing. The potential use of blockchains has attracted widespread attention from the media, the IMF, the UN, and the UK Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor. More details

This is the front cover of MAVC Practice Paper Giving Voice to Clients of Post-Rape Services: Building and Piloting a Feedback Mechanism in Tshwane

Giving Voice to Clients of Post-Rape Services: Building and Piloting a Feedback Mechanism in Tshwane

This practice paper reflects on the development of an appropriate and confidential feedback mechanism for users of post-rape services at Thuthuzela Care Centres / Rape Crisis Centres in Tshwane, South Africa. More details

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The Contribution of Digital Technologies to Service Delivery: An Evidence Review

IDS Evidence Report 221 (2017)

The explosion in digital connectivity, globalisation and the rapid growth in digital technologies over the last two decades has revolutionised the way that businesses perform and compete globally. More details

IDS Working Paper 483 Front Cover

Challenges in Reinvigorating and Upgrading DSpace-based Institutional Repositories: A University of Zambia (UNZA) Library Case Study

IDS Working Paper 483 (2017)

The University of Zambia established an institutional repository (IR) in order to archive and make available to the research community the university’s intellectual output using DSpace. This paper describes the rationale behind the implementation of an IR, the equipment and software used to digitise the materials. More details

This is the front cover of MAVC Research Report Shifting the Spotlight: Understanding Crowdsourcing Intermediaries in Transparency and Accountability Initiatives

Shifting the Spotlight: Understanding Crowdsourcing Intermediaries in Transparency and Accountability Initiatives

This report highlights the ideas and practices that underlie the work of crowdsourcing intermediaries: actors who collect and analyse citizen feedback using digital platforms, and use it to support positive change. Most studies of crowdsourcing initiatives in the transparency and accountability field are primarily concerned with representation (whose voice is being heard?) and impact (what kind of change is being supported?). More details

This is the front cover from MAVC Practice Paper Building an Ecosystem Around Data: Using Interactive Radio for Accountability to Farmers in Tanzania

Building an Ecosystem Around Data: Using Interactive Radio for Accountability to Farmers in Tanzania

This practice paper discusses research by Farm Radio International to assess the effectiveness of one of its projects, the Listening Post, and to examine its potential as a tool for the adaptive management of agricultural programmes. The Listening Post combines specialised interactive radio broadcasts with in interactive voice response tool created for gathering and analysing feedback and questions from audience members. More details

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Gauging Demand for Evidence and Accountability in Impact Investing by using Twitter Social Network Analysis: A Methodology

IDS Evidence Report 213 (2016)

This report explains the methodology used to analyse the demand for evidence and accountability within the impact investment market. Social network analysis, qualitative interviews and ego network analysis were used to explore actors within this market (or system), drawing on data from Twitter to consider connections, influence and conversations about social impact. More details

This is the front cover of MAVC Practice Paper Lessons from Yowzit’s practitioner research and learning process

Lessons from Yowzit’s Practitioner Research and Learning Process

Making All Voices Count’s Research, Evidence and Learning component provides grants and mentoring support for real-time research, applied by tech for transparency and accountability practitioners, for project learning and improved practice. Practice papers document these grantees’ learning processes. More details

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Dial ‘N’ for Nutrition? A Landscape Analysis of What We Know About m-Nutrition, m-Agriculture and m-Development

IDS Working Paper 481 (2016)

Child undernutrition is one of the most devastating realities in many parts of the world. Globally in 2015, 159 million children below the age of five years were too short for their age (stunted) and 50 million were too thin for their height (wasted). More details

Front cover for 'Ten Frontier Technologies for International Development'

Ten Frontier Technologies for International Development

As new technologies and digital business models reshape economies and disrupt incumbencies, interest has surged in the potential of novel frontier technologies to also contribute to positive changes in international development and humanitarian contexts. More details

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The Impact of Digital Technology on Economic Growth and Productivity, and its Implications for Employment and Equality: An Evidence Review

IDS Evidence Report 207 (2016)

As digital technology has begun to ‘eat the world’ it has also influenced the way that humans interact and transact with each other. Thus, it has inevitably had an effect on global, regional, national and local economies. More details

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