The Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have just announced a new partnership to advance the creation of appropriate digital solutions to achieve the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Over the next year, DIAL, ITU and others will work to convene the public sector, private industry and development organizations across sectors to collaborate on co-design initiatives, promote industry dialogue, and execute high-level events and innovation challenges to drive information and communication technology (ICT) innovation.
Despite the rapid expansion of telecommunications and mobile technologies, the digital revolution has not yet reached all populations, limiting the availability of socially beneficial digital services. One barrier to expanding the benefits of technology is that many tools and platforms created for high-resource environments are not fully designed to function with the constraints of low-resource environments.
Technologies can prove to be expensive or less suited where unreliable electricity, intermittent connectivity and limited expertise present everyday challenges.
“I look forward to the day when women, men and children in every community benefit from the life-enhancing benefits a digitally inclusive society provides,” said Kate Wilson, CEO, Digital Impact Alliance. “DIAL’s partnership with ITU reinforces our commitment to work across the public and private sectors to ensure that ICT innovations are utilized in a way that promotes achievement of the sustainable development goals.”
“As we embark on the implementation of the SDGs, both private and public sectors need to join forces in the ICT ecosystem to achieve socio-economic development,” said Brahima Sanou, Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) at ITU. “The partnership between ITU and DIAL will help us identify innovation opportunities and drive ICT innovation for the benefit of all.”
To realize a set of ICT innovations that are appropriate, affordable, scalable and specifically designed for the SDGs, ITU and DIAL will:
1) Convene cross-sectoral experts from the UN, the public sector and the private sector to identify opportunities for ICTs to advance the SDGs;
2) Identify gaps and limitations in current technology platforms needed to achieve the SDGs; and,
3) Work with the private and public sector organizations to promote to adaptation of existing technologies, and where necessary creation of new appropriate ones, to fill high-priority gaps.
“Collaboration with ICT experts, development program implementers and those in the private sector is key to identifying high-potential opportunities for technology platforms that can advance the SDGs,” said Jeff Wishnie, Senior Director, Platforms and Services, Digital Impact Alliance. “An analysis that maps existing technologies to opportunities, and identifies gaps where adapted and new technologies are required will be the first step in this effort.”
Work kicks off March 9-10 in Geneva when DIAL, ITU and ITU-WHO’s mHealth initiative “Be Healthy, Be Mobile” convene stakeholders across UN organizations, academia, private industry and the NGO/development sector to collaborate on the first phase of work to create and validate a use case/scenario template and a gap analysis methodology that utilizes a human-centered design approach.