LIRNEasia is a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank active across the Asia Pacific

Author Archives: Rohan Samarajiva

City as platform

We’ve been writing about smart cities for a while. Many of the plans for the design of these complex organisms have fallen short of expectations. But now some are taking a new approach: Sidewalk thinks of smart cities as being rather like smartphones. It sees itself as a platform provider responsible for offering basic tools […]

Engel’s Law redux: Evidence of life getting better in Sri Lanka

This is not the first time Engel’s Law has been written about here. And unlikely the last time. The 2016 Household Income and Expenditure Survey report is out and we’ve started poking around for insights. Here is a sample: From a high of 60.9% of total household expenditures spent on food in 1990-91, the food […]

What is not bias?

Bias is an important topic in general. It is of special significance to a research organization. Issues of bias being built into models that are beginning to play significant roles in society and economy are coming to the forefront of public discourse. So we decided to talk about this topic at a Journal Club. Colleagues […]

The role of data in disaster risk reduction and in post-disaster phase

I was invited to speak at the launch of the UNDP-funded DataSmart initiative of the Ministry of Disaster Management, where some work is being done by Sarvodaya Fusion. I talked about the need not only to collect data, but also to ensure that it produced the right kind of information that could be translated by […]

Badulla is the worst in terms of telecom connectivity in Sri Lanka

The Household Income and Expenditure Survey is an important report. The 2016 report is just out. The previous report (2012-13) found that 12.5 percent of Sri Lankan households lacked telephone service, fixed or mobile. By 2016, the phoneless households had declined to 8.5 percent. Where are these households? Back in 2012-13, one out of four […]

A telecom reformer is no more

I just heard of Maev Sullivan’s demise. It’s always sad to hear of the passing of friends and those who engaged in the hard work of telecom reforms. She was with Mercury when the UK market was being opened up. She fought the battles to make interconnection possible. I still remember her formula: first they […]

LIRNEasia research on electoral demarcations at Ashoka University

Since 2015, we have been working on different aspects of electoral reforms. The first implementation of the Mixed Member Proportional System in Sri Lanka’s local government elections on 10th February 2018 was a research to policy achievement for us, though of course we did not get everything we wanted. And the work is not over […]

Problems with simplistic price comparisons

The World Economic Forum recently published some broadband price comparisons that generated some social media conversation, mostly because Sri Lanka, which had the lowest broadband prices according to the ITU, was now the 17th cheapest. LIRNEasia Research Manager Shazna Zuhyle who is active in the ITU’s indicators committees had this to say: The WEF has […]

Likely that international voice calling is heading for extinction

People are talking across borders more and more. But the minutes carried the old-fashioned way by telecom operators are on a downward trajectory. It won’t be long before conventional calling will go the way of the telegram. Telcos terminated 547 billion minutes of international traffic in 2013, and Skype plus carrier traffic totaled 761 billion […]

How indicators and metrics can improve performance

We had proposed standard comparative metrics for universal services because we said they would lead to improved performance and changes in programs. Some academic reviewers rejected our article on the ground that metrics could not improve performance. It’s difficult to educate ignorant peer reviewers because they are anonymous. But who knows, they may stumble upon […]

One indicator to rule them all

Many of the discussions at organizations such as ours that are driven by the need to influence policy through research, center on indicators. We need to be able to communicate quickly and effectively how things have changed for the better or for worse, ideally in comparison with benchmarks. The best way to do this is […]

Another justification for cell broadcasting

Here is what happened when someone in a probably tsunami impact zone received a warning from the authorities in British Columbia, Canada, a few days back: Meg Devlin, who lives near Victoria’s Gorge waterfront, said she was awakened by a message at 3:02 but didn’t recognize the phone number for Victoria’s Vic-Alert emergency notification service, […]

Why don’t mobile network operators report smartphone penetration data?

It has always puzzled me why we have to conduct expensive surveys to find out what mobile operators already know. Every CDR [Call Detail Record] captures the IMEI number of the handset. It’s nothing to report this and thereby support those who are developing apps. Here is one MNO giving the data: Huawei was the […]

Jobs of the future and how to prepare for them

Our work on online freelancing has provided us with an interesting lens to think about jobs of the future. The demand for the kinds of work that can be done online seem to be changing at a rapid pace, and not in an easy-to-predict manner. The threat of automation is ever present. In that context, […]

Lessons for disaster warning from Hawai’i fiasco

Every disaster and every false-warning incident is a learning opportunity. We have done these kinds of assessments after many disasters and false warnings sometimes at great length, as in the case of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and sometimes simply through a blog post. Our focus has been on naturally occurring hazards, but the recent […]

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