Seema Patel

The Role of IT in International Development – Upcoming E-Conference

What role do information technologies play in economic development? We’ve been trying to answer that question ever since the Digital Dividends conference way back in 2002, first as an IT-focused research team and now as Development through Enterprise and There are no simple answers–which suggests to me that we should keep asking.

One group that does a lot of good asking is the RiOS Institute, whose upcoming e-conference and summit are worth checking out. The e-conference, co-organized with the World Bank Institute, is entitled “ICT for Economic Development: Exploring Possibilities for Multisector Technology Collaborations” and begins on October 23.

The Silicon Valley Challenge Summit will discuss the uses of information and communication technologies for global development and what steps Silicon Valley institutions have been and can continue to take to create sustainable development initiatives that address poverty. The summit is co-presented by the Center for Science, Technology and Society (CSTS) and will be held on November 16 at Santa Clara University.

The Summit is intended to be a call to action. With a lack of suitable models, the Silicon Valley community is hoping to create a dialogue around what their role is in working for global development. Joining in on this discussion will be Al Hammond, along with many other experienced and knowledgeable experts in the field.

With the vast amount of resources available and inherent to a community such as Silicon Valley, there is great potential:

?In the same way in which Silicon Valley has exported its models of innovative research, entrepreneurial drive, and cross-institutional collaboration, it now has the opportunity to play an exemplary role in exploring new ways to create a more equitable and sustainable future for all inhabitants of the world.?

How will Silicon Valley rise to the Challenge? Having had successful and not-so-successful ventures on a grand scale, Silicon Valley is in a unique and very important position to use their experience as a teaching tool. Their experience just may be their greatest asset. They can use their information, technology and knowledge to help communities fight poverty by arming the poor with those same three vital components. There is an urgent need for ICT in underdeveloped areas where access to even the smallest bits of knowledge can have far-reaching, long-term effects. This Summit is providing a much-needed forum for an issue that needs a great deal of attention. And with the resources and ideas that will hopefully become available at the end of this Summit, the potential for Silicon Valley as a catalyst for sustainable development is almost limitless.