Blog — LIRNEasia


Internet versus internets

Posted by Rohan Samarajiva on August 10, 2020  /  0 Comments

For the longest time, US negotiators of international resolutions, statements, etc. which had something to do with the internet, used to quibble over capitalization of the word. They insisted on uppercase Internet because they said it was one single thing and therefore should be capitalized. Negotiators from countries like China and Iran, obviously disagreed. They preferred internet.
We are inviting Proposals from potential Bidders to conduct a nationally representative study on Impact of COVID-19 on households and the workforce in Sri Lanka. The full RFP can be downloaded here. Please also see our Technical Proposal Template, Financial Proposal Template, Contract Template and Sample Locations before submitting the proposals. Deadline for submissions is 23 August 2020.
I received a cold call from a member of the public today. He began by explaining how he found my mobile number. COVID-19 had got him thinking and he wanted my advice about career progression. Somewhat befuddled, I asked why me? He said that he recalled seeing me on TV talking about new work opportunities.
We like to think we can foretell developments in the industries we study. I can recall meeting a Jio operative at Abu Saeed Khan’s home in Dhaka before they launched and chatting about what was to come. We all agreed that Reliance would disrupt the market. All I could come up with was that voice would most likely be free, or very cheap. That was nothing very insightful, because that was where the technology was at that time.
App-based contact tracing solutions have become popular during COVID-19. However, most such apps have seen mixed results with limited citizen uptake and numerous privacy and ethical concerns. Wearable contact tracing devices, which promise several improvements over app-based solutions, have met with considerable interest in recent times. This document explores the key considerations in developing and deploying wearable contact tracing devices and provides recommendations to decision makers.
Report by Vignesh Ilavarasan on the estimation of the potential for automation in the Indian economy, December 2019.
Ramathi Bandaranayake presented the following paper at the 3rd International Conference on Gender Research, held July 16 – 17 2020. The conference took place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper discusses the findings of our qualitative research related to female online freelancers in India and Sri Lanka.   Bandaranayake, R., Iqbal, T.
LIRNEasia entered the disability space because we recognized the transformative potential of smartphones, from our work in Myanmar. It is reassuring to see that this is what PWDs are saying in the US as well. They also talk about well-meaning outsiders proposing solutions to problems that do not exist. That also resonates with our thinking and the way we allocate the resources that we have. We spend a lot of effort to understand the problems that are important to the PWDs in the countries we work in.
A great deal of our work starts off with rigorous demand side research; knowing what, how and why users engage with digital technologies provides us with a solid evidence-base to make our policy recommendations. For example, the nationally representative data that we had collected through our AfterAccess surveys in six Asian countries, provided us with a solid evidence base to argue for various policy changes as soon as the pandemic hit. https://lirneasia.net/AfterAccess-COVID19. But going forward with current projects getting off the ground, and in the midst of designing new ones, we’ve had to think about what the pandemic, lockdowns, social distancing, etc.
During a pandemic, the emergence of scientific knowledge may be slow and subject to sudden change. However, swift and decisive policy making is often needed to minimize the damage caused by a pandemic. As a result, policy makers often need to make quick decisions with limited knowledge. This policy brief provides ethics-based guidance for decision making in pandemic-related policy. We situate this guidance in the COVID-19 pandemic, and focus on the following areas: Decision making under uncertainty Privacy of the infected and exposed The ethics of digital contact tracing technologies Restricting the movement of people in quarantine and during lockdowns
Sometime in March 2018, the Sri Lankan government blocked access to Facebook, citing the spread of hate speech on the platform and tying it to the incidents of mob violence in Digana, Kandy. While some lauded the idea, the reality was that Sri Lanka has had a long history of racial violence cultivated by political actors. It has also long since had the powers to arrest instigators of racial violence – the ICCPR Act 56 of 2007 – and did precisely nothing, choosing instead a form of collective punishment for the entire population while shifting the blame away from criticism over lack of police protection for the citizens under attack, something it did again in even more dire circumstances. Nevertheless, it did something interesting: it brought Facebook to the table. To set the record straight, the Data, Algorithms and Policy team at LIRNEasia has engaged with Facebook before.
Wijeratne, Y., de Silva, N. (2020).  Sinhala Language Corpora and Stopwords from a Decade of Sri Lankan Facebook. LIRNEasia.
Disasters wreak havoc and destroy full-scale infrastructures, homes, schools, hospitals, communication systems, and disrupt access to food, clean water, electricity, and transportation. Individuals with disabilities are disproportionately affected in disaster, emergency, and conflict situations due to inaccessible evacuation, response (including shelters, camps, and food distribution), and recovery efforts (Robinson, 2020; Samant Raja et al., 2013; Stough & Kang, 2015; Wolbring, 2009).  The primary focus of this study was reviewing literature on PWD and DiDRR (Disability inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction) specifically involving Asian countries to find gaps in inclusive crisis communication Additionally, the study explored other relevant literature all of which is discussed in the literature review. Thereafter, the method involved synthesizing the findings to propose a conceptual architecture for ICT-enabled assistive technology in support PWDs facing crisis situations.
App-based contact tracing solutions have become popular during COVID-19. However, given their mixed results, wearable technology may prove to be the future. Early last week, it was reported that Singapore had started distributing Bluetooth-powered, wearable contact tracing devices to the elderly, as the first phase of a renewed effort to cover each of its 5.7 million residents with a digital contact tracing device. This new device follows the limited uptake of the earlier TraceTogether mobile app, which has only been downloaded 1.
For those of us who have been thinking about e commerce and the reasons for people not taking to it in large numbers for decades, the COVID-19 related lockdowns gave much to reflect on. Below is an excerpt from something I wrote in the first weeks of the Sri Lankan lockdown in the Daily FT and also in Sinhala. E commerce vendors in Sri Lanka were having a hard time making sales. And these were companies that were dealing with items that do not go bad. The demand that spiked in the past weeks was mostly for goods such as dairy, fruit and vegetables that require care in storage and transportation.
The new normal for education would necessarily involve a heightened awareness of and a focus on sanitation and social distancing. Will the new normal include transformative use of ICTs for learning? Our research shows that it depends on how well policymakers learn from the experience of organically formed teacher-parent-student networks in using ICTs for teaching at a distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Use of ICT for teaching is different from the use of ICTs for learning. Teachers have been increasingly using multi-media, e-blackboards, learning management systems and student management systems for efficiencies in teaching, but the effectiveness of teaching is in the learning experienced by students.