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Centre for Development Informatics

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About

The Centre for Development Informatics (CDI) is a multidisciplinary centre researching the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in socio-economic development.

What is Development Informatics?

Definition

Development informatics is a field of both research and practice focusing on the application of information systems in socio-economic development.

The 'informatics' terminology is intended to be a translation of the French 'informatique'.  It indicates a broad and systemic view that encompasses four interlinked levels:

  • Data, information and knowledge
  • Information and communication technologies
  • Processes of learning, decision-making and communication
  • Wider human, organisational and national context

ICT for development

The terminology is therefore intended to indicate a broader approach than that taken by the more techno-centric definitions of either Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D), which focuses on use of ICTs for delivery of specific development goals, or Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD), which looks at use of ICTs in developing countries.

Quoting Groth & MacKie-Mason in the Feb 2010 issue of Communications of the ACM, "Informatics, in general, studies the intersection of people, information, and technology systems.  It … is fundamentally an interdisciplinary approach to domain problems".  This helps to highlight other aspects of CDI's work on development informatics:

  • Research on development informatics within CDI is multi-disciplinary; it is sometimes inter-disciplinary – particularly uniting information systems and development studies disciplines
  • The important part is the "domain problem"; ultimately what matters is whether or not information systems contribute to development
  • Development informatics sits alongside similar sub-fields focusing on different domains, such as community informatics, health informatics and legal informatics
  • Development informatics studies all five stages of the informatics lifecycle: development, implementation, adoption, use and impact; as well as overarching issues of strategy and policy