Re: [GKD-DOTCOM] Improving Access Via Mobile Telephony

2003-11-21 Thread Al Hammond
I think William Lester and Fola Odufuwa are pointing out something
important--the potential of cellular networks to provide data
connectivity inexpensively, if imperfectly. As converged devices
proliferate and newer network technologies spread to developing
countries, these problems will ease--and in the meantime, the installed
user base is more than twice that of the Internet and growing more
rapidly. Phones already have the potential to provide secure ID
(combining voice and face recognition at the server level), and can
serve as powerful transaction platforms (see the current
micro-entrepreneur reseller activity with Smart Buddy in the
Phillipines.) Whether WiFi-like or cellular solutions are most feasible
may depend as much on the regulatory environment (what's legal) and on
the openness to innovation in cellular providers.

Allen L. Hammond
Vice President for Innovation  Special Projects
World Resources Institute
10 G Street NE
Washington, DC 20002  USA
V (202) 729- 
F (202) 729-7775

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Re: [GKD-DOTCOM] What's on the Horizon?

2003-11-21 Thread Guido Sohne
It's hard to predict or foresee technology. Mainly, it becomes an
exercise in wishful thinking. So here are my wishes ...

On Mon, 2003-11-17 at 20:28, Global Knowledge Dev. Moderator wrote:

 1. What new high impact technologies are on the 3-year horizon? Who
 (exactly) needs to do what (concretely) to make those technologies
 widely available?

Hardware: Cheap handhelds (approx $100) that are Wi-Fi (or GSM 3G)
capable. Either as a telephone or a handheld tablet. Processing power
won't matter too much, battery life will be more important. Linux is an
ideal choice for these devices. No keyboard.

- Manufacturers of hardware should standardize on a common, modular
platform. The size of a common global market for baseline computing and
communication should be well worth it and result in truly low cost
computing. Such a system could be modular and enable manufacturers to
place their own high value components, e.g. CPU in place of standard

- Manufacturers should specifically target a low cost, mass market
device that can suit the needs of the less developed (and poorer)

- Bandwidth industry needs to make sure that Wi-Fi succeeds. The
network, the computing device and the person attached have a value much
greater than the sum of its parts.

Software: Social software - helps people keep organized and use
computers based more on their interpersonal relationships than on their
file structures. Networking moves from linking computers and programs to
linking humans and their data.

- Software developers need to create applications focussed on ease of
use and the end user experience. They need to work on software that does
groupware but breaks out of the business information mentality. It's not
about the documents, it about the people, so to speak. Right now, that's
the address book and obviously, there's a lot of room for improvement,
mostly in the need for new ideas.

- User interfaces should be keyed to voice and video. Crucial in getting
it to the largest number of people.

It's all happening already and three years will definitely see lots of
new and exciting technology. Change is about the only thing that is

 2. What's the most valuable area for technology development? Voice
 recognition? Cheap broadband delivery? Cheap hand-helds (under $50)?

Cheap broadband delivery and cheap handhelds. Entirely new types of mass
market applications are possible with this. The combination of mobility,
low cost and connectivity makes it possible to extend information
services to previously unreachable areas.

Software designed not to assume a literate user is using the device.
Obviously, this changes a lot of common assumptions.

Error messages? How many spoken languages are there? Voice synthesis
and recognition research is going to be important. There's probably a
lot of research on that already, someone just needs to put it all
together and make that into a cross-platform software library that other
projects can easily reuse.

 3. Where should we focus our efforts during the coming 3 years? On ICT
 policy? Creating ICT projects with revenue-generation models that are
 quickly self-supporting? Demonstrating the value of ICT to developing
 country communities?

3 x Yes.

 4. What levels of access should we be able to achieve by 2007 in each of
 the major under-served regions? Who (exactly) must do what (concretely)
 to attain them?

The level of internet access must increase by an order of magnitude in
each of the major under-served regions. Could be foreign direct
investment - trade. If one underserved region has 1 in 1 users,
target 1 in 1000 users by 2007. Numbers like this can be adjusted for
population density.

The aim is to grow the global market as much as possible. Investing
industries already have such a huge lead over the developing countries
that it poses no real threat to them but instead offers a means to
increase in size.

- Suitably high targets have to be set, otherwise its easier to just do
business as usual than to take a good look at it and fix it properly.

- The G7 should muster the collective will to pull this off. Political
will to use their collective financial and technological lead to pay
serious attention to human development in a profitable manner.

- People all over the world have to be educated to understand that it is
in everyone's best interest to make the world a more equitable and
peaceful place. Political will of world government leaders to push this
message for a sea change required.

Sharing the workload globally will make it much easier and what better
monument to build in this new century than one demonstrating civilized,
peaceful behaviour - a world that is simply a better place for everybody
in it.

 5. What funding models should we develop over the next 3 years? Projects
 with business plans that provide self-sustainability? Support from
 multilateral corporations? Venture capital funds for ICT and

Funds get to almost all but