Nirmali Sivapragasam


Findings from LIRNEasia‘s m-health pilot research on the use of mobiles for detection and dissemination of disease outbreaks, led by Mr. Nuwan Waidyanatha, was presented to key stakeholders at a workshop on 29 – 30 September 2010 in Islamabad, Pakistan. Participants consisted of key officials of the ministries of health and IT, public and private healthcare institutions, NGOs and academic institutions. The conference was co-funded by eHealth Association of Pakistan and International Development Research Centre, Canada. Findings have also made to the Pakistani  media.
Telephone ownership and use As latest ITU data reveals, active mobile subscriptions continues to increase the world over. Just under two years ago, mobile subscriptions were reaching the six-billion mark. 2009 data from the ITU suggests we are well on our way to reaching seven billion connections. Developing countries, in particular, experienced a 19 percent increase in mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants between 2008 and 2009, compared with a modest 5 percent growth in developed countries according to the ITU. Mobile subscriptions in the Asia-Pacific alone have now passed the two-billion mark; according to the ITU, mobile subscriptions per 100 rose by 22 percent from 46 in 2008 in 56 in 2009.
LIRNEasia‘s recently completed pilot project on the use of mobile phones for early detection of communicable diseases, led by Nuwan Waidyantha, was showcased at a press conference yesterday at Cinnamon Lakeside, Colombo. Below is an excerpt of an article appearing in Lanka Business Online. The ‘real-time bio-surveillance programme’ enables the rapid detection and notification of potential health outbreaks through mobile phones, software applications and a Web interface, said LIRNEasia, a regional information communications technology think tank. … The system was useful because of recent outbreaks of communicable diseases, with health authorities only aware of an outbreak when the media reported the death of several people. With the new system, data on patients and symptoms of illnesses are sent through mobile phones in real-time from hospital wards to the epidemiological centre.
A public lecture entitled, “From euphoria to pragmatism: The experience and the potentials of eHealth in Asia” is to be held at the Sri Lanka Medical Association, Colombo 7, on 14 September 2010 from 1500Hrs to 1730Hrs. The new paradigm, called eHealth, is being adapted widely, from primary to tertiary health care in many countries. However, looking at the current literature on the subject, the reviews have been mixed. For every successful and sustainable initiative that has been adopted several have fallen on the wayside. This lecture will look into the experiences of eHealth in Asia.
Rohan Samarajiva, LIRNEasia‘s CEO, will deliver one of two keynote addresses on “Imagining the Future and Making it Happen”, at the inaugural WSO2 Conference, WSO2Con 2010, in Colombo, on 14 and 15 September 2010. The conference is organized by WSO2, the open source technology company headed by CEO Sanjiva Weerawarana, in celebration of its fifth anniversary. Download presentation slides, here. The conference intends to become an annual international event of bringing together a technology community to exchange knowledge, vision, and share best practices and success stories. Under the title, “Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Cloud Computing: Blueprint for the Future Enterprise”, this year’s conference will focus on the implications and opportunities unleashed by the convergence of SOA and Cloud computing.
Research ICT Africa (RIA) has recently published a policy paper entitled, ‘Gender Assessment of ICT Access and Usage in Africa‘, based on findings from a nationally-representative household and individual-level survey of ICT use in 17 African countries. The full paper can be downloaded here. LIRNEasia Senior Research Manager, Ayesha Zainudeen, was selected to review the paper; her written assessment is available here. An excerpt of the executive summary of the paper follows: What is clear from the Research ICT Africa (RIA) Household and Individual Access and Usage Survey is that the diffusion of ICT is highly uneven concentrating in urban areas and leaving some rural areas almost untouched. Access to these technologies is constrained by income as is usage, and as they become more complex, they are increasingly constrained by literacy and education.
Much of the work of LIRNEasia must be seen on the context of connectivity fueling growth.   Connectivity does not mean simply electronic connectivity, but also the removal of barriers, including barriers to trade and investment.  Using comments by Nobel Laureate Micheal Spence at Harvard Forum II last September as the anchor, Rohan talks about how best South Asia, and Sri Lanka in particular, can position itself to ride out the after effects of the Great Recession. Details of the event here. Click here to view presentation.
The colloquium was led by Sriganesh Lokanthan. The objective of this colloquium was to develop an appropriate methodology for conducting value-chain analyses in the agricultural sector, in the context of mobilising ICTs, in particular, for developing an inclusive knowledge-based economy. The objectives of the study are: Achieve an in‐depth understanding of how innovations related to ICTs and related infrastructures are used (and may be used) to improve the efficiency and inclusiveness of studied agricultural value chains; the specific focus is on increasing the participation (inclusiveness) of small players (especially MSEs/SMEs) within the value chain through various forms of value addition and the reduction of various forms of transaction costs. Harsha – When we do research, not all of our innovations will be implemented. Main reason is the transaction cost of disseminating knowledge.
Spectrum allocation and pricing in Pakistan and India have differed considerably, one following market-based price discovery mechanisms through auctions, and the other, arbitrary pricing. Two articles, one by Mr. Muhammad Aslam Hayat, a regulatory consultant at Grameenphone, Bangladesh, and the other, by Payal Malik, LIRNEasia Senior Research Fellow, examines the past and present spectrum policy in Pakistan and India, respectively. Hayat writes: Pakistan introduced mobile cellular telephony early, in 1990. Although there was no clear spectrum management policy or roadmap available prior to 2004, the issuance of four mobile cellular licenses and the assignment of spectrum to those licensees were remarkably well thought out.
An interesting article appearing in the New York Times’ documents the life of a 311 call center operator in New York City. 311 is the city’s online website and phone number which can be used by anyone for obtaining government information and non-emergency services. Last week, the service celebrated its 100 millionth call since its inception in 2003. Each operator takes an average of 90 calls a day and costs $46 million a year to run. As she humourously notes: I had my moments of doubt: should government, for example, really be in the business of telling people when museums are open?
An article by an Indian journalist who attended the recently concluded Expert Forum in Islamabad, summarizes various “Mobile 2.0” initatives deployed by emerging South and Southeast Asian countries in recent years. “Mobile 2.0” applications can be described as those which offer services which are more-than-voice, such as payments, money transfers, and mobile banking. Bus tickets: The use of mobile phone to buy tickets has shown promising results for the public transport system in Sri Lanka.
This colloquium was presented by Sriganesh Lokanathan, LIRNEasia. Objective: to find out how Mobile 2.0 services are and can be used in the agricultural market. Mobile 2.0 services are defined as services for more-than-voice, can include both one-way and two-way information.
This colloquium was presented by Sangamitra Ramachander, PhD student, Oxford university. This is an early draft, and the paper may change significantly. This is based on findings from the Teleuse@BOP3 project. The context is that in a variety of sectors, private sector do not have prior experience in serving low income and rural markets; however, now the entering. They have to decide on an appropriate price such that it is still profitable.
Helani Galpaya, COO of LIRNEasia, will speak at the 25th EuroCPR conference held from 28 – 30 March 2010 in Brussels, Belgium, at a session on “Impact assessment of information society policies: what worked and what did not work in each region?”. The theme of the conference is on “Policies for a digital Europe: lessons learned and challenges ahead”. Presentation slides are available here. View the full programme here.
Prof. Rohan Samarajiva, CEO of LIRNEasia, made a presentation entitled, “Equitable communication for all:  South Asia’s contribution“, at the recently concluded ITU-APT Foundation of India Annual Convention on “Equitable Communication for All” held on 22 March 2010 in New Delhi, India. The presentation used  findings on LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP study on rising mobile ownership levels as proof of success of South Asia’s Budget Telecom Network Model, followed by telecos in profitably catering to BOP markets. The presentation goes on to examine how a similar model can be applied to provision of Internet services as well. View the full presentation here.
Prof. Rohan Samarajiva, CEO of LIRNEasia, was invited to speak a the 18th Convergence India, held from 23 – 25 March 2010 in New Delhi, India. His presentation entitled, “South Asia: Challenges of the Budget Telecom Network Model” presents data on rising mobile ownership levels from the Teleuse@BOP3 study, as evidence of success of South Asia’s Budget Telecom Network Model which has allowed South Asian telcos since 2005‐06 to make excellent (if highly volatile) returns by serving “long‐tail” markets of poor people by for example, investing in the “prepaid” market (lowering transaction costs) and focusing on revenue-yielding minutes rather than ARPUs. A full webcast of the event can be viewed here. View the full presentation here.