2014


Mobile is not king in the US

Posted by on December 31, 2014  /  1 Comments

A story reporting Pew research on perceptions on the Internet has this little nugget showing how different developed markets are from ours. For all the talk of our culture moving to mobile phones, more than one-third of the respondents said a landline phone was vital to their jobs, compared with the one-quarter that said a cellphone was very important. Pew surveyed 535 American adults employed full-time or part-time in September using a nationally representative online research panel. The margin of error for the survey, which was conducted in English, was plus or minus 5 percentage points. Respondents said the Internet had made them more productive and given them more flexibility in their jobs, but about 35 percent said they were also working longer hours because of it.
The Government of Pakistan has ordered an expensive re-verification process of all mobile SIMs in the aftermath of the Peshawar Massacre. Aslam Hayat, a LIRNEasia alumnus now with Telenor Pakistan, has pointed out that the root cause is being ignored: However this does not mean that the system is foolproof, there is possibility that at the retail-end, some of the sellers may violate standard operating procedures (SOPs) for small gains without the support and knowledge of the mobile operators. The big question is why somebody would do this and why there is demand for SIMs on fake subscriptions. Without fear of contradiction, I can say with confidence that no franchisee or a retailer will ever knowingly sell a SIM to a terrorist or a person having intent to commit a heinous crime. The dominant buyer of bulk SIMs is the group of people involved in bringing grey international incoming calls.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This report presents the findings of the qualitative research project titled “Communication, Information and Knowledge Needs of Urban Poor Micro-entrepreneurs in Myanmar”. It is an outcome of a research collaboration between CKS Consulting Pvt. Ltd. (hereafter CKS), and LIRNEasia, with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada (www.idrc.
In the overview piece that keeps popping up in various media (link below), I highlighted the importance of knowledge. Not only its creation, but its incorporation into everyday practice. Not only of government and private sector, but also of citizens. Knowledge, he stressed, has to be incorporated into everyday practice not only by the government and private sector, but all citizens. “Let’s hope that the 10th anniversary of our greatest natural disaster will energise the efforts to build resilient societies in Asia Pacific.
Bangladesh’s leading English language newspaper, the Daily Star, has carried a story on what that country could gain from analysis of mobile network big data. He said a lot of people are now talking about big data, but the current models of data analysis do not cover all the people, especially the poor. Mobile networks’ big data can be used to reach this segment, he added. Big data can give organisations access to more data than they have experienced before, and thus give them the opportunity to discover data correlations and patterns. Access to more accurate information can influence their business in many ways.
It was not all sunshine and fare weather that greeted us on the December 26th this year in Sri Lanka. Instead a country in a crisis dealing with the continuous week long rains washing away sides of hills and flooding (copy of Dec 26th landslide and flood warnings issued by DMC). While we were at the Hambantota exhibition, there was uncertainty in being cut-off from Colombo with flash floods crossing roads in various E/A/B network. Had the rains continued on the 26th we may have been stranded or had great difficulty returning to Colombo. An incident or situational map, like Google’s Alerthub, would have been informative in comforting the uncertainties.

Indian Ocean Tsunami + 10

Posted by on December 26, 2014  /  1 Comments

LIRNEasia was three months old when the tsunami struck, killing over 200,000 people in countries around the Bay of Bengal where we intended to focus our efforts as a nascent think tank. But it hit Sri Lanka, where we are based, very hard. On a per-capita basis, Sri Lanka suffered the greatest loss of lives, close to one in 600 people perishing over the morning hours of the 26th. Our small organization was untouched, thankfully. My daughter, fresh from the US, wanted a holiday with a fireplace.
The specialized unit of the UN dealing with big data for development, UN Global Pulse, has constituted a data privacy advisory group. LIRNEasia’s chair and advisor to the big data for development team, Rohan Samarajiva, is a member. Among the other members are MIT’s Sandy Pentland and Umar Saif, Chair of the Punjab IT Board and Secretary IT of the Government of Punjab.
The full report suggests that the number show massive potential for low-cost smartphones in this market. Sri Lanka’s mobile phone sales reached one million units in the third quarter of 2014 while smart phone shipment up by 100 percent which accounts for 20 percent of the total sales, a market report said. “Sri Lanka mobile handset shipments continue to show consistent growth in both the Feature phones as well as Smartphone segments, making it among very few South East Asian markets where growth was seen in both segments,” said CyberMedia Research, a Market Intelligence and Advisory firm in its report.
Reading the interview with Viktor Mayer-Schonberger from which the quotation below is taken, I was reminded of an exchange we had in Doha earlier this month, at ITU Telecom World. What do you have to say to those who are still unsure about ‘Big Data’? To them I say: The only way that you can be in power and not be ‘controlled’ by data is to first understand its power and then use it to your own advantage. Otherwise, you will always be at the receiving end in the balance of power between the ‘big guys’ who analyse data and the ‘every man’ who supplies data – whether consciously or inadvertently. The question was from Dr Shiv Bakhshi, now with Ericsson and whose association with me goes back to the 1990s.
Reliance on public-sector entities alone was identified as a critical weakness in India’s NOFN plans during the Expert Forum we organized in New Delhi in March 2014. The event had significant participation from senior Indian government officials. Did it, and other writings, make any contribution to the change in course described below? In a shift from its previous stance, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has now decided to rope in private sector for the ambitious National Optic Fibre Network (NOFN) project. The moves comes since it sees roping in the private sector as the only way out to meet the new deadline of March 2016 set by the government, as against December 2016 earlier, to complete the R21,000-crore project.
This debate about access to data about railway delays in Britain has interesting implications in other fields such as electricity. She told me part of the problem is when public services are provided by the private sector; such firms claim that selling data is a revenue stream for them, and ask for public-funded subsidies to make it open. For example, the state-owned Ordnance Survey mapping company has made much of its data open, but takes a £10 million annual subsidy to do so, according to The Indepen​dent. “It’s particularly frustrating when organisations aren’t making much money from it,” Tennison added, noting that the costs of selling data—including lawyers for licensing and enforcing terms—often outstrip any revenue. Tennison hopes that’s not the case.
All the plans for advancing the lives of people in South Asian countries, including Internet access, are not likely to achieve fruition unless the electricity problems are solved. For this, one essential action is the the tapping of the abundant potential of the southern slopes of the Himalayas. Another is interconnection of the national grids of the South Asian countries. The Economist wrote about this, focusing on sub-continent, and leaving out Sri Lanka. A second reason, says Raghuveer Sharma of the International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank), was radical change that opened India’s domestic power market a decade ago.
I moderated a panel session on “Affordable International Backhaul” at ITU’s annual event in Doha on December 8, 2014. Success of a moderator solely depends on the panel members’ participation. I am truly indebted to all of them. Doug Madory, Director of Internet Analysis, Dyn Research, pointed out, from a purely technical perspective, when it comes to creating an ICT hub, there is little difference whether a country is landlocked or on the coast. “It is wishful thinking to design developmental projects without the regulatory framework and basic best practices which enable investment in the sector, “ said Khaled Naguib Sedrak, CEO and Founder, NxtVn.
Based on writing and interviews done in June 2015 in the context of LIRNEasia’s events organized to mark the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami on December 2004 http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Regional/2014/12/22/Contributing-to-global-knowledge/. The first multilingual trials of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) – a data format for exchanging public warnings and emergencies between alerting technologies – were carried out in Sri Lanka as part of the Hazard Information Project funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre.
Abstract: It is proposed that research-based interventions be undertaken in parallel on all major aspects of the Internet eco-system in Myanmar, namely infrastructure and services, users with skills, user interfaces and attractive content and applications. It is contended that with this novel “allfronts” approach has the potential to accelerate Myanmar’s progress from one of the least connected countries to an inclusive information society. The work will be undertaken in partnership with Myan ICT for Development Organization (MIDO), with the intention of mentoring the members of MIDO to reach their potential as policy intellectuals and future leaders and to strengthen the organization. The proposed work includes quantitative and qualitative studies that build on the baseline nationwide survey and qualitative studies. This research will be utilized in policy interventions and in the development innovation briefs for the development of apps and content useful for “those unlike app developers.