The Internet may help solve some of the problems that bog down sustainable development projects, a new study has found.

Problems such as poor communication, fragmented and uncoordinated research and a general lack of collaboration between groups that share similar goals can find solutions in Internet tools and other Internet communications technology, according to the research. These technologies also ease collaborative design, Ivana Zelenika, a doctoral candidate at the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability at University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and Joshua Pearce, an associate professor at Michigan Technological University and the director of the MTU Laboratory in Open Sustainability Technology, in Houghton, Michigan, USA, write in the journal Information Development, published online ahead of print Nov. 20th, 2012.

“Not only does innovation through collaboration present a whole new paradigm shift for development, but in addition it requires establishment of a platform and tools necessary to facilitate such an enterprise. Luckily, both of these challenges are being broken down thanks to the Internet and in large part also to the success of the open source software movement,” the researchers write.

For the study, two experts compared four organizations that provide online resources for development work. They include Practical Action, Kopernik, the Appropedia Foundation and us at Engineering for Change.

“Internet use, availability and language are still considerable barriers to participation, but the advantage of the methods for OSAT [open source and appropriate technologies] is the knowledge aggregation so those who seek it can find it when the opportunity presents itself – either through an organization or personally. The open collaborative advantage of OSAT would ensure the solutions are versatile, robust, tested, verified and available for access, copying and modification,” the researchers write.

Please see the study at the link.

The Internet and other ICTs as tools and catalysts for sustainable development: innovation for 21st century [abstract]

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