TASCHA to examine the impact of public access technology around the world

TASCHA is proud to announce the launch of the Global Impact Study of Public Access to Information & Communication Technologies — a five-year project (2007-2012) to generate evidence about the scale, character, and impacts of public access to information and communication technologies. Looking at libraries, telecenters, and cybercafes, the study will investigate impact in a number of areas, including communication and leisure, culture and language, education, employment and income, governance, and health.

The Global Impact Study is part of Investigating the Social & Economic Impact of Public Access to Information & Communication Technologies — a broader CAD$7.9 million research project supported by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and a grant to IDRC from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Managed by IDRC, the project includes the Global Impact Study of Public Access to Information & Communication Technologies and The Amy Mahan Research Fellowship Program, led by Universitat Pompeu Fabra, which aims to deepen the capacity of emerging scholars with the goal of increasing the quality and quantity of research on public access to ICT produced in developing countries.

Why this research? Why now?

Over the last decade, governments, international development agencies, foundations, and corporations have made significant investments to increase public access to ICT, particularly in developing countries. As these investments continue to grow, questions are being raised about their social and economic impact, particularly:

  • What are the social, economic, and political impacts of public access to ICT?
  • What is the magnitude of these impacts and how can we measure them?
  • What is the relationship between costs and benefits of providing and using public access to ICT?

The Global Impact Study will investigate these questions using longitudinal and comparative research approaches. Researchers will examine both the positive and negative impacts of a range of shared, public access models, such as the provision of ICT in libraries and telecentres, as well as other models and innovations that emerge over the life of the project.

Two phases

The Global Impact Study began in October 2007 and will last five years, until 2012. The first phase (to December 2008) will focus on secondary data research and three country-level field studies (Chile, Bangladesh, Lithuania) to pilot research methods and frameworks. In the second phase researchers will examine evidence of impact from a series of longitudinal and comparative field studies in a number of countries.

Tapping research networks

Project researchers come from existing and new research networks, as well as from teams convened at both the global and regional/country level where field research is carried out. Part of the mandate of this project is to connect people and build a community of researchers working around these issues.

Improved capacity, better research methods, and a common framework

Throughout its five-year span, the Global Impact Study will build research capacity in developing and emerging economies. It will also improve methodological approaches and create a common framework and vocabulary for further research.

Better programs and policies

The Global Impact Study is important because it will generate evidence to support policy and investment decisions and provide insights into how to develop better initiatives.