Presenting Research at Georgetown

I’m excited to be invited to present some of my work November 5 at Georgetown University’s Center for Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Studies – here’s some info, I think it’ll be a fun talk!


MCIT/NUS ICTs in Emergency Survey: Replication data

I spent the last two months managing a research collaboration between Samoa’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and the National University of Samoa, collecting nation wide data on how people use information and information technology to respond to natural disasters. This data will feed into my dissertation, as well as be useful to the Ministry and the National University, who will be using it for policy development and research. The research team wanted to make this data publicly available, since funding for the research came from MCIT and thus we see it as a public good. You can download the data here, and below is the suggested citation:

Martin-Shields, Charles, Ioana Chan Mow, Lealaolesau Fitu & Hobert Sasa. (2014) “ICTs and Information Use During Emergencies: Data from Samoa,” MCIT/NUS Data Project. Dataset available at:

The thrust of the research design was multifold. For MCIT, it’s important to know how people get their information, especially when trying to allocate spectrum or regulate communication providers. The research team from NUS does quite a bit of work with ICT4D and the social aspects of access to communication technology, so having data on use preferences from around the country is helpful in their research agenda. My own research looks at technologies as proxies for socio-political behavior, aiming to understand how social and political context affects the way that people use technology to manage collective action problems during crisis.

The dataset takes inspiration from the work I’ve done with Elizabeth Stones, whose dataset on Kenyan information use and trust inspired my thinking on doing a tailored replication in Samoa. We welcome feedback on the data, our structure, and hope that it can be useful to others working on ICT policy.

Laying over, all over

I’ll be headed to the ISA conference in Toronto tonight, and since I’m coming from the South Pacific the journey will be full of layovers long and short. If you are in:

Auckland, New Zealand! I will be there tomorrow all day and all day on April 1 wandering the streets and looking at things. I aways enjoy company when I wander streets and look at things, and my American phone number should be working (if you don’t have it and want to get in touch, email me or ping me on Facebook).

San Francisco, United States of America! I already have plans, but my U.S. phone will be working and I will happily chat with you.

See you in April Samoa!

Samoa Post: End of semester observations

So I’ve been in Samoa for a semester now, working with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and getting things in order to do dissertation fieldwork. I’ll probably post again before the end of the year, but here are a few key themes that have emerged in conversation as I’ve developed relationships with my counterparts.

Continue reading “Samoa Post: End of semester observations”

Samoa Update: What “Kickstarting an Emergency” got me thinking

Andrej Verity, who works at UN-OCHA, wrote a thought provoking and enjoyable post earlier this week about alternative crowdfunding and Kickstarter-type mechanisms for distributing aid funding to beneficiaries during disaster response.  I posted a few short thoughts in the comments section of the post, but thought it’d be good to expand on them a bit.  Hopefully these observations can add to the discussion Andrej started, since it’s an important one.

Continue reading “Samoa Update: What “Kickstarting an Emergency” got me thinking”

Samoa update: A little informed consent, a lot of economics

I’m embracing my status as a political scientist working in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MCIT).  While a lot of my experience in the tech space tends to be tool-centric, I’m finding more and more that the challenges on the user end (in this case Samoa) are related to policy and economics.

Continue reading “Samoa update: A little informed consent, a lot of economics”

Samoa Week One: There’s tech and there’s practicality

I’m wrapping up my first week on the job with the Samoan Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, where I’m working as part of my Fulbright-Clinton Fellowship.  I’m working in the Policy Formulation Office of the Ministry, and over the course of the year, I’ll be working on ICT for disaster response policy, cyber security, and helping finalize multilateral support for infrastructure projects.  As someone who has bounced around the ‘tech4good’ community in D.C. for a few years now, I’m really enjoying getting out into the field again.  To make the most of my field time, I’ll post bi-weekly ‘lessons learned’ updates, starting with this post.  Hopefully my observations from a Pacific island can be helpful to others working the tech and development spaces!

Continue reading “Samoa Week One: There’s tech and there’s practicality”

Arrived in Samoa

I’ve arrived in Samoa to start my Clinton-Fulbright Fellowship, working with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology on disaster management and response policy.  I’ll be blogging on the technical details of what I’m doing starting next week, but just wanted to post a few photos from my journey.

Flying over American Samoa
Flying over American Samoa
First view of Independent Samoa,
Temporary housing
Downtown Apia, the capital