Enacting Openness in ICT4D Research

Melissa Loudon, Ulrike Rivett


(Smith & Elder, 2010), interpreted here as an active process of engagement, knowledge sharing, and co-creation, might guide ICT4D research. Our analysis is directed at both the project and institutional levels, focusing particularly on universities in the Global South. The case of iDART, a pharmacy system for antiretroviral drug dispensing in remote and underresourced public health clinics in South Africa, is interrogated as an example of an open approach. As of early 2010, iDART managed antiretroviral drug dispensing for approximately 150,000 patients in South Africa, and the research group that initially developed it had spun out into a separate nonprofit. In iDART and related projects, we have tried to enact a shift toward openness in both the technologies we work with and the system development process. We have also engaged with the research process itself, trying to establish a developmental understanding of our work as ICT4D researchers, as well as with the university as an institutional structure. The results demonstrate barriers on both practical and institutional levels, but also encouraging successes. The success of iDART as a model for knowledge production is well framed by an open approach to ICT4D research.


ICT4D; information systems; social responsiveness; openness; participatory design and development; action research; HIV/AIDS; South Africa

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