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LIRNEasia CEO Helani Galpaya was invited to a panel discussion titled “Is Innovation Sexist” in celebration of International Women’s Day.  The event was held in Ottawa, Canada on the 8th of March, It was inaugurated by Celina R. Caesar-Chavannes, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development.
Reliance shook up India’s markets once, with what appeared to be an oxymoronic strategy of limited mobility. It worked. The market was transformed and the effects reverberated across the developing world. In a different guise Reliance is back. The market is being transformed.
In the talk that I gave at Manipal University, I emphasized the significance of audiences in today’s economy. Here is a piece that highlights what appears to be a counter-trend. Yet for much of that time, the business side of culture looked under assault. The internet taught a whole generation that content was not something you really had to pay for. So for years, digital content companies — especially those in the online news business — looked doomed to pursue a scale-only, ad-based business model.
Never a good idea to read a paper, even though one existed because I wrote it up at the request of the organizers of the Manipal conference. Here is the conclusion: The communication space has been transformed by the attention economy. Thinking on policy has changed, with policy expected to set the ground rules for all participants rather than just define the role of the state. Operational challenges are significant given the difficulties of delimiting the scope of communication policy. But even more challenging is that theory has not caught up with practice.
LIRNEasia research fellow, Dharshana Kasthurirathna, Ph.D. presented a paper, ‘Detecting Geographically Distributed Communities using Community Networks,’ at the International Workshop on Mining for Actionable Insights in Social Networks that was held in conjunction with the Tenth ACM International Web Search and Data Mining Conference in Cambridge in February 2017. The paper was co-authored by three LIRNEasia research fellows (Dharshana Kasthurirathna, Madhushi Bandara, Danaja Maldeniya) and Mahendra Piraveenan from the University of Sydney. Based on the presentation, there was an invitation to extend the paper to be submitted to a special issue of the Elsevier Information System’s journal, with a draft journal paper due in April 2017.
I’ve been invited to deliver the chief guest’s address at International Conference on “India’s Communication Policy and Strategy,” at Manipal University, Karnataka, India, March 17-18, 2017. The topic I picked is “Communication policy in the age of Facebook.” Here is what I think is the key para: Though difficult, it is possible to develop a comprehensive, modern policy for the communication space through diligent consultation and the involvement of multiple agencies of government. But it would suffer from a fundamental instability. This is because the media (broadly defined) are no longer just a segment of the economy.
In July of 2016, the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, announced a new multi-million dollar funding initiative to support collaborative data innovations for sustainable development. The University of Tokyo and Colombo-based LIRNEasia are among the winners in the pilot round of this initiative. Their proposal, entitled “Dynamic Census,” aims to improve the existing census approach by deriving insights from mobile operators’ call detail records (CDR). It will supplement population and housing census data by adding dynamic aspects of population distribution to changes in population distribution over time, at high frequency. More details.
India was reported to have had 638,596 villages, of which 593,731 are inhabited according to the last census. Over 9 percent of the inhabited villages, 55,000, are said to lack mobile coverage. Sinha said that, according to the 2011 Census, there are 55,000 villages that don’t have mobile connectivity. The government, he added, had drawn up a plan to ensure the villages are brought on the mobile telephony network, especially in hilly areas and Left-wing extremism-affected regions. Congress member Renuka Chowdhury pointed out that mobile towers had been destroyed in Maoist violence.
A US lawmaker’s comment that people should give up their smartphones and pay more for health insurance has led to an outpouring of statements about the utility of the many uses that can be made of smartphones: “A cellphone is a lifeline,” said Myla Dutton, executive director of Community Action Provo, a food bank and social-service nonprofit. Jose Valdivia, 61, said he wouldn’t be able to quickly look up the latest engine modifications when he was repairing sport-utility vehicles at the mechanic’s shop where he works. His wife said they wouldn’t be able to send photos to relatives in Mexico City. The couple spoke as they waited for an appointment at a free health clinic run by volunteer nurses and doctors two nights a week in Provo. Not surprisingly, smartphones abounded in the waiting room.
Lokanathan, S., Perera-Gomez, T., Zuhyle, S.
LIRNEasia is carrying out research on the use of promotional and free data use in Myanmar and India. The results from our work  in Myanmar have now been released. This piece of research was carried out with financial support from Mozilla, the Google Policy Fellowship program, the UK Government’s Department for International Development, and the International Development Research Centre, Canada. We found that differently designed zero-rated promotions elicited different behavioural responses from users. Noteworthy was that many respondents were unaware of content offered by MPT’s Free Basics other than Facebook.
We’ve written a lot about taxes on this site. We’ve even showcased studies that showed optimal revenues for government were not obtained by raising taxes. But the current Finance Minister in Sri Lanka does not appear to hear any of this. But we keep hoping. So here is another nuanced contribution from Gabe Solomons.
Our work on online freelancing also served as a probe on the emerging platform economy. Contrary to many concerns in the developed market economies, we found that almost all those participating in online freelancing were staying with their parents and doing the work part time. Concerns with variable income, uncertainty and difficulty in establishing credit were present, but in attenuated form. Which got us thinking about insurance as a mechanism to address those problems. Of course, health is one of the biggest uncertainties.
Little over a year ago, I wrote about various infrastructure initiatives linking South Asia with Central Asia. Using the gas pipelines’, power grid’s and road networks’ right-of-way of for cross-border telecoms link was central to my arguments. Now the Indian Railways has planned to create a network, dubbed as ITI-DKD-Y corridor, to operate freight train service over a stretch of 6,000 kilometers. It will connect Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey through railway tracks, according to the Indian Express. Indian Railways has called South Asian railway heads involved in the project to work out the nitty-gritty at a high-level meeting on March 15-16.
The countries in mainland Asia are mostly interconnected through submarine cables. Public and private incumbents abuse their ownership of submarine cable systems followed by hindering competition in wholesale bandwidth sales. As a result, Asia remains impaired by the lack of cross-border Internet connectivity and exorbitant bandwidth prices. Hong Kong and Singapore are the only carrier-neutral wholesale capacity hubs in Asia. Yet, their prices are higher than the corresponding European and North American outlets.
The Times of India has many critics on account of its pursuit of moolah, but still, it is a serious newspaper. UNISDR is a serious organization that is part of the UN system. One assumes the Senior Communication Officer of UNSIDR is not a flake. But the story below causes me to rethink all those assumptions. Brigitte Leoni, senior communication officer of the UNISDR, writes about the importance of Maya’s hurricane early warning system that has not only helped in averting severe disaster casualties but also helped in development of modern tools.