Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D) – A Design Challenge?

2006-05-01T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Rahul Tongia Eswaran Subrahmanian
In this paper, we make the case that ICT projects in the developed and developing world often lead to partial or total failures due to the incomplete assessment of the problem being solved and the metrics used to evaluate solutions. While in the developed world the success of ICT solutions are often determined by the market, with available infrastructure and market mechanisms, in the developing world this ecosystem does not exist thus requiring an understanding of the ecosystem in which ICT solutions are to be applied. Using literature from the design space, and experiences in ICT for development, we elaborate the dimensions of design such as incorporation of stakeholders, incentive structures, and design participation that are critical to successful deployment. We examine some successes and failures in product/solution development in the ICT area to identify the dimensions of good design incorporated by these products and services. With the perspective that ICT for sustainable development issues are ill-structured and "wicked problems" that have to incorporate all the defined dimensions of design, we propose a model of product and service identification and development that is based on insights from asynchronous computational agent problem solving. We claim that new methods such as the one proposed need to be identified, developed and tested for their effectiveness in the development of products and services that satisfy the needs of human development