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

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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

View all Research Theme's publications

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'Organization in Open Source Communities: At the Crossroads between the Gift and Market Economies'

Organization in Open Source Communities: at the Crossroads of the Gift and Market Economies

This book contributes new insights into the organization of free/open source (F/OS) software communities by examining the links between learning, division of labour and commercialization, demonstrating the need for a synthesis of work on both community organization and cooperation to understand F/OS community dynamics. More details

IDS Research Summary

Mobile Love Videos Make Me Feel Healthy: Rethinking ICTs for Development

IDS Research Summary of IDS Working Paper 352 (2010)

Development discourse tends to limit attention to the contribution of information and communications technologies (ICTs) to economic and educational empowerment, largely ignoring other potential areas for empowerment. More details

IDS Working Paper

Mobile Love Videos Make me Feel Healthy: Rethinking ICTs in Development

IDS Working Paper 352 (2010)

In the ICTs for Development discourse, ICTs are positioned as tools and processes to fight poverty and facilitate empowerment. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Using Technology to Deliver Social Protection: Exploring Opportunities and Risks

Development in Practice 20.3 (2010)

Providing cash transfers to vulnerable groups reduces vulnerability and chronic poverty; but delivering cash to remote, rural locations can be expensive and insecure. Alternative delivery systems using technology are thus being piloted. More details

IDS publications on international development research

In the Cocoon: Translating Complexity Across Communities and Networks of Practice in a Collaborative Open Source Project

Report produced for the Digital Business Ecosystem Project (contract number 507953): London School of Economics and Political Science, Media and Communications Department. More details

Non-IDS publication

Growing up in the Knowledge Society: Living the IT Dream in Bangalore

This work is an ethnographic investigation into the everyday lives of young people growing up and living in contemporary Bangalore. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Rebel Voices and Radio Actors: in pursuit of dialogue and debate in northern Uganda

Development in Practice 19.4&5 (2009)

This paper seeks to understand the restrictions media actors face in their day-to-day work in Acholiland, northern Uganda, and identify the strategies they adopt to maintain a space for dialogue and debate. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Learning and the imperative of production in free/open source development

IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 234.Open Source Development Adoption and Innovation Proceedings (2007)

This paper examines the role of learning in structuring access and participation in F/OS communities. In particular it highlights the challenges and barriers to access faced by new developers and the expectations of senior developers regarding the mindsets and capabilities of new contributors. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Report on the socio-economics of Free/Open Source: Working together at the intersections between the gift economy and the exchange economy: Sustainability and Scalability in F/OS

Produced for the Digital Business Ecosystem Project (contract number 507953): London School of Economics and Political Science, Media and Communications Department. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Gender and ICTs

Dramatic changes brought about by information and communication technologies (ICTs) have created new economic and social opportunities the world over. Their use, however, continues to be governed by existing power relations, despite mainstream views that these technologies are gender neutral and therefore of benefit to all. More details

IDS publications on international development research

E-commerce in the Garment Industry in Kenya: Usage, Obstacles and Policies

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have the potential to make vast amounts of information available to users located in various parts of the world and to facilitate rapid communication between them. One application of these technologies is in the development of ‘e-commerce’ to support electronic trading. More details

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