Centre for Digital Development

The Centre for Digital Development (formerly the Centre for Development Informatics) is a multidisciplinary centre researching the role of digital information and communication technologies (ICTs) and digital data in global development.

The aim of the Centre for Digital Development is to create just and sustainable digital futures for development.  We value action- and policy-/practice-oriented research focusing on the key development challenges; particularly global inequality, global poverty and climate change.

Defining digital development

“Digital development” is a field of both research and practice focusing on the application of digital systems in global development.

The ‘digital systems’ terminology indicates the holistic approach that CDD takes, encompassing four interlinked levels:

  • Data, information and knowledge
  • Information and communication technologies (ICTs)
  • Processes of learning, decision-making, communication and action
  • Wider human, organisational and national context

CDD’s work on digital development has a number of features including:

  • Multi-disciplinarity and inter-disciplinarity: particularly uniting computer/data science, information systems (including internet and platform studies), and development studies.
  • Development focus: ultimately, what matters is the contribution of digital systems to global development.
  • Lifecycle coverage: digital development studies all five stages of the digital systems lifecycle – development, implementation, adoption, use and impact; as well as overarching issues of strategy and policy.

Scope of digital development

Adapting a categorisation by Tony Roberts, digital development refers to the presence and implications of an increasingly digitalised, datafied context for the processes and structures of global development. It encompasses two sub-sets:

  • Digital for Development: “the conscious design and application of digital tools explicitly for development outcomes and impact”.
  • Digital in Development: “the use of digital technologies in the routine (in-house) work of development institutions and actors”.

Digital development is therefore intended to indicate a broader approach than that taken by the more techno-centric definitions of either Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D), which focuses on the use of ICTs for delivery of specific development goals, or Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD), which looks at the use of ICTs in developing countries.