In December 2008, D.Net has successfully completed the first phase of the international research project on 'Investigating the Social and Economic Impact of Public Access to Information and Communication Technologies'.
D.Net joined this international research collaboration initiated by International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The project is managed by telecentre.org in partnership with the Center for Information & Society at the University of Washington Information School.
Over the last decade governments, international development agencies, foundations, and corporations have made significant investments to increase public access to information and communication technologies (ICT), particularly in the developing countries. As these investments continue to grow, questions are being raised about their social and economic impacts. Particularly: What are the observable social and economic impacts of public access to ICT? What is the magnitude of these benefits and how can we measure them? What is the relationship between costs and benefits of providing public access to ICT?
In the first phase of the research, D.Net participated in development of inventory of public access to ICTs, namely telecentres, cyber cafes, libraries etc. D.Net also conducted an information ecology mapping, which provided important cues for research design. A literature review on public access to ICTs conducted in Bangladesh was also completed.
In the second phase of the project these questions will be answered using longitudinal and comparative research approaches. The study will be conducted in 10 countries. It will examine the impact of a range of shared, public access to ICT models, such as libraries and telecentres, as well as other models and innovations that will emerge over the next five years. The research will examine both positive and negative impacts on the well-being of the population in areas of employment and income, education, civic engagement, democracy and governmental transparency, culture and language preservation, health and other factors that are identified as a priority.
Bangladesh was selected as one of the pilot countries for designing the research. Other two pilot countries are Chile and Lithuania. The second phase will start in January, 2009 and will continue up to February, 2012. Bangladesh country research team was formed with participation of D.Net and BRAC-Research and Evaluation Division.