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হোম > Stimulating Economies Through Information Infrastructure
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Stimulating Economies Through Information Infrastructure

Intel Corporation, the largest manufacturer of Microprocessor organized a daylong Southeast Asia Government Economic Forum on ‘Stimulating Economies through Information Infrastructure’ in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 24th March 2009. The important thoughts and insight were presented in the forum by distinguished speakers: 01. Navin Shenoy, Vice President, Sales and Marketing Group General Manager, Asia-Pacific Region, Intel Corporation; 02. Robert Atkinson, President Information Technology & Innovation Foundation and Advisor to US President Obama Administration on Economic Stimulus; 03. Brian Mefford, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Connected Nation; 04. Peter Pitsch, Director Communications Policy, Intel Corporation & Former Chief of Staff of the Commissioner of the FCC; 05. John Davies, Vice President & General Manager, Intel World Ahead Program. The information conveyed in the forum is important in the aftermath of the global recession and for the government’s declared vision of the ‘Digital Bangladesh’.

The gloom of recession has many brighter and innovative sides. Many readers may not be aware about the common factor of these three companies: General Electric, Google & Hewlett Packard that they were all started during an economic downturn:

1. GE- founded in 1892, during the Long Depression. The Long Depression was an alleged depression or recession that supposedly affected much of the world and was contemporary with the Second Industrial Revolution.

2. HP – founded in 1939, during the Great Depression. The Great Depression was a worldwide economic downturn starting in most places in 1929 and ending at different times in the 1930s or early 1940s for different countries.

3. Google – founded in 1998, after Black October. In October 19, 1987 stock markets around the world crashed, shedding a huge value in a very short time.

The challenges of the gloom of recession have been historically challenged through largest projects in history. The figure presented here gives the global initiatives and stimulus taken at various periods of recessions utilizing IT.

In 1998 when recession hit hard on Asian economies Taiwan increased investment in ICT design and manufacturing, ICT infrastructure to accelerate innovation and broadband to support private sector and government services online. This resulted in Taiwan emerging as ICT giant, global center for PC design and Innovation and creations of high value jobs.

Vietnam in its bid to achieve global competitiveness, economic growth and jobs creation approved US$1 billion stimulus through VAT reduction and duties elimination for all IT products, provisioning from Universal Service Fund (USF) to complement Broadband funding and interest rate subsidies (4%) for business loan.

The US government has also approved $787 billion stimulus package with the motivation to create jobs and new industries. This stimulus package has component of US$6~9 Billion for broadband and US$ 50 billion for energy smart grid.

The Peoples Republic of China has allocated US$ 570 billion with the motivation of economic growth and to emerge from recession even more competitive.

Use of ICT in the stimulus program of various governments are documented in ‘Digital Prosperity’ published by The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), which states that:

‘The economists in all strong economies have come to consensus by late 1990 that more and better use of IT is the major driver of productivity growth. Research has shown that productivity effects of IT were not concentrated just in the IT producing sector. It was found that productivity boom was broad based with two-thirds of industrial sectors experiencing an acceleration of productivity after the mid-1990s. It has been observed that even though IT investment has increased, it is still less than 25 percent of the total capital investment. Why then has it had such a large impact on productivity? One reason is that it seems to be ‘Super Capital’ that has much larger impacts on productivity than other forms of capital equipment. For example Gilchrist, Gurbaxani and Town (2001) found that accelerated investment in IT generated increases in productivity over three times greater than would be for the case if it were other kinds of capital investment. A similar study in Australia (Poon and Davis, 2003) found that IT investment were four to five times more productive than other capital’.

A report titled ‘The Digital Road to Recovery: A Stimulus Plan to Create Jobs, Boost Productivity and Revitalize America’ published in January 2009 by ITIF identifies and analyzes the employment impact of investments in three IT Infrastructure projects that 01. contribute to significant immediate direct and indirect job growth in US economy, 02. create a ‘network effect’ throughout the economy that in some cases doubles the number of directly created jobs; and 03. provide a foundation for longer term benefits, including government cost savings, economy-wide productivity, and improved quality of life for Americans. The three IT infrastructure projects are broadband networks, health IT and the smart power grid.



Robert Atkinson and Daniel D Castro in their report ‘Digital Quality of Life’ states that ICT is the most important factor driving improvement in a vide areas critical for the quality of life for individuals and healthy societies. But by and large, policymakers have not fully appreciated extent to which IT is driving change and enabling improvements, nor the impact-pro or con-that public can have on this development. The report suggests that it is imperative that policymakers around the globe follow at least ten key principles if their citizens and societies are to fully benefit from the digital revolution. To ignore these principles risks slowing down digital transformation and minimizing the benefits of a digital society. These principles are outlined below.

Look to Digital Progress as the Key Driver of Improved Quality of Life :

Spurring widespread use of IT must become a key component of public policy, supplementing govern¬ment’s three traditional tools: tax policy, government programs, and regulation. Progress in a host of policy areas—including health care, transportation, energy, environment, public safety, and the economy—will be determined in part by how well nations develop and deploy IT. As an example, solving surface transporta¬tion challenges will be difficult without the widespread use of IT, whether it is to implement congestion pric¬ing or to provide real-time information on traffic con¬ditions. Indeed, IT transformation must become a key component not just of government agencies dealing with commerce or telecommunications but of every government agency or ministry.

Invest in Digital Progress :

Many of the technologies and applications driving digi¬tal progress will be developed by the private sector and purchased by individuals, with little or no role needed for government. But many IT applications are inher¬ently related to core public functions including trans¬portation, education, health care, public safety, the provision of government services, community devel¬opment, and the environment. These IT applications must be considered critical areas for increased public investment because they form core components of the new “intangible” public infrastructure that is driving improvements in quality of life. In addition, govern¬ments should be investing in research and development (R&D) and supporting private sector R&D to help develop new technologies and applications, including areas such as robotics and large-scale sensor networks.


Ensure Affordable and Widespread Digital Infrastructure :

For the digital revolution to continue, policymakers must invest in renewing and revitalizing the underly¬ing digital infrastructure. This entails not only spur¬ring investment in physical IT infrastructure, but also ensuring that the appropriate and necessary regulations and standards exist to spur, and not hinder, adoption. Thus, for example, policymakers should make ad¬equate spectrum available for wireless innovation by taking measures to open up unused “white spaces.” In addition, policymakers must remain vigilant in ensur¬ing that the components of our digital infrastructure, from global positioning system (GPS) signals to high-speed broadband Internet access, continue to be up¬graded and improved.

Encourage Widespread Digital Literacy and Digital Technology Adaption :

The benefits and promise of the digital information revolution are immense. As IT becomes more central to improvements in our lives, it is important to en¬sure that people are digitally literate and have access to digital tools so that they can realize the full benefits of the digital revolution. To succeed in today’s global, knowledge-based economy, people at least need basic computer and Internet skills. In 2008, about 75 per cent of American adults reported using the Internet; the comparable percentage in many developing na¬tions was far lower. Governments in the United States and elsewhere need to do more in partnership with the nonprofit, and sub-national government sectors to spur widespread digital literacy and technol¬ogy adoption.

Do Not Let Concerns about Potential or Hypothetical Harms Derail or Slow Digital Progress :

By definition, all technological innovation involves change and risk, and driving digital progress is no dif¬ferent. As we go forward in an array of areas, policy¬makers must give adequate concern to issues of privacy, security, civil liberties, and other issues. But the focus should be on addressing these concerns where appro¬priate in ways that enable digital progress to rapidly proceed—not on stopping or slowing digital progress as so many advocacy groups and special interests try to do today. In part because of the claims made by some of these groups, and notwithstanding the progress that IT enables, all too often, well-intentioned policymak¬ers are willing to consider laws and regulations that would slow digital transformation and reduce, rot im¬prove, quality of life.

Do Not Just Digitize Existing Problems; Use IT to Find New Solutions to Old Problems :

IT offers powerful new methods for collecting, manip¬ulating, and distributing data; however, IT is a means and not an end. Simply using technology to continue existing practices will not necessarily lead to better re¬sults. It is important to recognize the potential ben¬efits of IT and promote the use of new solutions that harness 11 to address existing problems in new ways. Organizations may find that investing in IT solutions to solve targeted problems gives them the tools they need to solve additional problems. City governments like Baltimore that collect citywide data, for example, can analyze this information in real-time not only to improve deficient city services but also to discover new opportunities for government savings.

Create Reusable Digital Content and Applications :

Rather than focusing on creating flashy websites and graphics, government agencies and ministries should concentrate on creating reusable digital content using interoperable standards such as XML. Providing digital data that can be shared and reused multiplies its value many times—and is far more valuable than just build¬ing a website that may only solve a small set of problems. Government alone cannot do it all nor will it always come up with the best solutions. Instead, policymakers should promote efforts that encourage collaboration be¬tween stakeholders in the public and private sectors.

Collaborate and Partner with the Private and Nonprofit Sectors :

Policymakers should recognize that government alone cannot provide its own digital solutions to every prob¬lem and will not always come up with the best solu¬tions. For that reason, the government should embrace opportunities to partner with the private and nonprof¬it sectors. Currently, in the United States, a number of public-private partnerships are working to spur de¬mand for broadband services.

Lead by Example : When practical, government should be an early adopter of new technology rather than solely relying on industry to lead the way. Through technological leadership, government can play an important role in spurring markets and proving concepts. By establish¬ing tele-work policies and creating tele-work best prac¬tices, for example, government agencies can pursue green IT initiatives.

Nudge Digital : By using “choice architecture,” institutions can en¬courage or discourage certain group behaviors—when appropriate, policymakers should nudge citizens to adopt digital technologies that deliver proven value. As shown repeatedly throughout this report, digital solutions often provide substantial cost-savings while improving quality and outcomes. For example, imag¬ine all of the savings in energy and paper if by default all personal banking and credit card statements were electronic. If citizens had to opt-out of programs, such as receiving electronic statements, instead of opting in, more individuals would participate. Governments should make or allow the default choice to be digital.

In light of these insights provided in the meet and the government’s vision for the ‘Digital Bangladesh’ it is imperative for the government to consider providing similar stimulus package and investments in the coming budget for the ICT and Power sector.

CJ Web

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