How can impact be measured? Why is showing impact important for the users, organization founders, governments ?
For making an impact, We need an attempts to better understand the impact in economic and social development especially in poor countries, usually we use cross-country data on this countries and conduct any project to identify a number of case studies demonstrating the impact of staff and voluntary sector organizations delivering public services on both the public service. the transformation of economic and social relationships and processes is particularly visible in those countries and areas that have the highest Internet penetration levels. The spread of broadband seems to have a particularly important role in certain areas, including for the emergence of e-commerce, teleworking, and e-education and health. This highlights the need for developing countries to pay special attention to broadband deployment and strategies.
In many countires in Africa, performamce measurement or evaluating the impact of internet pernetration still lacks behind. I mean there is a need to invest more resources in the area of research to help poor countries determine the direction of internet usage, pernetration and indeed general impact on peoples lives.
Most governments in poor countries have in most cases even failed to support implementation of their ICT policy documents. I understand that sometimes, it is due to a fact that ICTs have not been mainstreamed or incoporated effectively in development planning. If Policy documents can be translated into actions, it will also be easier for programming or to put into action activities that can be easily measured.
In Zambia, we were at pains with our local ICT forum in the last two years to advocate for government implementation of ICT policy documents including putting in research components.
Really Dean, an important challenge for governments in poor countries is how to seize greater benefits of (ICTs) for economic growth and development. We know the rapid diffusion of the Internet, of mobile telephony and of broadband networks all demonstrate maybe a main factor in measure of impact and the governments must be awareness how adapted this technology for implementation of ICT policy.
As far as I see, Impact of an action (ICT4D or other) could be short term or long term. In Sri Lanka we had Tsunami. which had a short term as well as long term impact (which we are yet to experience). The short term impact was quite visible, the long term impact need lots of data. I am taking ICT4D Impact similarly.
If something does not have a short term impact, it might not survive to make a long term impact. I think we have to design projects with both kind of impact. We also need to define means of data to be collected to measure the impact of a project or a milestone.
A market development project will show impact in a shorter time while an eductional project will make us wait long for expected results. Impact help us to find that wheather we are on track for the goal or not.
So impact assesment and method definition need to be an on going process built into the project mechanism.
Initially we can ask people what they feel on the project effect (feedback) , Lately we need to look at the changes made to their life, their knowledge or their activities etc.. etc.
Measuring thease changes with nos is usually the impact assesment. Yet I have a question on impact comparision of two project implemented in two locations with two different community attributes, a single
yard stick will not help us in this case as other parameters come into play.
Still I think studying similar projects, can lead us to define a possible frame work for impact measurement.
What a great subject that you brought up. I would argue that despite many relevant studies about impacts of ICT among under serve communities/social groups around the globe, we however continue to be blind. So rather than new studies what we really need is a different approach that can help us to understand and measure what is happening with the whole package of technologies already out there.
There is no doubt in my mind that around the globe, people are using technology in many ways. Levels of access and quality of available offerings differ from country to country because many factors that often are not directly related to technology itself.
So, the question is what is really driving the development of certain technologies among different groups, communities, countries or regions? How we Telecentre practitioners can move away from the incidentals stories of success that populated our reports to more consistent data that can show trends and objectives impacts of what people do or look for? And, later use this information to improve the way we operated in the field.
Any Telecentre big or small, connected or not connected to the Internet generated an incredible amount of data every day that we hardly use. So, once again improving exchange of best practices and empower the use of networks such this one, can help us to better picture those social impacts. This is a simple start but certainly we CAN do much more.
The need for assessment and measurement is crucial. Fortunately as the technology matures assessment and metrics are often built into the platforms. ---this ning is a good example. One additional way for a telecenter to 'prove its worth' would be to create a knowledge base or wiki for its community. Contributing and maintaining the wiki becomes one of the learning activities of the Telecenter. Local experts and global friends can assist in adjudicating. Beginning a local knowledge base (wiki) is one of the first steps to creating a knowledge economy. By including local, regional and national experts, the Telecenter extends its influence and values accessible local individuals and institutions. This may help mitigate appearances of power conflict and provides inclusion.
An interesting discussion here!
In my opinion, measuring impact provides vital clues to the success or failure of a particular program. That is, if the impact or what the program intended to achieve or do are obvious and visible, it clearly shows that the program has achieved its goals. And measurinbg impact becomes even more important if the program is related to development whether at a large or a small scale. It is important to know and understand if the program has been able to achieve its stated objectives completely; if not completely, then to what extent; what are the loopholes on the way, etc.
There are several ways of measuring impact. For measuring long term impact, you need to have a baseline data, i.e., the state of affair at the start of a program. The baseline data would provide you the background against which you can measure the impact.
For example, if a telecentre program is being implemented it would be useful to gather information about the demographic composition of the village; their respective information needs; the traditional ways in which they have been fulfilling these needs so far; what is lacking in this regard and so on. These informations will serve as the baseline data.
But even before measuring long term impact, there are ways in which you can start observing the immediate impact of any development program/ project. Attitudinal and behavioural changes in the village community are the foremost in this category. For example, if majority of adolescent girls have started taking better hygenic care of themselves during the menstrual period or new mothers have started giving more importance to infants' inoculation after attending a health awareness program or after being counselled, the program has succeeded in its purpose.
So, for measuring impact, you have to decide whether it is about long term or short term or imediate impact. Then, accordingly you can choose an appropriate methodology. Positive impact goes a long way in convincing users, organisation founders, donors or the government about the worth of the program or project!
Ms Shipra Sharma has poited out many important aspects regarding impact assessment.She may pinpoint the methodologies their merits and demerits.The discussion is really very interesting.Thanks everybody for active participation.
It presents a set also, impact assessment for pushing ICTs for development projects and It presents a set of lack of political , motivation and a lack of knowledge about how to undertake impact assessment of ICTs for development.
The frameworks that can be used by ICT4D practitioners, policy-makers and consultants to understand the impact of informatics initiatives in developing countries.
Measuring the impact of ICT4D is indeed a paramount issue that should be addressed if communities are to have social and economic development. However, as most of you have pointed out, it's a tricky issues.
Why? Positive impacts of technology vary from one place to place..what could have worked in one community may not be in position to work in another community and this becomes hard to assess impact. For instance, though mobile phones are gaining so much popularity in rural and developing countries, this is not the case with the western world. So this leaves out a lot to be desired. May be certain indicators can be put in places for assessment and evaluation purposes e.g. research methodologies that have proved efficiency- some of which can include case studies, methods that address compatibility issues and some that Shipra brought out. These would help.
We all know that what gets measured gets valued. Many organisations (Telecentres included) have social, environmental and economic impacts that have an effect on people, their communities and the environment for the better. They may be a social enterprise or even a Telecentre, yet in today’s world it is necessary to communicate specific details about those benefits in order for them to be fully acknowledged
So when measuring impact
----What do we measure?
------How do we measure it?
------And how do we choose indicators for measuring?
Hello, it would seem to make sense to develop some important metrics and outcomes that are more universal--but equally important is for the community to decide what it wants to measure and address.
This is why I mentioned the idea of a wiki and a knowledge base, because you can establish a base line of relevant local interests and track how it evolves and grows. I would return the question and say what outcomes would your community want to measure? Perhaps this forum can outline some relevant generalized outcomes.
More questions face community leaders when they consider establishing community outcome measures.
What community attributes or trends will be monitored?
How should the community ?
Performance be measured?
What data should be used ?
Community outcome measures may also help focus the attention of government agencies and community organizations on how to achieve the community’s most important goals and community outcome measures may be used to identify areas in which the community is not performing well, and in which reforms or additional efforts are needed.
Outcome measures tell us how the community is doing in achieving important goals, such as changes in its unemployment rate, high school graduation rate etc..