The taxonomy is composed of two distinct parts: a global taxonomy and a local taxonomy. The global taxonomy is composed of a set of five fields that cannot be adjusted. These five categories were chosen after discussion among project members, taking into account the suggestions of local data collection teams of categories they considered useful for describing public access ICT venues in their countries. To maintain the goal of collecting data uniformly across countries, those suggestions were weighed against researchers’ ability to collect data for those categories in other countries. The resulting global taxonomy fields are shown below.
Global taxonomy of public access venues
|2. Business mode|
|3. Internet access fee|
|3.3 Not applicable (for venues with no internet access)|
|4. Venue type|
|4.3 Stand-alone facility (i.e., telecenters and cybercafés)|
|4.4 Other public access location|
|4.4.1 Government building|
|4.4.2 Post office|
|4.4.3 Religious institution|
Country research teams, processes, and iterations
The design and development of the inventory, data collection tools, and databases involved the following overlapping stages:
- Identification of relevant data and inventory components.
- Development of taxonomy, complete with a hierarchical structure for categories that could be used to describe different types of venues, and definitions.
- Preparation of data collection instruments and guidelines. This involved the creation of instructions for data collection, the inventory database template, and the data dictionary.
- Feedback from local research teams. Spread out over several months, this stage involved using a wiki as well as in-person discussions to gather feedback from the data collection teams on the feasibility and usefulness of the proposed inventory and taxonomy in each of their countries.
- Revision of inventory components, instrument, and guidelines. There were several iterations of the inventory and taxonomy that took into account feedback and suggestions from the data collection teams and other researchers on the project team.
- Development of an online database to store inventory data. To ensure data were collected and submitted in a consistent format, this process began in tandem with the development of the taxonomy.
- Testing and finalization of the data collection instrument. This stage incorporated lessons from the inventory testing stage to create the final inventory and data collection tool.
- Data dissemination, through a dedicated site of the Global Impact Study.
Even more flexibility was afforded to the country research teams through the possibility for further customization. The resulting local taxonomy, unlike the global taxonomy, would allow researchers to include data that they considered vital but that are unique to particular countries. These types of data may not be universally applicable and are thus not appropriate for the global taxonomy.
The ownership category relates to the legal description of the venue and not its source of funding. Non-private venues are categorized as “public” rather than “government,” since the parameters of what constitutes a government sector is not the same across countries. In many countries, governments have established agencies that are technically independent but nonetheless public entities. For example, an NGO might receive all of its funding from a government, but would still be categorized as NGO. Similarly, a government program might receive donated computers and connectivity from the private sector, but it is still a publicly-owned facility.
The internet access fee was selected as the most appropriate taxonomy category to capture data on venue service charges. Different options such as “ICT usage fee” were considered, but it was concluded that they would not yield useful or usable data, because of the range of pricing structures for different public access ICT services. A category such as “hybrid fee structure” would also not be useful: 1) further breakdown would be needed to understand which services are free and which are paid; 2) this level of granularity may not be possible, under the taxonomy requirement that data only be acquired through administrative data sources.
For the venue type, the terms “telecenter” and “cybercafé” were deliberately omitted as sub-categories, because definitions of these types of venues vary widely. Instead, a generic designation of “stand-alone facility” was used to identify such venues. The ownership and business mode taxonomy categories provide additional detail to distinguish between telecenter-type (public or NGO owned, not-for-profit) and cybercafé-type (private, for profit) venues. Although not a perfect solution, this allows for greater control in data collection without assigning a rigorous definition that may be inappropriate or difficult to implement in some countries. In instances where a venue is located within an entity that also has the potential to provide ICT access (for example, a cybercafé located within a library), the taxonomy uses the broadest description of the location. Thus, for a cybercafé located within a library, the venue would be categorized as a library. The local taxonomy as well as the comments fields can be used to provide context for such instances.
The incorporation of a mobility category accounts for venues that are mobile in nature, such as computer services delivered via boat or bus. The mobile category only applies to venues that are mobile in all their operations, rather than fixed venues that have a mobile component. For example, a fixed location library that sends buses to provide library service to surrounding communities would be classified as a stationary venue. Again, the local taxonomy and comments fields can be used to provide context in such instances.
Since the definition of a rural or urban area varies from country to country and source to source, the designation of a venue as rural or urban is based on research teams’ knowledge of local definitions. With the geo-coding of the inventory data, different definitions of rural and urban can be applied to the data in the future (e.g., based on population size or distance from a central location).
Location and contact fields
The inventory contains a total of 64 discrete fields representing three major categories: taxonomy fields, geographic location and contact fields, and comment and supplementary fields.
- Venue name (in the local language and translated into English).
- Venue start date, as well as (if relevant) venue close date or future start date. Data on venues that closed before the inventory data was submitted, or were expected to open in the future, were not collected with the same rigor as data for currently operating venues. However, where such data were available, data collection teams were encouraged to submit them.
- Venue address information, broken down by street name, building number, city, county, postal code, and any applicable regional units.
- Venue contact address if different than the physical address (for example, if the contact address is that of the program that operates the venue).
- Direct contact information of the venue, including phone, fax, email, VOIP, and website (these fields are considered private and will not be publicly available).
- Venue contact person’s role, address, phone number, and other contact information (these fields are considered private and will not be publicly available).
Additional data fields in the inventory include the following: confirmation of the presence of ICTs at the venue; other venue information, including programs in which the venues may belong; source of data and last data verification date; and comments/notes.