India


Many countries have yet to open up government information. Even India, which has a freedom of information law, has so many exceptions to the duty to release. Simply releasing information is not enough. We need to have information in usable form. This NYT article shows some good examples.
We are always happy when people use our research. Happier when we are mentioned as the source too. We thank the writer and/or the source for attributing the results to us. While there is no separate data on the number of female subscribers in the country, according to a recent Lirneasia Teleuse Survey (a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank), mobile phone ownership is far lower among females than males in South Asia. Statistical analysis shows that gender has a significant impact on mobile phone adoption at the bottom of the pyramid in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India.
Prof. K. Vijayraghavan, Director of the National Center for Biological Sciences, in Bangalore is one of five recipients of this year’s Infosys Science Foundation prize, given to world-class researchers in social science in India. Along with our friends from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras’s – Rural Technology and Business Incubator, Prof. Vijayraghavan is one of the Investigators of the Real-Time Biosurveillance Program (RTBP) carried out in the state of Tamil Nadu in India and Sri Lanka.
The health departments and health workers involved in the Real-Time Biosruveillance Program (RTBP) pilot see the benefits in the m­-HealthSurvey for real­-time data collection, T­Cube Web Interface for near­-real­-time outbreak detection, and Sahana Alerting Module for real­-time health risk information dissemination. Preliminary lessons to date indicate the need for more robust mobile application for data collection with complete standardized content in disease­-syndrome for reduction of noise and increase of reliability in the datasets. More rigorous capacity building and frequent use is required for health officials to take advantage of the full potential of TCWI. Further exercises need to be carried out with the Sahana Alerting Module to understand its shortcomings. Given that the system has been in preliminary use for less than six months, it is anticipated that the usability issues will subside in time to come.
Based on LIRNEasia’s broadband QoSE research findings, we ran an advertisement in the Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka’s leading English daily) on 24 November 2009.  The advertisement focused on four facts. The first three were on value for money, advertised download speed as opposed to actual download speed and bandwidth bottlenecks.  The lack of regulation on contention ratios (how many users per “channel”) was highlighted as the fourth fact We pointed out that LIRNEasia’s recommendation about imposing contention ratios of 1:20 (Business) and 1:50 (Residential) had been adopted by the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), with minor changes.  TRAI mandates contention ratios of 1:30 for Business and 1:50 for Residential.
There is a massive mismatch between the supply and demand for education in journalism and electronic media in India. All media markets, MSM and new, are booming, with a massive demand for people to work in them. Demand is being met mostly by unaccredited private establishments, and by on-the-job training. The government appears to be supplying significant funding for journalism and electronic media education at the Indira Gandhi National Open University (originally an open university, where people were to study from afar). They held a national symposium to assess the challenges and opportunities.
I wish the question mark was not necessary, but the record so far does not allow me exclude it. We started this process in the weeks before the 2008 SAARC Summit. When the issue was mentioned in the SAARC Chair’s speech and included in the Declaration, we were, naturally, pleased. I recall telling a journalist that at most it would take a few months to get this implemented. We raised the issue with the then Chair of the South Asian Telecom Regulator’s Council, Mr Nripendra Misra of India.
In addition to giving the keynote at the OECD/infoDev workshop on the Budget Telecom Network Mode at the IGF in Sharm el Sheikh, I attended several sessions, one being that on reducing interconnection costs. The key recommendations seemed to cluster around two actions, creating Internet Exchanges in each country and reducing leased line costs by introducing competition and breaking incumbent control on essential facilities such as cable stations. Our findings from countries that have had working Internet Exchanges at various times such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka show that their effects fluctuate (there is an unfortunate tendency of internal dissension in these things) and that getting leased line prices (both domestic and international) down is, on balance, more important. That unless the leased-line problem is not solved, the good work done on Internet Exchanges will be washed out. There is an assumption that every country should have an IX.
“I can’t imagine how and based on what measure TRAI set 256kbps internet connection as broadband. It’s very difficult for users to work with this speed. Please don’t compare Bangladesh and Sri Lanka while setting standard for India.” This was how a reader responded when Indian Express online carried a story on the dissemination of the findings of LIRNEasia’s broadband research at the GRT Grand Hotel convention centre in Chennai on November 3. Another story in ‘The Hindu’ quoted Timothy Gonsalves PhD, Head of Computer Science and Engineering Department, IIT-Madras, our research partner from IIT Madras saying the implication [of the latency introduced by complex routing of network traffic] for consumers is that though a user may get close to the speeds advertised by the operator while accessing servers within India, the download speeds from an international server for even a supposedly fast broadband connection would only be in the 200 kbps range.
Findings from LIRNEasia’s latest round of broadband quality of service experience (QoSE) testing has been published in Chennai’s Financial Chronicle and The Indian Express, two leading print newspapers in India. Read the two of the articles here and here. There is disparity in the advertised broadband speed and the actual speed, according to the findings of a research project jointly carried out by Learning Initiative on Reforms for Network Economies Asia (LIRNEasia), TeNeT Group of the IIT Madras. Excerpt below: “There is disparity in the advertised broadband speed and the actual speed, according to the findings of a research project jointly carried out by Learning Initiative on Reforms for Network Economies Asia (LIRNEasia), TeNeT Group of the IIT Madras.There is disparity in the advertised broadband speed and the actual speed, according to the findings of a research project jointly carried out by Learning Initiative on Reforms for Network Economies Asia (LIRNEasia), TeNeT Group of the IIT Madras.

Why postal reform is part of ICT policy

Posted on October 31, 2009  /  0 Comments

All over the world, postal services are hemorrhaging red ink. They are being done in by the phone and the Internet. Yet their salvation is also the phone and the Internet. As commerce becomes e commerce, there is a high demand for reliable delivery services. In countries ranging from Korea to Sri Lanka the postal service is NOT reliable.
The   objective   of   this   document: Guidelines for Evaluating RTBP v0.4 is   to   outline   the   evaluation   methodology   for   assessing   the upstream   communication:   data   collection,   data   processing:   event   detection,   and   downstream communication: alerting/reporting stages (verticals in Figure 1) on the aspects of social, content, application, and technology of a Real­Time Biosurveillance Program (RTBP). The blue arrows across the verticals and the horizontals indicate the interoperability between elements.

Telecom access rankings in South Asia

Posted on October 24, 2009  /  18 Comments

According to the ITU ICTeye, which is now carrying 2008 data, Pakistan’s surge to overtake Sri Lanka has petered out, leaving the Maldives (143 active SIMs/100 people) as the undisputed leader in mobile connectivity (apparently all adult Maldivians carry two active SIMs; there are only two operators in the Maldives), and Sri Lanka second with 52 SIMs per 100 people. On the fixed side, assisted by CDMA phones that are counted as fixed, Sri Lanka is the leader (17 connection per 100 people), followed by Maldives (15 per 100). Like in cricket, the middle of the rankings are the most interesting. Both Pakistan (50/100) and Bhutan (37/100) are ahead of India (29/100) in mobile. This shows that India cannot afford to let up the pace of 10 million connections a month for some time.
A m-HealthSurvey Certification Exercise was carried out as part of the m-Health Real-Time Biosurveillance Program (RTBP) to measure the usability and adoptability of the m-HealthSurvey mobile application. The exercise was conducted with health workers in Sivagangai District, Tamil Nadu, India and in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka. The final results of the exercise will be published in the near future. m-HealthSurvey is a mobile application developed by indian Institute of technology Madras’s Rural Technology and Business Incubator (RTBI) for collecting near real-time patient disease, syndrome, and demographic data for rapid detection of disease outbreaks. It is a J2ME midlet that allows users to select categorical data as well as type information to generate patient clinical records to be submitted via GPRS to a central database.
m-Health Real-Time Biosurveillance Program (RTBP) interviewed Medical Officers in Kurunegal District in Sri Lanka and Sivagangai District in Tamil Nadu, India, during the months of September and October, 2009. These interactions revealed that outpatient health record entry in real-time by Medical Officers, using the mobile phone key pad is inefficient and the idea was rejected by them. The aim of the RTBP is to collect digitized patient disease, syndrome, and demographic information from the point of care to rapidly detect disease outbreaks. Village Health Nurses in Tamil Nadu examine at most 70 patients a week. Ninety percent of the Village Health Nurses opt to jot down the records on paper and later enter them leisurely after the day’s work is complete.

Lessons of 2004 tsunami used in Samoa

Posted on October 3, 2009  /  2 Comments

A report on the response to the tsunami that hit Samoa shows that preparedness and evacuation planning saved lives even though they had barely eight minutes after the warning from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Countries like India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have enough distance from the unstable Sunda Trench and therefore are likely to have more time to organize evacuations. For Indonesia and Thailand, unfortunately, the time will be less. The Pacific islands were so close to the epicentre of the earthquake that a wall of water hit Samoa within eight minutes after the Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii sent its first bulletin Tuesday. Several Samoans said they heard no sirens or warnings, but fled as soon as they were woken up by the earthquake.