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Cardno’s Digital Solutions: Transforming Technologies and Achieving Impact

Local adoption is a key driver of success in international development. It is a measurement through which an intervention can pass or fail: Are program beneficiaries actually using the tools development practitioners have introduced?

At Cardno, we establish local partnerships to produce demand-driven digital solutions, focusing on people and not products. Our teams have been employing digital solutions to improve lives and empower local communities for more than two decades.

Critical to this success, we know that all digital solutions must adapt to the social, cultural, technological and economic challenges of the implementing context. Solutions can be as simple as SMS communications. They can harness data to progress knowledge and inform policy makers’ decisions. In some cases they require teams to develop a comprehensive, tailor-made solution for government IT infrastructure and policies.

Cardno International Development has been employing digital and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) solutions in the developing world since the internet’s nascent years. As mobile applications grew and became available to more diverse and dispersed populations, so too did our digital footprint. Using primarily internet and mobile technology, Cardno has supported the promotion of global connectivity and enabled access to information for some of the world’s most disadvantaged populations.

In 2006, when less than 14 percent of the population had internet access, Cardno helped expand Egypt’s tourism and ICT industries through promoting the tourist use of wireless internet networks in Cairo, Luxor and Naama Bay (Sharm el Sheikh). New networks from the USAID-funded project While in Egypt Stay Connected meant that tourists visiting Egypt's most popular destinations have been be able to chat, send photos and video, blog, and stay on top of work while away on holiday.

The project tapped into Egypt's growing ICT sector and the government's progressive decision to promote internet access to its citizens. Cardno provided a roadmap for implementing a Master ICT and Tourism Connectivity Plan which boosted Egypt’s reputation as a technologically-savvy connected country in regional and global markets. While initially focussed on one niche sector, the project was able to link various public and private sector stakeholders, encourage business innovation and promote greater connectivity between citizens.

Over the past decade, Cardno has continued to provide technical advice and policy support for improving government-owned ICT architecture, and creating roadmaps and master plans for sustainable and integrated technology works – from public finance management to mapping road networks. Today, Cardno’s Governance for Development (GfD) project team advises Timor-Leste’s ICT Agency on digital infrastructure, strategy and e-governance. The team recently supported Tecnologia da Informação e Comunicação (TIC) – the government agency responsible for ICT governance – to develop and launch Timor-Leste’s COVID-19 dashboard. Using maps, tables and figures, the platform provides real-time COVID-19 reporting data, including Timor-Leste’s response to prevent and mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.

Digital solutions promote resilience and flexibility, as well as modernisation. Cardno is supporting the Serbian Government on the USAID Cooperation for Growth (CfG) project, through digital solutions in the financial sector. The project strengthens government institutions to expand sales and channels for small and medium enterprises through the e-commerce sector. This includes developing an action plan to improve and streamline regulations and administrative procedures. The project also works with enterprises to expand their understanding and approach to e-commerce, online payments and cashless transactions.

Big data yields big impact

Utilising data to inform evidence-based policies, Cardno’s MAHKOTA team supports the Government of Indonesia on social protection policies and regulations. The project utilised Indonesia’s unified poverty database – which captures demographic information for 26.6 million households – to inform government social protection programs, such as reforms in energy subsidies to more effectively reach poor and vulnerable populations. These energy reforms resulted in the government saving AU$1.6 billion in 2017, which could be redirected to fund other economic and social development programs.

The body of evidence created, and subsequent policy reform resulted in MAHKOTA winning DFAT’s Award for Best Significant Policy in 2017.