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Rohan Samarajiva

Talking e gov with the government of Sri Lanka

I’ve never had a conversation with a government before. But today they had assembled (almost) all the secretaries, all heads of government organizations including the heads of the armed forces and the police into one location. The government was launching its On(egov)ernment strategy, that has a whole of government approach that requires collaboration among government […]

Citizen-centric smart cities

I am not sure surveying current smartphone users, especially in countries where smartphone penetration is still low, is the best way to gauge the demand for smart-city services, but it is a useful input. Here are some key findings from an Ericsson study that is available on the web. The report – which surveyed over […]

Is it an e commerce company, or is it a conglomerate using transaction data from e commerce?

At one time, transaction-generated data (TGD) was the by product. E commerce or retailing services provided over the web was the main product. But if analysis of the TGD is used to give the company leverage in other sectors, resulting in acquisitions or entry .. . What is dog and what is tail? According to […]

In the end, it’s all about mindset

LIRNEasia’s image is tied up with ICTs, thought from the beginning we wanted to be an infrastructure shop. Ports are infrastructure, and for the city I live in, perhaps the most vital infrastructure. So this piece fits. But the fit is even more from the mindset side. Everything we do as a think tank is […]

Google: From a mobile-first world to a mobile-only world

There is no guarantee that companies always bet right, but I’d place weight on their wagers more than on those of armchair theorists who are still arguing for FTTH as the only solution. Ask Google why they want a big, Nexus 6 size phone, and the answer is ready: “We are moving from mobile first […]

On the puzzle of figuring how many Internet users

The Economist is a plum. In all honesty, I was thrilled we were mentioned. I wish they had gone to people with real data on Africa like RIA, rather than those who simply speculate, but still, a thoughtful piece. While the claim re radio may hold true for Africa, it definitely is incorrect for the […]

Insurance as a key element of future disaster risk reduction strategies

Ravaya landslides

Despite the massive goof-up with the situation reports which over-reported the number of casualties from the Koslanda landslide by a factor of eight (300 as against the actual 38), the country has been shaken by the disaster. The Sinhala language weekly, Ravaya, was dominated by it. The article that I contributed, building on the thinking […]

Myanmar: Can coverage keep up with demand?

The telecom operators in Myanmar are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. The demand for SIMs is so high that call and data quality is compromised. If they restrict supply, a black market develops. If they don’t, their image gets sullied. I was pleased to read that Telenor had postponed its rollout […]

Landslides, and what can be done about them

We’ve had too many disasters. The tsunami, the LTTE, Nandikadal. And now Koslanda. After the tsunami we asked what could be done to avoid a repeat. We found answers. Ten years later we can be confident that it will not be that bad, the next time. But landslides are very different from tsunamis and cyclones. […]

Reflecting on the philosophical basis of LIRNEasia

LIRNEasia seeks to foster evidence-based reform. The evidence, in the countries we work in, points to most of the needed actions having to do with reforming the state, by getting it to pull back from its current role of stifling decentralized innovation. This has caused many on the unthinking “left” plying their trade in the […]

Bangladesh has highest ICT-equipment-specific taxes

A report from the Innovation and Information Technology Foundation has been used as the basis for a good report in the Daily Star on the situation in the worst offender, Bangladesh. Of course, it did not hurt that they sought our comments. Our comments were based on the findings of the Systematic Review we completed […]

Human resources for the knowledge economy

The development of knowledge workers is obviously important for the emergence of inclusive knowledge economies. We have been working on this, but it has not been front and center of our public communication. This will change in the next little while. The 2015 Budget Speech of the Government of Sri Lanka placed its central emphasis […]

Reinventing social science

Taking research to policy is our thing; social science is a means to that, not an end. Yet, we cannot help but think of how weak an instrument social science has become, especially in South Asia. Here is something I wrote in relation to some internal discussions a few months back: Expressed demand for social […]

The digital transition is complicated, everywhere

I’ve been asked by several people to comment on the choice of a Japanese standard for digital broadcasting in Sri Lanka, as part of the process of clearing the 700 MHz band of analog TV broadcasting and making the freed up spectrum available for more productive uses. I have not commented, partly because I lack […]

Give big data, or be forced . . .

We’re thinking about how we can leverage mobile network big data to help manage infectious diseases. Now the Economist has gotten on the case: Doing the same with Ebola would be hard: in west Africa most people do not own a phone. But CDRs are nevertheless better than simulations based on stale, unreliable statistics. If […]

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