Monday, March 15, 2010

Initial search

Since 2002 I started to seriously search for some no-profit organization that would be able to use my IT skills to benefit international development projects. Although my official main expertise is in the financial industry I can fruitfully contribute to IT systems for many different sectors. And since then I did some thinking and analysis to verify that indeed IT is (can be) employed in a variety of sector to support and facilitate many functions. Especially thinking of international development (on which I also will share some thoughts) come to my mind sector like education, healthcare and other public services, microfinance, social and cultural inclusion, human and labor rights and more. Functionally IT can be used for investigate needs, planning, delivery and monitor of services as well as facilitate the interconnection of people and organizations.
Thus, who, which no-profit organization wouldn't benefit from a free hand on understanding better and maybe implementing some IT system to make their mission more effective or reach a broader constituency?
IT is became so pervasive not only in the cutting edge industries that surely from the United Nations down to other large international organizations (like Oxfam, Care, Red Cross, Amnesty International, etc...) must have someone focusing on this subject. Disappointingly, no, from my research only the United Nations in its vastity was (at that time) having a sporadic interest in IT for Development (IT4D). IT4D that only became a bit famous as ICT4D (Information and Communication Technologies for Development) and as a sub topic of the Global Digital Divide (international unequal access to ICT). With the linking of the Global Digital Divide (GDD) to the Millennium Development Goals there has been a flourish of activities by a growing number of individuals and organizations on a few aspects of the GDD and ICT4D, mostly aimed at assessing the situation, proposing policies and some technologies to facilitate Internet and mobile phones access in developing countries.
Despite this proliferation of labels and activities, I was still thinking that nobody was interested or willing to analyze and discuss some technological and strategic ideas to bring about a practical approach for more and better IT4D.
My volunteer applications to the UN and a few other organizations were turned down with messages like "... at this moment there is not need of your skills..." and never been contacted afterwards as if IT was something completely unecessary.
That's when I decided to try to start an organization that could be a way for professionals to encounter, discuss and coordinate IT4D projects. Despite some significant effort DigitalRight and Programmers Without Frontiers did not achieved (yet) this mission goals. This blog is an additional tool to try to spread some ideas and encourage some discussion around this critical aspects of an equitable sustainable international development.