It is recognised that the information revolution is transforming the nature of economic development. There is general agreement that the rate of growth and frequency of application of information and communications technologies, are factors in determining a country's economic success. In order to participate in the global market, every nation needs information and communication services.
Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, together with Malaysia and Thailand have been among the fastest growing economies in the region, not least because of their information and communications infrastructure. Countries like China, India and Vietnam, are concentrating their efforts in incorporating information technology in their development plans, to expedite their growth process. Asia shares an acute awareness of the need to participate in the global information exchange.
The Pan Asia Networking program (PAN) is a pioneering program tapping into this milieu. The initial concept of PAN arose from the need to create synergy in the research and development work of the hundreds of institutions that the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is involved with, in countries across Asia. Response to an Asian survey carried out in the sixteen cities in the region strongly validated the thrust on computer and information networking. When connected, individuals in institutions in Asia will be able to share research work, development experience, access each other's information resources and hold regular conversations to cement their networking activities. PAN is for everyone, everywhere, interested in Asian development.
The International Development Research Centre brings many advantages to its PAN initiative, including partnerships and contacts formed over twenty years in the Asian region, with government and non- government bodies, universities, research institutions an d grassroots organisations. With its team of subject specialists and a core set of programming areas reflecting the research priorities of the region, it anchors the content of PAN. IDRC has a proven record of project conceptualisation, development and management in Asia.
As the nature of information and communication technology continues in a state of rapid evolution, so will the PAN program continue to evolve, as its implementation proceeds. The underlying concepts and methodologies of PAN's strategic framework will keep developing with the changing nature of the technology, as work on PAN progresses. The programming directions set in these early stages will therefore continue to reflect the changing realities observed in the field.
The Pan Asia Networking program (PAN) aims to promote collaboration in research and development through information access, use and exchange.
The PAN program promotes and supports the development of a communications system to serve communities in the region, in a manner that is consistent, functional and sustainable in the long term. The Asia Regional Office of International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is assuming a pivotal role in this networking program.
PAN contributes to the strengthening in some countries and creating in others, of affordable computer-based communications to benefit a range of clients, including individuals, non-government and government organisations and businesses. In areas where access is difficult to the subsidised facilities of academia and governments, PAN provides an alternative service for individuals and independent organisations.
1. Technical Establishment
PAN projects are being established with partner organisations in the region to provide local, national or sub-national networking services to their own client bases. Each local networking node comprises one or more node computers, with connections, enabling user access and wide-area network connectivity. The aim is to establish different layers of connectivity:
2. Content Subnetworking
Carrying content-based subnetworks is a significant feature of PAN, facilitating networking services for specific content areas. With these active subnetworks in place, parallel developments are being attracted to the networking program, including related project activities and client groups, to provide a synergy of purpose and function. The initial focus depending on demand, includes:
3. Information Services
Facilitating information gathering and exchange is a basic tenet of IDRC's policies, benefiting researchers and decision makers. By providing access to information on key policy issues, PAN is exposing decision makers and researchers to policy development and promoting on-going research in the area.
4. IT Research and Policy Development
PAN also aims to stimulate research and strengthen capacity in the use of information and communication technologies by the development community. Continuing research on information and communication technologies and policies, and issues relating to information access, use and management is of prime importance in the program.
In summary, the innovative features of the Pan Asia Networking program are: