Information and Communication Technologies for Development
CRS is a leading organizer and partner in a cross sector and organizational conference that brings together almost 1000 technology professionals to leverage lessons learned in technology implementation. CRS started this effort in 2009 and it has since over doubled in size and organizational collaboration since.
Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D) is the practice of utilizing technology to assist poor and marginalized people in developing communities.
CRS is a leader in the new era of extracting insights from information for program innovation, learning and adaptive management. CRS applies technology at scale to increase our reach and effectiveness with evidence that we are improving the lives of people we serve.
ICT4D in Practice
Each year, CRS challenges its staff to identify opportunities to improve program efficacy, and awards funding to the most promising initiatives through small innovation grants.
In 2015, a program to fight malnutrition and reduce childhood stunting in Madagascar struggled to provide community members with food rations consistently. Our hypothesis was that the food distribution sites were too difficult to reach. Having already used mobile devices to register household locations, the team used spatial analysis to develop a model of walk times from villages to potential distribution sites based on topography.
Using these models, new sites were selected that saw consistent attendance increase by 27%, and walk times cut in half. Community members now have more reliable access to food to reduce childhood stunting.
Our ICT4D Approach
Data for evidence-based decision making
As the role of technology continues to expand around the globe, we have greater opportunities to capture data from the field and shape it into timely, accurate and multi-dimensional information. This includes the use of tools, such as for analytics and data visualization, that simplify complex data into practical information to support planning, coordination and decision making. Our advancement in evidence-based decision making will be enabled by deep skills in responsible data management, data science, and a culture of data use.
Implementation at Scale
At CRS, we use ICT4D for data collection broadly and in projects serving large populations—it is simply part of how we do our work. We partner with technology vendors to adapt services to meet our needs so that we can continue working at scale in the most challenging operating environments. This includes selecting core data collection and reporting tools to focus on scalability and usability through templates and turnkey solutions, which make data and technology more accessible for CRS and partner staff.
Enabling Partners and Programs
By working with technology providers to curate a portfolio of tools tailored to sector-specific needs we can increase the reach and value of services in our core program areas of emergency response & recovery, agricultural livelihoods and health. We will enable our partners to understand the lifecycle of digital tools and define sustainability plans for use after a project ends.
Program Examples of How Technology Improves Our Work