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7 Questions to Ask Before Adding ICTs to Your Development Project

By Wayan Vota on March 12, 2010

When looking at integrating ICTs (Information and Communication Technology) into existing programs, or making an initiative go further or work better with ICTs, there is a lot to figure out before you even get started.

Over the past few months, I’ve been supporting the development of a mobile data gathering/ crowd sourcing and mapping workshop for youth in Benin. The training is part of a broader initiative to reduce violence against children.

ICt integration planning

We’ve decided to use Frontline SMS and Ushahidi as tools in the project because we think (and want to test whether) mobile data collection/ crowd sourcing incidents of violence will allow for a better understanding of what is happening in this area. We also think that geo-visualizing reports of violence against children may have an impact on decision makers and might allow them to better plan prevention and treatment programs and services.

At first I was most worried about whether we could get the technology itself set up and working, but as I started digging in, it was immediately apparent that the technology was the last thing to worry about.

The first thing to consider is probably: Why are you doing this?

Well, we all have our different reasons. But even in a worst case scenario where someone wants you to use ICTs because they are cool or you have funding for them (*not the case in the project I’m writing about, but I’ve seen a lot of this going around) you might be able to salvage the project if you ask the right questions and get the right people involved in finding the answers.

Many of the questions I’m asking myself and my colleagues now will be asked again next week when we are all together on the ground with local staff, youth and community members. I expect there will be more questions added to this list, and that a lot of our current assumptions will change. But here is the starting list that we’re working from (in no particular order, as answering one may alter answers to another one):

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  1. What are your specific information and communication needs and goals?
  2. Are you working within a particular framework or project/program already?
  3. How is the issue you are working on currently dealt with?
  4. What are the parameters for information collecting? What is the local use of ICTs?
  5. What are the privacy and protection issues that you may run into?
  6. How will you close the circle and manage expectations?
  7. What other questions come up based on the context of your initiative and your experience?

Read the complete discussion of these questions on 7 (or more) questions to ask before adding ICTs by Linda Raftree.

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Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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