Information Access and Flow

Information Access:

Opportunities / avenues available to individuals to seek information from different sources. For instance from other individuals, institutions, and public domains and databases.

Information Flow:

The supply / availability of information within a society. Information flows may be 'restricted' in some societies and 'open' in others.

Impact of ICT on Information Access and Flow

The penetration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is constantly changing the way people interact with other individuals and institutions, and the information they acquire from them.

Impact of ICT on Information Access

The changes in "Information Access" can be analyzed along 3 dimensions:

  • Sources of information
  • Intensity of interactions, and
  • Information types

Table: ICT and Information Access

 

Information Access Dimensions

Description

Trends after penetration of ICT

Examples

Sources of Information

Sources from where information can be  acquired. It may include people, institutions, publications, public databases and domains

Increase in the number of sources from where people can access information

Agriculture extensionists can get in touch with other extensionists/distant experts through phone call or emails

People in remote villages can stay informed of political developments in Central/ State governments through radio and television broadcasts

People with Internet access can obtain / verrify information from sources other than the government channels

Intensity of Interactions

Frequency of information exchanges between an individuals and information sources

Increase in intensity of communication due to ease in communication and decrease in communication costs

Large farmers can phone-in to check updated prices of products in different markets

Researchers can repeatedly search remote libraries and databases through the Internet

NGOs can email their appeals to multiple users at no additional cost

Information Types

Different types of information that are getting acquired

Increase in the range of information (text, graphics, audio) which can be communicated and acquired

Health workers / Veterinary doctors can acquire images of diseases and their symptoms through fax and email attachments

Farmers can print copies of their detailed land map

Policymakers at state level can confer with officials at the district level through video-conferencing

 

Impact of ICT on Information Flow

The changes in "Information Flow" can be analyzed along 2 dimensions:

  • Information production
  • Information broadcast

Table: ICT and Information Flow

 

Information Flow Dimensions

Description

Trends after penetration of ICT

Examples

Information Production

New information that becomes available in the public domain

Increase in information production. New ICT tools allows users to generate information easily and  cheaply.

Governments can create websites with updated government information in different languages

Local groups / NGOs can easily create content in digital format and use  mass e-mailing lists to make known their positions on different issues

Information Broadcast

Possibility to make same information available to anyone, anywhere

Increased possibility to disseminate  information globally or over large public domains

Farmer groups can use community radios to air their grievances to a wider audience

Governments can broadcast key policy changes nationally over television

Individuals / NGOs can create websites which broadcasts a view or findings divergent from those of the government

Pesticide companies can display information about their products on websites which can be acessed by agricultural extensionists globally

 

Let us now try to merge the impact of ICT on Information Access and Information Flow and see how it gets reflected in the society.

The diagram below represents the impact of ICT on Information Access and Flow:

ICT has paved way for more number of inter-linkages, increase in intensity of interactions, and greater opportunity to broadcast content to distant and large public domains.

Information Access and Flows and the Governance Sphere: something is missing

Enhancing information access and flow have a significant impact on the governance processes- through catalysing the formation of knowledge societies. The inhabitants of these knowledge societies- the "Knowledge Networkers" - are more aware of events and conditions in local and global domains and can use this knowledge pro-actively and strategically for their benefit. This may include-- impacting the governance processes to make them more accountable and responsive to their constituencies or stakeholders. In absence of, or weak information access and flows, impacting governance processes is a much difficult task. Information may simply be unavailable, or sources to verify existing information may be non-existent, or it may be impossible to communicate views to build consensus for concerted action.

The various DigitalGovernance Models: Broadcasting Model, Critical Flow Model,  Comparative Analysis Model, E-Advocacy Model and Interactive- Service Model described earlier are pivoted on enhancing "Information Access and Flow" to reflect the "Post-ICT Society" as one of the pillars /design parameters.

In many developing countries, Government, NGOs and UN organizations have started to invest in ICT for Development projects. Indisputably, a common design parameter for all these projects is-- enhancing information access and flows within the society. While this is an important parameter, it gets embedded into project designs- almost automatically, without any special planning. As is evident from the Tables above on the impact of ICT on Information Access and Information Flow Dimensions, use of ICT automatically leads to increase in information access and flows.

But if the benefits of ICT for Development projects are to provide benefits to the disadvantaged communities and difficult to reach communities, then there is something critical missing in the project designs. And the missing element is the "Geometry of Infomation Flows."

 

 


Information Access:

Opportunities / avenues available to individuals to seek information from different sources. For instance from other individuals, institutions, and public domains and databases.

Information Flow:

The supply / availability of information within a society. Information flows may be 'restricted' in some societies and 'open' in others.

 

Impact of ICT on Information Access and Flow

The penetration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is constantly changing the way people interact with other individuals and institutions, and the information they acquire from them.

Impact of ICT on Information Access

The changes in "Information Access" can be analyzed along 3 dimensions:

  • Sources of information

  • Intensity of interactions, and

  • Information types

 

Table: ICT and Information Access

 

Information Access Dimensions

Description

Trends after penetration of ICT

Examples

Sources of Information

Sources from where information can be  acquired. It may include people, institutions, publications, public databases and domains

Increase in the number of sources from where people can access information

Agriculture extensionists can get in touch with other extensionists/distant experts through phone call or emails

 

People in remote villages can stay informed of political developments in Central/ State governments through radio and television broadcasts

 

People with Internet access can obtain / verrify information from sources other than the government channels

Intensity of Interactions

Frequency of infomation exchanges between an individuals and information sources

Increase in intensity of communication due to ease in communication and decrease in communication costs

Large farmers can phone-in to check updated prices of products in different markets

 

Researchers can repeatedly search remote libraries and databases through the Internet

 

NGOs can email their appeals to multiple users at no additional cost

Information Types


Different types of information that are getting acquired

Increase in the range of information (text, graphics, audio) which can be communicated and acquired

Health workers / Veterinary doctors can acquire images of diseases and their symptoms through fax and email attachments

 

Farmers can print copies of their detailed land map

 

Policymakers at state level can confer with officials at the district level through video-conferencing

Impact of ICT on Information Flow

The changes in "Information Flow" can be analyzed along 2 dimensions:

  • Information production

  • Information broadcast

 

Table: ICT and Information Flow

 

Information Flow Dimensions

Description

Trends after penetration of ICT

Examples

Information Production

New information that becomes available in the public domain

Increase in information production. New ICT tools allows users to generate information easily and  cheaply.

Governments can create websites with updated government information in different languages

Local groups / NGOs can easily create content in digital format and use  mass e-mailing lists to make known their positions on different issues

Information Broadcast

Possibility to make same information available to anyone, anywhere

Increased possibility to disseminate  information globally or over large public domains

Farmer groups can use community radios to air their grievances to a wider audience

Governments can broadcast key policy changes nationally over television

Individuals / NGOs can create websites which broadcasts a view or findings divergent from those of the government

Pesticide companies can display information about their products on websites which can be acessed by agricultural extensionists globally

 

Let us now try to merge the impact of ICT on Information Access and Information Flow and see how it gets reflected in the society.

 

 

 

The diagram below represents the impact of ICT on Information Access and Flow:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ICT has paved way for more number of inter-linkages, increase in intensity of interactions, and greater opportunity to broadcast content to distant and large public domains.

Information Access and Flows and the Governance Sphere: something is missing

Enhancing information access and flow have a significant impact on the governance processes- through catalysing the formation of knowledge societies. The inhabitants of these knowledge societies- the "Knowledge Networkers" - are more aware of events and conditions in local and global domains and can use this knowledge pro-actively and strategically for their benefit. This may include-- impacting the governance processes to make them more accountable and responsive to their constituencies or stakeholders. In absence of, or weak information access and flows, impacting governance processes is a much difficult task. Information may simply be unavailable, or sources to verify existing information may be non-existent, or it may be impossible to communicate views to build consensus for concerted action.

The various DigitalGovernance Models: Broadcasting Model, Critical Flow Model,  Comparative Analysis Model, E-Advocacy Model and Interactive- Service Model described earlier are pivoted on enhancing "Information Access and Flow" to reflect the "Post-ICT Society" as one of the pillars /design parameters.

In many developing countries, Government, NGOs and UN organizations have started to invest in ICT for Development projects. Indisputably, a common design parameter for all these projects is-- enhancing information access and flows within the society. While this is an important parameter, it gets embedded into project designs- almost automatically, without any special planning. As is evident from the Tables above on the impact of ICT on Information Access and Information Flow Dimensions, use of ICT automatically leads to increase in information access and flows.

But if the benefits of ICT for Development projects are to provide benefits to the disadvantaged communities and difficult to reach communities, then there is something critical missing in the project designs. And the missing element is the "Geometry of Infomation Flows."