Regional Development Getting Smarter with ICT

Regional Development Getting Smarter with ICT

Saleem Zoughbi (United Nations University, International Institute for Software Technology, Macau SAR, China) and Sukaina Al-Nasrawi (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, Lebanon)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch641
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Background

Understanding Development

Development has the overall concern of achieving a higher quality of life for people. It is a ‎process of affecting change in different sectors of human life, with overall ‎objective of enhancement of quality of life, and mitigation of risks that ‎counteract such enhancement. The process of development itself is taken in a holistic and ‎multi-disciplinary context of human development. ‎

Usually development is planned nationally by the government to realize the specific ‎objectives of human development, this covers vital sectors such as governance, healthcare, ‎education, poverty reduction, gender equality, disaster preparedness, infrastructure, ‎economics, human rights, environment and others. Such aspects of development would touch two major qualities of life: social and economic.

Although a lot of development work has been taking place in the world, under the scope of ICT for development (ICTD4D), no clear strategy is available for regional ICT for socioeconomic development. To make research in this context more indispensable is the fact that new technologies are taking shape quickly that provides greater potential for applications than traditional IT systems. To mention some of them: smart sensors, open data and cloud technology.

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Development In Action

Challenges

The multidimensional concept of regional development is determined by a multiplicity of factors such as availability of natural resource, human resources, capital availability and access. Other factors may include overhead investments, entrepreneurial culture and attitude, physical infrastructures, technological infrastructure and progress, open mind, public support systems, and so forth.

The major challenges of regional development are many; however they are characterized by two dominant issues: how regional progress of better life is initiated and how can we cope with undesirable interregional progress discrepancies? The first question addresses the economic issue of how to use scarce resources (i.e., inputs such as capital, labor, physical resources, knowledge etc.) so as to generate a maximum value of output. The second question is more of a socio-political equity nature and addresses the mechanisms and conditions (economic, policy interventions) that may help to alleviate undesirable development disparities in the space-economy.

One of the major concerns of controlling such development is the location of human activity. In fact in the past few years it was clear that a growing imbalance of human activity across regions causes major challenge to development. Things get worse even: a generation ago, people in the top 20% were 30 times as rich as those in the bottom 20%; nowadays, they are more than 70 times as rich! (Nijkamp & Abreu, 2009). The location patterns of people and economic activities globally world cause a great variation not only in the dispersion of economic activity, but also in the dispersion of better life among regions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT): Technologies that provide access to information through telecommunications. It is similar to Information Technology (IT), but focuses primarily on communication technologies. This includes the Internet, wireless networks, cell phones, and other communication mediums. In the past few decades, ICTs have provided society with a vast array of new communication capabilities. For example, people can communicate in real-time with others in different countries using technologies such as instant messaging, voice over IP (VoIP), and video-conferencing.

Smart Technology: The technologies (includes physical and logical applications in all formats) that are capable to adapt automatically and modify behavior to fit environment, senses things with technology sensors, this providing data to analyze and infer from, drawing conclusions from rules. It also is capable of learning that is using experience to improve performance, anticipating, thinking and reasoning about what to do next, with the ability to self-generate and self-sustain.

Crowdsourcing: A process by which an organization or individual can exploit and connect information or solutions from a versatile spread group of people. Essentially, it can be described as an open call for proposals from the public hence providing real directions and needs for development where strategic development planning can rely on.

Digital Divide: A social issue referring to the differing amount of information between those who have access to the Internet and those who do not have access. The term became popular among concerned parties, such as scholars, policy makers, and advocacy groups, in the late 1990s.

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