UPDATE February 6, 2009: RE: Broadband Training Best Practices:
The FCC has posted broadband training best practices http://lone-eagles.com/best.htm on their www.fcc.gov/indians site (listed as Examples of Broadband Training Best Practices) in their Internet Resources listing: http://www.fcc.gov/indians/internetresources/ With a new FCC chairman anticipated and a new President we can expect to see a lot of innovation related to Broadband and Social Media.
For Background details on this conference below: Go to http://lone-eagles.com/tokyo-report.htm
For the full APEC Final Report (summary only is below): Go to http://lone-eagles.com/apecfinalreport.pdf
“Seminar on Using ICT (Broadband) for Capacity Building of Rural Communities”
Tokyo, Japan, March 23-24, 2008
Draft Project Report Summary Highlights
Edited for the Wyoming Ecommerce Support Project
The Seminar on Using ICT for Rural Community Capacity Building aims to create a venue for APEC member-economies to discuss concepts and share current practices, methods, and experiences in implementing ICT for development projects.
The depth of insight on the issues was provided through the individual experiences of the various economies who presented their papers. What made the experiences more comprehensive and valuable was the diversity of economies who presented. On one hand, the United States, Canada and Japan represented the points of view of developed economies while on the other hand, Indonesia, Peru, and the Philippines, shared the challenges faced by emerging economies. Between these two developmental categories are insights from the papers of Korea, Chinese Taipei, China, and Malaysia.
The global shift to knowledge-based economies brought forth the urgent need to develop transnational lines of communications that is capable of transporting different forms of information to all members of society. With the global recognition of a divide and its various forms, a huge portion of developmental efforts have been constructed particularly for those who are in the rural areas. New demands on rural societies, due to increasing global competition and rapid technological breakthroughs in the developed economies, make the issue of the dearth of access to information in these areas more crucial.
Following the Declaration of the APEC Economic Leaders in 2006 affirming that APEC’s development be built on stronger societies and more dynamic and harmonious communities through information and communication technology (ICT),
This Seminar aimed to contribute to the Telecommunications and Information Working Group’s (TEL) commitment to implement concrete strategies that would achieve the vision of an Asia Pacific Information Society. Through the Seminar, identified issues, lessons and recommendations will be gathered to serve as inputs to a possible draft of a strategy and list of priority action areas for regional collaboration on the use of ICT in building the capacities of rural communities. An initial list of experts, collaborators, and practitioners was generated from among the participants (Appendix A) of the Seminar.
A major recommendation that was consistently presented all throughout the Seminar is that the needs and wants as identified by the community is the primary consideration in developing any strategy for ICT capacity building. The ability to address these will determine the sustainability of the services and the applications that will be made available to the community through ICT. It is very important that ICT-related policies take a broader approach to complement with other rural development policies and tailor ICT use with their prevailing problems, considering the community's readiness to adopt ICT.
A key factor in developing ICT capacity building programs for rural communities is the magnitude of the requirement. This will be determined by resolving whether to enable the intermediaries or direct our efforts to the end users themselves. Through this, the appropriate strategies to address the availability, affordability, and awareness of ICTs in the rural communities can be determined and the role of the private sector and other stakeholders can be clearly understood and identified.
A valuable tool for developing policy is research done at the level of target communities to help create a specific and localized approach in formulating strategies. It is also important to help policymakers and project proponents make informed decisions and plan strategies.
There are other recommendations which surfaced in the presentations and can be classified according to the three major policy areas:
Leadership & Governance
Build the capacity to build the demand. By working with the communities and community champions, they will be out there to promote the telecenter. Involve the stakeholders.
Interventions should be accompanied by local agents. Training and promotion is best implemented through them.
Public-Private Partnerships (PPP)
The success of many rural community projects are largely influenced by the ability of public-private partnerships that uses market-based approach toward disintermediation. Partnerships should not only be limited with the private sector but there must be an increased coordination amongst the multi-stakeholder partnerships of government, private sector, international organizations and civil society.
The government should take on the role of regulator as it creates guidelines to regulate the implementation of both public and private projects, and easily integrate them under national strategies.
Partner with the local academic and training institutions to be able to reach more members of the population.
In forging partnerships among the stakeholders, make a direct correlation between the deployment of broadband and the outcome on economic development, thus creating win-win partnerships.
Policymakers must be careful and not naïve in sharing the power of telecommunications to villagers. Training must come with the sharing of values and ethics in using ICTs.
Sustainability & Scalability
There is not one killer application for the community and will depend on what the community identifies for themselves.
Imposition of technology has stifled the creativity of the community to identify and use the technology they need to address their developmental needs and to encourage the development of indigenous technologies. It is the same in the selection and design of applications.
To plan sustainable programs, policymakers should think of using cheaper technologies to enable and prepare the population until the costs come down (e.g. China's telework).
Ensure that the population is aware of and will be involved in the program. The program should be able to qualify how the population should use ICTs.
Provide a more effective system of evidence evaluation and monitoring with new emphasis on indicators measuring socio-economic benefits.
(APEC TEL – Asia Pacific Economic Council Telecommunications Working Group)
The main purpose of the Seminar was to create a venue for the member economies to propose possible areas of regional cooperation based on what was discussed. A compilation of best practices and existing applications can be drawn from the Seminar and can be used as baseline information for regional collaborative projects.
Among the numerous issues and concerns that were raised during the Seminar, a possible area where the TEL37 steering groups could work on is to identify priority information areas (e.g. health, agriculture, livelihood, culture, environment, etc.) for the rural communities among member countries for which applications should be developed. Regional collaboration on application development on urgent information areas should also be identified.
Another area of cooperation that can be considered is the preparation of a simple inventory on capacity-building efforts that will identify strategies, best practices, and standards based on different community contexts that can be a reference for the member economies in creating their own.
For the short term, the Seminar participants could also use the Seminar website ( www.connectedruralcommunities.net ) as a repository of the compiled case studies from the event and other related studies. It will also be a venue to set up a forum for future discussions among the participants.
1. Global Best Practices on ICT Capacity-building Activities for Rural Communities, Frank Odasz (USA)
The presentation covered several initiatives around the world that features community-based,
localized ICT capacity-building projects.
Grameen Bank (Indian): The Grameen Banks' contribution for their third world micro-loan bank gives an innovative business practice in growing new markets through poverty-reducing measures.
Web 2.0: Creative individuals have produced the latest multi-billion dollar success stories by providing free self-expression and collaborative tools: Skype, Myspace, Youtube, Facebook, and others. Institutions and corporations such as Oracle, World Future Society, IEARN, and Epals invest in the youth to create learner-based learning objects and educational websites that are launched on their portals for the rest of the world to freely access.
Donnie Morrision (Scotland): Mr. Morrison, in partnership with the UK government, installed a wireless network for the communities in the Outer Hebrides Islands. Through this network he created a local skills database that was marketed to international corporations in London. Through teleworking jobs that were formed, many families went back to their hometown where their sources of livelihood can now be found.
Community Technology Centers (US): This ten-year program has shown little progress since it started. Most of the centers became unsustainable and much of its economic promises have not been realized by the communities.
Intel Teach Program: With the rush to mine raw human potential, the corporation aims to teach 10 million teachers by 2010.
Koyukuk (US): Using a flip digital album, the elders of this little Alaskan Village passed on their traditional knowledge to the coming generations. This village is wired with 256 kbps as broadband access and was successfully maintained.
The speaker's most salient propositions are as follows:
The age of Web 2.0 and bottom-up ICT-for-development initiatives has set the stage for a richer, more vibrant entrepreneurial culture among the youth, and those in the rural community who were once isolated from the rest of the global community.
Grand visions of Global ICTs for rural development practices used to be discussed based on generalities. The new trend gives space for ground-truthing - showing specifics of each local situation and local innovation.
These new participatory technologies allow everyone to be learner and teacher, consumer and producer, all the time.
The “build-and-they-will-come” mentality has become a failure. The mere presence of infrastructure will not reap the benefits that ICTs promise.
Subsidies also render the community handicapped once the term ends. These projects need social engineering strategies that will produce desired outcomes.
To be more effective in capacity-building, infrastructure and training should be funded on a one-on-one dollar matching basis.
With the emerging business models from the Web 2.0 model, the rapidly growing volume of bottom-up innovations need to be broadly shared. The eras of the politics of control and the politics of appearances have passed and we’ve begun the new age of transparency where strategies for mining raw human potential and social entrepreneurship will determine the future GNP for nations.
The different socio-political-economic aspects of healthy villages must be addressed by ICT4D projects. T he following eight wellness components are essential to a healthy community 1. Safety 2. Health 3. Education 4. Enterpreneurship/Ecommerce 5. Social Services 6. Culture 7. Environment, 8. Government 9. Entertainment
Policymakers must be careful and not naïve in sharing the power of telecommunications to villagers. Training must come with the sharing of values and ethics in using communication, and understanding how to minimize the potential risks of misuse.
Rural communities in developed societies still need to see the developmental role that ICTs play in their daily lives. A great part of planning capacity-building initiatives should start with the goal of letting the villagers appreciate ICTs' role in their economic progress.
Panel Discussion 1 on Leadership and Policy Framework
This panel discussion sought to discover who were the institutions who led and championed initiatives for ICT capacity-building in rural community development in their respective economies. It gave a survey of the existing policies that complemented and/or hindered the development of such programs.
1. The Philippine CeC Program, Patricia Abejo (Philippines)
This report discusses how the Philippine government, through the Commission on Information and Communications Technology, has stepped up to be the local champion for coordinating all local efforts of putting up Community e-Centers (CeCs) around the country and aligned these with national development goals. CeCs are public access points, similar to telecenters, that offer different government and social services to the communities where they are located, such as e-Learning, e-Government, e-Health, and other business services. This government-initiated project builds up on existing capacity-building efforts in the country and rationalizes them based on the roadmap to be able to direct them towards the goal of an inclusive and participatory e-society. Its goal is to be able to put up 1,500 CeCs by 2010 and as of December 2007, they have reached a total of 750, that is 50% of end target.
The CeC Program is consolidated under the Philippine CeC Roadmap. This Roadmap maps out further strategies such as creating the CeC Network and establishing the National Telecenter Academy. Capacity building initiatives are envisioned to be strengthened through such Academy. Current CeC programs were launched to address the information needs of communities in the sectors of education, agriculture, telehealth, and business.
The CeC Program shared several lessons learned from the experiences of the different local projects. These are:
CeCs ought to strengthen public, private, and civil society collaboration to ensure sustainability.
The Program should promote ‘Ownership’ and ‘Buy-In’ of local stakeholders through enhanced capacity-building and social preparation activities.
CeCs should engage in the development of content that is appropriate and relevant for the community or sector.
CeCs should adopt an enterprise model of running its operations.
The Program should be able to encourage knowledge-sharing of best practices through local, provincial, regional and national fora among its members and others who are engaged in similar programs.
It is important to integrate monitoring and evaluation mechanisms in all program projects.
As of date, the CeC Program will take the following steps to strengthen its mandate and take action on the basis of the lessons learned.
Consider community needs and characteristics in developing relevant local content
Pursue more capability-building efforts
Continually strive to obtain support from the local government
Ensure availability of ICT infrastructure
Develop a guide or a toolkit on CeC operations.
The Commission on ICT spearheads the coordination of the CeC Program, but more importantly relies on the contribution of all CeC stakeholders, such as the private sector, academe, and nongovernment organizations.