What is Community Informatics (and Why Does it Matter)? Michael Gurstein Centre for Community Informatics Research, Development and Training Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA [email_address]
Community Informatics or ICT4D?
Community Informatics puts communities first in the application of ICTs for Development.
What is Community Informatics?
Community informatics (CI) is providing ICT resources and tools to communities to pursue their goals for local economic development, cultural affairs, civic participation, community based health and environmental initiatives among others.
CI pays attention to the needs and objectives of communities and implements technologies responding to those needs and objectives.
CI is enabling/empowering (bottom up) communities with ICTs
CI is the “social appropriation”/community ownership of ICTs
CI is of interest to:
practitioners—how to do what they do
researchers—how to make the work of practitioners more effective
policy makers—the DD, development, community centred policies
What’s Different About CI
CI puts communities as users at the center of the discipline
CI has as its objective to enable communities to achieve their multiple goals
CI includes the user, the use, and the larger social context in the analysis
CI links researchers, practitioners and policy makers with research supporting practice and practice informing research
CI draws from a range of disciplines and research traditions—MIS, CS, Social Work, Communications, Planning/Urban Studies, Development Studies, Sociology, Anthropology
Examples of CI
Telecentres providing information support services for rual communities (South Africa)
A rural health centre using the local telecentre to support remote vidoeconferencing (Canadian aboriginals)
An distributed rural high school built on a community controlled ICT platform (Peru)
A community based rural radio station using an ICT platform and the Internet as its source for programming (India)
A rural tourism program using a local telecentre for bookings and other logistics management. (Malaysia)
A rural ICT centre supporting a farmers innovation circle (Bangladesh)
Stakeholders in CI Researchers Practitioners Policy Makers
Community Informatics Approach to ICT Practice Access Adoption Social Appropriation Effective Use
Only bottom up community based strategies work in ICT4D!
Policy plays a key role in community based ICT4D
Research plays a significant role in community based ICT4D
Role of partnerships particularly between universities and communities
Significance of networking for scaling up
ICT4D is a “political” process i.e. It is about how power is distributed in society
The technology does matter (but not that much )
Michael Gurstein Centre for Community Informatics Research, Development and Training