Building and Sustaining Democratic and Accountable Governance Institutions using ICT



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Information Access and Flow (new!)


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Information Access and

Information Flow



Information Access:

Opportunities / avenues available to individuals to seek information from different sources. For instance from other individuals, institutions, and public domains and databases.


Information Flow:

The supply / availability of information within a society. Information flows may be 'restricted' in some societies and 'open' in others. 



Impact of ICT on Information Access and Flow


The penetration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is constantly changing the way people interact with other individuals and institutions, and the information they acquire from them.


Impact of ICT on Information Access


The changes in "Information Access" can be analyzed along 3 dimensions:

  • Sources of information

  • Intensity of interactions, and

  • Information types

Table: ICT and Information Access

Information Access Dimensions Description Trends after penetration of ICT Examples

Sources of Information


Sources from where information can be  acquired. It may include people, institutions, publications, public databases and domains

Increase in the number of sources from where people can access information

Agriculture extensionists can get in touch with other extensionists/distant experts through phone call or emails

People in remote villages can stay informed of political developments in Central/ State governments through radio and television broadcasts

People with Internet access can obtain / verrify information from sources other than the government channels

Intensity of Interactions Frequency of infomation exchanges between an individuals and information sources

Increase in intensity of communication due to ease in communication and decrease in communication costs

Large farmers can phone-in to check updated prices of products in different markets

Researchers can repeatedly search remote libraries and databases through the Internet

NGOs can email their appeals to multiple users at no additional cost

Information Types
Different types of information that are getting acquired


Increase in the range of information (text, graphics, audio) which can be communicated and acquired

Health workers / Veterinary doctors can acquire images of diseases and their symptoms through fax and email attachments

Farmers can print copies of their detailed land map

Policymakers at state level can confer with officials at the district level through video-conferencing



Impact of ICT on Information Flow


The changes in "Information Flow" can be analyzed along 2 dimensions:

  • Information production

  • Information broadcast

Table: ICT and Information Flow

Information Flow Dimensions Description Trends after penetration of ICT Examples
Information Production New information that becomes available in the public domain  

Increase in information production. New ICT tools allows users to generate information easily and  cheaply.

Governments can create websites with updated government information in different languages

Local groups / NGOs can easily create content in digital format and use  mass e-mailing lists to make known their positions on different issues

Information Broadcast

Possibility to make same information available to anyone, anywhere  Increased possibility to disseminate  information globally or over large public domains Farmer groups can use community radios to air their grievances to a wider audience

Governments can broadcast key policy changes nationally over television

Individuals / NGOs can create websites which broadcasts a view or findings divergent from those of the government

Pesticide companies can display information about their products on websites which can be acessed by agricultural extensionists globally


Let us now try to merge the impact of ICT on Information Access and Information Flow and see how it gets reflected in the society.


The diagram below represents the impact of ICT on Information Access and Flow:























ICT has paved way for more number of inter-linkages, increase in intensity of interactions, and greater opportunity to broadcast content to distant and large public domains.



Information Access and Flows and the Governance Sphere: something is missing


Enhancing information access and flow have a significant impact on the governance processes- through catalysing the formation of knowledge societies. The inhabitants of these knowledge societies- the "Knowledge Networkers" - are more aware of events and conditions in local and global domains and can use this knowledge pro-actively and strategically for their benefit. This may include-- impacting the governance processes to make them more accountable and responsive to their constituencies or stakeholders. In absence of, or weak information access and flows, impacting governance processes is a much difficult task. Information may simply be unavailable, or sources to verify existing information may be non-existent, or it may be impossible to communicate views to build consensus for concerted action.


The various DigitalGovernance Models: Broadcasting Model, Critical Flow Model Comparative Analysis Model, E-Advocacy Model and Interactive- Service Model described earlier are pivoted on enhancing "Information Access and Flow" to reflect the "Post-ICT Society" as one of the pillars /design parameters.


In many developing countries, Government, NGOs and UN organizations have started to invest in ICT for Development projects. Indisputably, a common design parameter for all these projects is-- enhancing information access and flows within the society. While this is an important parameter, it gets embedded into project designs- almost automatically, without any special planning. As is evident from the Tables above on the impact of ICT on Information Access and Information Flow Dimensions, use of ICT automatically leads to increase in information access and flows.


But if the benefits of ICT for Development projects are to provide benefits to the disadvantaged communities and difficult to reach communities, then there is something critical missing in the project designs. And the missing element is the "Geometry of Infomation Flows."



go to Geometry of Information Flows Initiative is conceived and managed by:


Vikas Nath

Inlaks Fellow (2000-1), London School of Economics, UK

Founder, Initiative


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