Research and Reports

Information Technology and Sustainable Development

Transcending all of the above research is a cross-cutting focus on the contributing role of Information Technology in development processes. This work derives from the assumption that the convergence of three trends -- persistent globalization, rapid expansion of the information and communication technology and infrastructure, and increased knowledge intensity of economic activity -- creates new opportunities for transcending barriers to development, enabling technology "leapfrogging,” and encouraging contributions of ICT to development. The focus is on reducing gaps to knowledge provision, access, and diffusion; supporting key global initiatives in "best practices”; responding to demand for local content provision; and addressing operational ICT strategies and investments supporting development. Specific research projects include:

e-Readiness Analysis

e-Readiness is a term often used to describe the set of variables that dictate the diffusion of digital capability for a company, region, or country. This project focuses on the set of infrastructure, policy, and socio-economic factors that determine the various paths (or trajectories) of e-Business diffusion worldwide. We introduce the notions of “e-Readiness for what?,” a question that forces us to differentiate between e-Readiness for e-Banking or e-Government, or for any other e-function, rather than to adopt a vague and unspecified notion of e-Readiness. We also introduce the concept of “multiple e-Paths,” or different approaches that might be pursued by different countries in different parts of the world. This work is in collaboration with faculty and researchers who form the “Group for Globalization of eBusiness” at the Center for eBusiness, Sloan School of Management at MIT.

Global Accords, Best Practices & IT for Sustainability

“Best practices” is a term generally used to describe ways of reducing the gap between knowledge and its implementation in the process of solving a particular problem. This project of the Technology & Development Program at MIT, in collaboration with the Malaysian University for Science and Technology, seeks to identify patterns of best practice in a set of select domains as they evolve over time, and ways in which applications have been manifested ’on the ground.’ Specific challenges involve understanding local-global dynamics, context-specificity and transferability, and implications of moving targets (or goals). This project examines general tendencies worldwide, as well as specific factors distinctive to Malaysia. This work is done in collaboration with visiting researcher Vincent Maugis.

Mega-cities & Sustainability

The challenges faced by rapidly growing mega-cities, especially in the developing world, are daunting. Among them is the need to meet the demands for physical infrastructure in a sustainable fashion. As part of the Alliance for Global Sustainability, in the project entitled “Sustainable Development and the role of IT for Mega Cities in Developing Countries,” we explore ways in which applications of Information Technology can contribute to improved management, planning, and decision-making in the context of rapidly growing mega-cities. Specifically, the project examines the provision of eco-efficient, equitable, and affordable shelter and related services, and relates this analysis to existing “best practices” and best available technologies. The fieldwork concentrates on current practices in two Asian cities. Collaborators are faculty from ETH (Zurich), Tokyo University, and Chalmers University (Sweden).