Government Technology

Governments Worldwide Failing to Fully Benefit from Connectivity

February 25, 2008 By

Imagine flying in an airplane with the pilot using just about 50 percent of the aircraft's radar system. Not a comforting thought. And while perhaps not be quite as dangerous, nevertheless governments around the world are doing something quite similar -- not using the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure they have spent billions on, to its optimal extent.

That is what a groundbreaking new global ICT study called The Connectivity Scorecard, released last month, said after it ran a global research on how "usefully connected" countries are. It added that regardless of their economic status not only governments but businesses too are not making best use of their communications and computing infrastructure to derive the full economic and social benefits of ICT.

The Connectivity Scorecard, commissioned by Nokia Siemens Networks and produced by Leonard Waverman, a professor of economics at London Business School with the help of research conducted by economic consulting firm LECG, ranked countries on approximately 30 indicators of connectivity. These included broadband, fixed-line, mobile and computing technologies -- things that contribute to the enhancement of a country's social and economic prosperity. It also examined the contribution of connectivity to economic growth and positive social outcomes and used these to draw conclusions on how individual countries ranked on the Index.

According to the study, even the world's best connected countries are not exploiting communications technologies to their fullest potential and in many cases, policy and regulatory activities designed to promote connectivity are not having the impact intended.
United States, for instance, although ranking first in a group of 16 innovation driven economies [as defined by the World Economic Forum], only scores 6.97 out of a possible 10.0 . A 10.0 is what any developed country should score, says Leonard Waverman.

United States scored first in the study mainly because of the good performances on usage by businesses rather than government. On the other hand, Korea, which is considered to be one of the most highly connected countries in the world, only gets a rating of just 4.78 and ranks 10th on the list. Sweden and Japan are close behind the US, with Japan being rewarded for high use of mobility solutions by businesses in particular.

"The most startling revelation of the report is that the average score of the most developed economies is 5. A developed country, any developed country should get 10," says Waverman. "This means that the world at large is using just about half of the ICT infrastructure that is already in place."

The other interesting revelation of the report is that in the list of efficiency driven economies (again a term borrowed from the World Economic Forum), India, which is popularly known as the emerging tech-power, thanks primarily to its globally acclaimed IT industry, languishes right at the end of the second list that covers 9 countries. In that list Malaysia and Russia do well in the emerging segment as they have high literacy rates and usage scores, comparable in some cases to Innovation driven economies.

Considering the fact that governments around the world -- even in a poor country like Nigeria -- spend billions of dollars on creating ICT infrastructure, it is indeed striking that how low almost all governments score. Although a perfect score of 10 is a possibility, if and only if a country topped all of the components, says Waverman "the wide dispersion of scores and the failure of any country to score even 7 out of 10 shows that there is not one country that is uniformly strong on all dimensions of connectivity."

Connectivity of course, according to this study, is not just copper wires, fibre-optic cables, networked computers and mobile phones. Rather, according to the experts who have conducted the study, connectivity is a broader concept that embraces not only infrastructure and hardware, but also and extends to include assets and skills -- embodied in

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