Digital and Technology

Advancing knowledge, shaping policy and inspiring practice on digital development is critical to achieving our vision of a more equitable and sustainable world, where people everywhere can live their lives free from poverty and injustice.

The digital revolution has ushered in transformative changes to the ways we communicate and organise, with cascading effects across social, economic and political spheres.  Mobile phones and internet technologies are being used positively by women and marginalised groups to access information resources, increase their agency and well-being, and to influence policy and political change. However the same technologies are also used for surveillance, distortion of democratic discourse and to dampen dissent by civil society.

Our cutting-edge research and analysis on the reality of digital development provides insights and ideas for policymakers and practitioners within development and humanitarian organisations seeking to better understand and realise the promise of the digital revolution for poor and marginalised communities.

We focus on three interconnected themes;

  • Gender and technology:  Mobile phones and other ICTs can contribute to women’s economic and political empowerment but the same technologies are often sites of gender exclusion and online violence. Our research looks at these barriers and the pathways to womens’ active participation in digital economies as creators, innovators and entrepreneurs.
  • Innovation and ‘frontier technologies’: Frontier technologies hold the potential to rapidly address large-scale economic, social or political challenges. However they may also involve the displacement of existing livelihoods and social relations and so carry considerable uncertainty and risk. If technology choices in international development are to be based on more than vendor and media hype then new sources of digital and technology expertise must urgently be made available to development decision-makers.
  • Digital citizenship: New digital public spheres are opening up online, often in response to the closing of offline civic spaces. This is becoming the new frontier on which development policy debates and narratives are being formed. We explore new ways to accelerate innovation in the field of digital citizenship to enable the democratic potential of ICT to amplify citizen voices to be realised.

Collaboration for impact

The quality and impact of our work depend upon us collaborating with governments, philanthropic foundations, academic institutions and civil society organisations to transform approaches to progressive social, political and economic change.

Consulting services

Our consulting services focus on our clients’ most critical issues and opportunities surrounding digital strategies for human development. We bring strong technical, cross-disciplinary expertise grounded in real-world experience and are known for bringing a holistic lens that acknowledges the economic, political and social contexts of digital development. Recent clients include the Digital Impact Alliance, The Malala Fund, UK Department for International Development, USAID, German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) and Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.



Recent work


Podcast: Digital Authoritarianism in the Middle East

Digital deception is the new face of information warfare. Social media has been weaponised by states and commercial entities alike, as bots and trolls proliferate and users are left to navigate an infodemic of fake news and disinformation. In this episode of the IDS Between the Lines podcast,...

31 January 2023


Opportunities to join IDS as a Research Fellow

IDS is recruiting up to three Fellows to join our research clusters. This includes two vacancies to join the Rural Futures cluster as Social Protection Fellow and a vacancy to join the Digital and Technology cluster as Cluster Leader. Social Protection Fellows The Rural Futures Cluster...

4 January 2023


Digital Poverty in the UK (accessible version)

IDS Policy Briefing 202

Accessible version of IDS Policy Briefing 202. As every aspect of life – from job seeking to health care – moves online, digital connectivity is a daily necessity, not a luxury. This Policy Briefing explores the extent of digital poverty in the UK.

Becky Faith
Becky Faith & 2 others

17 August 2022



The African Sousveillance Project

The Sousveillance Project will document the supply chain of digital technologies from the global North used for illegal surveillance in Africa and produce evidence to hold accountable the companies that benefit from violating citizens’ rights.


African Digital Rights Network

Many countries in Africa are experiencing a closing of civic space. This network brings together activists, analysts and researchers from seven African countries.