For some, it’s something they are used to. But for others it’s a new experience. They carefully touch the icons on the smart phone with tentative fingers and say “Puthalata, duvalata nang meva pulavan” (Our sons and daughters can easily do this) The group of farmers who gathered last week in Dambulla came from different areas in the Matale and Anuradhapura districts. Some had travelled long distances. They were a diverse group – ranging in age from twenties to fifties.
LIRNEasia researchers were in the field last week talking to vegetable farmers in Chilaw, Gampaha and Kurunegala. The discussions which took part in varying locations, are part of the LIRNEasia’s ongoing research for its ‘Inclusive information societies’ project. The project aims to assess the impact of opening up government data and making crop advisory information available to farmers through a mobile application. Initially the app will target farmers who grow cucurbits for export. Research work for the project is now underway.
The 8th International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD 2016) was held from 3- 6th June 2016. The conference held at the University of Michigan, saw a variety of sessions on different topics. LIRNEasia participated in the session on ‘Debating Open Development: Sharing and Interrogating Experiences of Developing Cross-Cutting Theory in ICTD’ organized by the Strengthening Information Society Research Capacity Alliance (SIRCA). This session provided an introduction to the SIRCA III Research Programme. LIRNEasia has been selected as one of the teams to conduct research in the empirical phase of the SIRCA III Programme.
While the rest of the Sri Lanka slept peacefully, a considerable number of young and enthusiastic programmers gave up sleep this weekend – but for a good cause. Anyone dropping in to the WSO2 offices in Colombo the early hours of Saturday or Sunday morning would have been greeted by the sight of exhausted but determined coders hunched over laptops, tapping away. Among them were three teams working on a problem put forward by LIRNEasia. This was the scene of the Code4good hackathon which started on Friday evening (18th) and ran non stop until Sunday evening. Though the intense work happened this weekend, preparation began much before.
The event ‘Twenty years of Internet in Sri Lanka’ was organized by the Internet Society Sri Lanka Chapter recently. The event was organized to look back at the achievements which established the internet in Sri Lanka over the last twenty years and to honour the pioneers who made this a reality in Sri Lanka. Professor Rohan Samarajiva, Founding Chair LIRNEasia was one of those felicitated at the ceremony for his contribution to the development of networking and Internet in Sri Lanka. As reported in the Financial Times, speaking at the event Prof Samarajiva discussed the progress made by Sri Lanka and pointed out some of the issues faced by Asia today. “What we have found through our research at LIRNEasia is that today, the real problem is the internet’s international connectivity.
Nalaka Gunawardene in his column published in Ravaya on 31 May 2015 looks at the current status, benefits and challenges of Sri Lanka’s Information Technology supported Business Process Outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry. The column touches on the challenges faced by the industry and mentions the observations made by LIRNEasia Founding Chair, Prof Rohan Samarajiva at a recent panel discussion on ICT innovation and awareness organised by the Business Times Sri Lanka, where Prof Samarajiva commented on problem areas that should be a priority for Sri Lanka such as slow broadband speeds and too-high latency times. The column also touches on the need to enable PayPal payment systems and highlights the potential of the industry to create high-end jobs for skilled professionals in Sri Lanka. The full column can be read here.
LIRNEasia Founding Chair, Professor Rohan Samarajiva’s comments that Sri Lanka should facilitate an open data culture were highlighted in a recent issue of the Sunday Times Sri Lanka (Business Times section). These comments were made at a Business Times panel discussion on ICT innovation and awareness held on Wednesday 13th May at the newspaper office auditorium. The article notes Professor Samarajiva’s observations that facilitating an open data culture would foster products being built out of the public Big Data resources currently restricted by the government. Professor Samarajiva also observed that the Sri Lankan government could help local innovators by allocating pilot programmes for new technologies, pointing to the example of MillenniumIT, which received initial assistance and continued support from the Colombo Stock Exchange. The article also notes Professor Samarajiva’s comments on problem areas that are a priority for Sri Lanka, including slow broadband speeds and the need to put proper payment systems such as PayPal in place.