Over 450 participants and more than 50 speakers gathered in Manila last week for the first-ever Digital Strategies for Development Summit 2014 on 3-4 October at the Asian Institute Management (AIM). The two-day conference served as a hub for the civil society, social enterprises, the private sector and government agencies to share ideas to harness the potentials of digital technology at a developmental framework.
The summit focused on five streams: Youth, Education and Employment; Good Governance; Disaster Management and Climate Change; Health; and Social Innovation and Enterprises. Juan Miguel Luz, AIM Dean, opened the event by highlighting the significant role digital technology plays in solving issues about the complexities in the world.
“The world is dynamic… Digital technology is relevant in making sense of the complex world and how to handle these complexities,” he said, adding that the space of public good is no longer the sole domain of the government. He also noted in his closing remarks that the private sector and NGOs have been a very vital part in bridging this challenge and pursuing the attached opportunities.
“The new currency of information and data, and how to make use of them, is equally crucial. Networking is the new arithmetic; because it is not just about the number of people you’re connected with; but more on the number of connections you have with friends,” Luz added.
Meanwhile in his keynote address, Bart Edes, ADB Chair of Social Development and Poverty Community of Practice, gave an overview about the plausible applications of digital technology on different issues concerning the society. On one hand, he said ICT serves as tool shifting education towards “student-centred learning.” On the other, it also improves the current status of health as ICT provides greater inclusiveness and access.
Connected Action Group Chief Social Scientist Marc Smith spoke of Social Network Analysis and how social network theory can be used in analysing and maximising the impact of digital technology.
Apart from the five main plenary discussions on technology for good, governance, education and employment, health, and ‘Connecting the Dots’, the event also saw parallel breakout sessions showcasing solutions and upcoming innovations on the five streams. Among the innovations introduced in the [breakout] sessions were:
• The e-Governance platform, Spark Biz, where LGUs and investors can collaborate to advance local economic development through community implementation
• The health tool Community Health Information System (CHITS), established to have electronic medical record for improved access to public health care
• The social initiative, Kid Camp, which caters to children with Autism so they can concentrate better and comprehend further
• The Disaster management network, ICLEI, which conducts projects for climate change mitigation
• The education programme 1-text message story, where children’s reading is improved through daily text messages
“Digital technology may not be the ultimate and only answer; it can nevertheless make the work of development pioneers and thought leaders more efficient. It is through technological strategies that we can greatly enhance progress with a people-centred, innovative, inclusive and responsive development,” Sreenivas Narayanan, Managing Director of ASSIST, said.
DSDS also served as the launch of the three-year ‘TechLab’ programme, a collaboration of ASSIST, AIM, the Local Government Academy (LGA) and Civika—which will be culminated in 2016. Mini-conferences and workshops on technology-for-development will be rolled out in the coming years, leading up to LGA’s 25th anniversary in 2016.
DSDS 2014 was organised in collaboration between ASSIST, AIM, the Department of Interior and Local Government, Local Government Agency (DILG-LGA), AsianNGO, Bridging Cultures and Civika. Among the premium partners were TechSoup Asia, Microsoft, The Asia Foundation and Smart; and community partners Intel, (Dot)Asia, and Go.Asia.