I was recently invited to Phuket, Thailand by Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) to attend their Strengthening ICT Research Capacity in Asia (SIRCA) final research conference. SIRCA is based out of the Singapore Internet Research Centre based in the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, and the SIRCA programme was set up to improve the research skills of bright, up-and-coming researchers from Asia in the ICT4D field. This global dialogue was supposed to bring researchers from around the world to think broader as to how the new Asian ICT4D research has implications in the global context.
The SIRCA programme is unique because through its 2 year cycle, the emerging researchers are mentored throughout the time by a prominent senior academic / researcher who help their mentee reach publication status through guidance on thorough and valid research practices. As my first impressions, the 15 chosen mentees for the first round of funding were early career and starting to produce new research in ICT4D and at the end of the programme, they have been able to produce high quality work now found in journals like Media Asia.
The first day was dedicated to new research. 15 projects were presented and the diversity ranged from political blogging and its influence on the greater public in the Philippines, to participatory GIS mapping for planning for landslide protection in Vietnam. At the meta level, the research being produced under SIRCA is getting closer to the answer of how the use of ICTs are changing the behaviours of normal citizens and how such change have major implications for development. The presentations can be found here.
For Africa, similar type of ICT4D behavioural research is being produced and we can probably see some similarities coming through. For example, SIRCA had research on mobile health, and agricultural informational services and ICTs which are activities and interventions also being measured for impact in Africa. In better knowing the research in our global world, only then can we start to make the linkages and possible synergies to start address the most pressing issues in our world.
On a side note, be sure to look at the new ITID edition for the future in ICT4D research and theory building.