The Internet and other ICTs as tools and catalysts for sustainable development: Innovation for 21st century

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Among the many issues facing sustainable technological development, dispersed and un-coordinated research, as well as poor communication and collaboration of technological knowledge to those that need it, play a major role in many failed and delayed projects. However, the Internet and its multifaceted platforms provide a potential solution to these problems. This paper examines the ways in which the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) can improve critical shortcomings to sustainable development efforts. Specifically, the strategies of open source appropriate technology (OSAT) and innovation through collaboration are reviewed. The methods are examined by which OSAT is i) accelerating innovation by building and sharing knowledge, ii) improving collaboration and iii) increasing both the efficiency and effectiveness of many programs and projects. Four OSAT case studies are presented for organizations at the forefront of open collaborative technologies for sustainable development: i) Practical Action, ii) Kopernik, iii) Engineering for Change, and iv) The Appropedia Foundation. The key features, models and the approaches employed by these organizations are discussed and conclusions are drawn from these case studies to contribute insight and better guide the development of this new innovation strategy. © The Author(s) 2012.

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Information Development