2011 May


ICTs and Agriculture

Posted by on May 31, 2011  /  0 Comments

Some of the actionable research done by LIRNEasia, were highlighted at an event organized by the Bhutan Infocomm and Media Authority (BICMA), in Thimphu on 9 May 2011. One of the areas of research presented was Agriculture. According to the World Bank, nearly half the labour force in Bhutan is engaged in Agriculture, however as in most South Asia countries, the sector’s contribution to GDP is less than proportional. LIRNEasia’s research on agriculture has highlighted the importance of access to accurate, timely and actionable information improved the efficiency of the agriculture value chains. The presentation looked at the services available for delivering information to farmers in South Asia.
One has to look to the business media for key broadband indicators in Sri Lanka. When one looks at the authoritative source, one does not see basic information such as how many fixed broadband connections have been given out, but nonsense such as “Internet and Email Subscribers.” What will it take for the TRC to report information based on the ITU’s definitions? Sri Lanka had 574,000 broadband customers by end December 2010, including 294,000 mobile broadband users. Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), the country’s only wireline operator has been pushing ADSL (assymetrical digital subscriber line) aggressively since last year notching up 213,000 customers by end December.
We thought the emerging economies would be first past the post on this one, but it appears that the difficulties of navigating the regulatory delays and uncertainties have eroded the lead. Google will offer mobile payments with MasterCard and Citibank, according to one of the people, as well as with cellphone carriers, hardware manufacturers and retailers. Initially, the mobile wallets will be available only on Google’s Nexus S phone and will use a Citibank-issued MasterCard credit card number and a virtual Google MasterCard prepaid card. Full story.
Sarkozy is unpopular. So what does he do, hoping to distract his voters’ attention away from important issues? Try to set up IIU, as though the ITU was not enough. Why does he bother bombing Qaddafi? This puts him in the same camp.
On May 9th and 10th, LIRNEasia presented a selection of its research on Bhutan and of potential relevance to Bhutan at events organized in Thimphu. The following news report indicates that BICMA the Bhutan regulatory body is acting on one of the findings of the diagnostic tests run on broadband connectivity in Bhutan that showed poor connectivity among Bhutan ISPs. Broadband users can now self-regulate the bandwidth provided by the operators with the help of software which will be made available for free. Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA), in a move to facilitate the operators give better services and to emphasis evidence-derived regulations, tied up with LIRNEasia, an ICT policy and regulation think tank. LIRNEasia is based in Sri Lanka but works in all the South Asian countries and some South East Asian countries.
I am now in Washington DC. A familiar city, but not familiar enough. So many times I feel like using Google maps to orient myself. But then I am reminded of previous bill shocks and desist. I want to use a service; I am willing to pay for it, even with a reasonable premium.
“Often, most cases are suspected cases, with fewer confirmed cases. Patients with symptoms are asked to go for further tests, and this takes time. By the time a good number of confirmed cases are collected, the disease has spread rapidly. From a public health perspective, this is just not good enough. We need to catch it at the out-patient care level, restrict spread to clusters and deliver a cure before it grows into a wider geographical spread.
The al-Assad government in Syria appears to be responding to the use of ICTs by citizens unhappy with the political status quo more intelligently than its fallen counterpart in Egypt. The Syrian government is cracking down on protesters’ use of social media and the Internet to promote their rebellion just three months after allowing citizens to have open access to Facebook and YouTube, according to Syrian activists and digital privacy experts. Security officials are moving on multiple fronts — demanding dissidents turn over their Facebook passwords and switching off the 3G mobile network at times, sharply limiting the ability of dissidents to upload videos of protests to YouTube, according to several activists in Syria. And supporters of President Bashar al-Assad, calling themselves the Syrian Electronic Army, are using the same tools to try to discredit dissidents. In contrast to the Mubarak government in Egypt, which tried to quash dissent by shutting down the country’s entire Internet, the Syrian government is taking a more strategic approach, turning off electricity and telephone service in neighborhoods with the most unrest, activists say.
LIRNEasia Senior Research Fellow, Payal Malik, recently spoke the 2011 WSIS Forum, entitled, ‘Measuring the ICT sector for policy analysis‘ held on the 17th of May in Geneva. The session aimed to provide a brief overview of recent activities of the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development, including a progress report on e-government indicators. It also looked at the emerging issues to be included in its work agenda to advance ICT measurement. Payal  presented her research on ICT Statistics in India for Policy Analysis. This research was carried out by Orbicom, UQAM, Montreal and funded by IDRC.
A LIRNEasia research paper examining the potential demand and use of mobile phones  for remitting money between migrant workers and their beneficiaries has been published in the latest issue of Info (Vol 13, Issue 3). The paper is authored by Nirmali Sivapragasam, Aileen Aguero (DIRSI) and Dr. Harsha de Silva.  The paper is based on findings from LIRNEasia‘s Teleuse@BOP3 study. The paper can be downloaded here.
The results of the newest TRE survey conducted by LIRNEasia are out. We started the survey since before the start of LIRNEasia and have improved it since. The results were released in Dhaka, Bangladesh, at a well attended media event on 12 May 2011. The centerpiece was the sector performance report on Bangladesh by Faheem Hussain, Ph.D.
The Sri Lankan procedures for paying traffic fines are so annoying and time-consuming that they drive offenders to pay bribes instead. Now it appears that a bank and a mobile operator are trying to solve the problem. All strength to their elbows. A leading bank and a mobile company would introduce a technology when one was charged with traffic law violation could pay the fine through his/her mobile phone, sources said. Informed sources told Daily Mirror that any one charged with a traffic law violation could SMS the bank asking it to credit the amount specified as the fine to the post office account from his account.
People are trying to figure the meaning of Microsoft buying Skype. So are we. Let the conversation begin. Wireless carriers now funnel voice and data traffic over two separate networks and charge customers accordingly. In the not-so-distant future, analysts and industry executives say, all mobile services, including text messages and voice and video calls, will travel over data networks.
Last week, b-mobile subscribers in Bhutan received a message that cell broadcasting had been enabled on the system. It was the same week LIRNEasia recommended that cell broadcasting was the best option for effecting public warning in the mountainous country that is vulnerable to massive flash floods known as Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs).
One cannot talk about broadband these days without Australia’s massive taxpayer-funded national broadband scheme coming up. In an otherwise interesting and informed discussion of the pros and cons, Ian McAuley confuses the debate by conflating access networks, which will for the most part be wireless, and backhaul networks which will for the most part be fiber. The fourth myth is that “the Internet is becoming a wireless internet”, to quote Malcolm Turnbull, who appeared on the program with his nifty little wireless tablet computer. The claim is disingenuous, and Turnbull, of all people, knows the limits of wireless technology. Bandwidth is limited, and what works today for a few users will become the Internet equivalent of road gridlock in just a few years.
The moderator of the DRR lecture and panel and leading science writer Nalaka Gunawardene has written about the discussion at the DRR lecture. More than 200 small dams did breach during those rains, causing extensive damage to crops and infrastructure. The most dangerous form of breach, the over-topping of the earthen dams of large reservoirs, was avoided only by timely measures taken by irrigation engineers — at considerable cost to those living downstream. This irrigation emergency was captured by a local cartoonist: the head in this caricature is that of the minister of irrigation. In early February, Sri Lanka announced that it will expand its dam safety programme to cover more large reservoirs and will ask for additional funding from the World Bank following recent floods.
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