“If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it” . . . . . Lord Kelvin
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  • HSI Component: Information empowerment

    Posted on November 2nd, 2009 editor0 No comments

    Are people connected and empowered through the diversity of traditional and modern means of information exchange? Do they have access to each other in person (freedom of association), by telephone, and the Internet? Do they have access to uncensored, unbiased and effective people-centric (rather than self-centric) information through printed, broadcast, and Internet sources?

    In some countries, the philosophy is for “freedom of speech” including freedom of association and religion. In other countries, it is for “freedom of expression” (both to espouse and receive views) including freedom to chose media sources (including Internet service provider, etc.). HumanSecurityIndex.org considers that both of these concepts are vital to people.

    People currently communicate in-person, or via (fixed and mobile) telephone, (postal or electronic) mail, and the Internet. The latter was formerly dominated by one-way communication from server to client, but now is two-way through blogs, wikis, discussion forums, virtual community and file sharing media on the Web. Access to such media, and the freedom of such media from propaganda, censorship, intentional or unintentional bias (which limits rather than stimulates perspective) are vital to a social fabric.

    The HSI component on Information Empowerment combines data on fixed and mobile telephone lines and Internet users (as a percentage of inhabitants – to indicate users of such media) with an indicator of press freedom. The main sources are:

    • Information and Communication indicators from the International Telecommunication Union’s ICT Eye supplemented by other sources to cover gaps in the ITU data – as described in the United Nations release publication on the HSI.
    • The Press Freedom Index of Reporters Sans Frontieres.

    An indicator which characterizes the amount of access by individuals and communities to information, which is empowering of the people rather than of an elite, is an important component of social fabric and human security. This might include an enumeration of the number of people accessing various types of communications/media (not just phones and the Internet as in the case of the Connection Index).

    In addition, there is the concern that consolidations (and budgetary reductions) of several traditional news media outlets into giant holding companies, arguably more driven by profit motive than by journalistic excellence, is reducing journalistic effectiveness, and thus human security. So, an indicator of Press Effectiveness (including freedom of journalists from official harassment but also freedom and effectiveness of journalists at delivering investigative journalism to empower readers) would be valuable to have.