With over two billion people with access to mobile devices coupled with a continuously growing mobile penetration rate, Asia-Pacific has become the biggest mobile data traffic hub in the world.
The Asian Development Bank wants to take advantage of this and on Sept. 25 launched a new mobile application to provide extensive data to engage the general public in development news and information from the region, putting development at the public’s fingertips.
“Smartphones and tablets have become very popular among all sectors of society,” Dalisay Maligalig, the bank’s principal statistician, told Devex. “With AsiaData on these devices, people can now easily access data on development issues that are of interest to them to make an in-depth study, compare situations of countries in the region and consequently, be more engaged with development issues.”
The world’s most populous region, despite the forward leaps in mobile technology, still includes many of the least developed nations, with health, education and poverty as the main challenges.
Transparency and coordination
Although the app itself is mainly for information and transparency purposes, Maligalig noted it can be an instrument for different members of the aid community to further the effectiveness of development programs through comprehensive data analysis.
“It is … an instrument for disseminating the development indicators that ADB derives from data items provided by statistical agencies of ADB’s regional members, that would have otherwise been included only in their respective websites and yearbooks,” she said.
The app can help to achieve better coordination and bridge the information gap on foreign aid.
“We would like to support the results-based management approach by providing easily accessible development indicators. [It makes] comparative analysis easy,” said the ADB statistician.
Shaping policies and discussions
The move also comes at a time when emerging and non-traditional donors, including private firms and philanthropists, are landing in the mainstream aid landscape. This will make their participation in development work much easier, according to Maligalig.
“They do not need to spend more time and resources to building their database to understand development issues,” she said.
A well-informed public can also shake things up by influencing policies and enriching development discussions, added Maligalig.
“It can be used in actively engaging the community in discussing prevailing social and economic issues. It can help in understanding and in finding solutions to development issues,” she noted. “The development community can use it to inform policies and to invigorate discussions.”
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