Five years ago at the end of the Fourth Socio-Economic Cultural Development Plan of Islamic Republic of Iran (2004-2009), Information Technology Organization of Iran (ITO) one of the subsidiary organizations of Iran Ministry of ICT, performed the first country-wide and comprehensive measurement and analysis of ICT indicators in the country with a help of two private sector companies. The objective of that measurement was to measure the progress of country towards the targets that was mentioned in the ICT development plan of Fourth Development Plan according to the 44 indicators. Some part of this data collection process was done at a country-level from governmental organizations (1200 organizations), schools (65000 schools), and universities (180 universities). Another part was based on administrative data collection, field studies, surveys and expert opinions. This measurement process was a challenging one and we learned a lot of experiences in that effort. At that time, ITO faced many challenges such as lack of a measurement model, ambiguity in the definition and measurements methods, lack of governing and national coordinating body and lack of financial resources for measurement and data collection.
Due to the importance of measuring and analyzing ICT indicators in the country and according to the international experiences and quality frameworks, the policy makers decided to consider a law and formal provision for the ICT statistical system in the Fifth Development Plan of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The law instructs Ministry of ICT to develop a system for ICT statistics in the country till the end of second year of the plan. According to this law, Ministry of ICT is responsible for measuring, monitoring and providing analytical reports and feedbacks for the decision makers. Ministry of ICT has assigned Iran Information Technology Organization (ITO) to act as a national coordinating body for ICT measurement and develop an ICT statistical and measurement system for Iran. ITO performed this task with the help of Tarbiat Modarres university and Data Processing Company (Parvaresh Dadeha). This initiative was an excellent successful working example of cooperation among government, academic and research bodies and private sector in Iran for achieving the country goals and objectives. One of the results of this initiative was a document for describing the main components of the Monitoring System for ICT indictors in I. R. Iran. In this document, application domain, Core ICT indicators of Iran (definitions, measurement methods, methodological notes and etc.) , roles and responsibilities, institutional structure, financial structure, time plan for data collection, analysis and dissemination are described in detail. The specification of this system was formally approved by the ICT minister and on 25 Mordad 1392 (2013) all the governmental organizations were formally informed . that they should align their related activities with the obligations of this document.
According to the General System Theory, each system has specific characteristics such as input, output, functionality, feedback, environment, boundary and etc. As mentioned in the figure, we can define Monitoring System for ICT indicators of Iran according this viewpoint as follows:
Inputs of system
These inputs are used in various stages of the system. These are high-level policy documents of Iran, data that are collected from the organizations, international ICT indicators, progress reports of provincial, regional and national projects and basic facts and figures such as population, economical and cultural information and statistics.
Main processes of the system
According to the objectives of ICT measurement in Iran, the main designed processes of this system are as follows:
- Definition of indicators
- Data collection
- Data quality assurance
- Data dissemination
- Interacting with international bodies and improving Iran rankings
- Interacting with national bodies
- Technology monitoring
- Continuous improvement monitoring
- Capacity building
Main outputs of the system
Outputs of the system are as follows:
- Policy recommendation and improvement suggestions and guidelines
- Measuring the Information Society of Iran report
- Analytical reports
- Reports to international bodies
One of the main processes of this system is continuous improvement. Each year, new policy documents are published, existing policy documents are changes, there are some changes in the objectives, and there are feedbacks from stakeholders.
Conceptual model of System, defines the main concepts of this system and their relationships with each other. As mentioned in the figure, the main concepts of the model are Core ICT indicators of Iran, processes, technical infrastructures, training, research, capacity building, and international affairs. In the following lines, some description about each concept is provided:
Core ICT indicators
These indicators are defined for measuring the progress towards the objectives of national high-level policies, international development goals such as MDGs, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and national and international policy makers’ needs. For each indicator, a definition, base value, as-is value, to-be value, measurement method, methodological notes, annual growth rate, responsible governmental organization and related governmental organization have been specified.
The System is executed by this structure. One of the key components of the monitoring system is the organizational structure that is responsible for governing the initiative, managing the process and performing the necessary activities for realizing the system in the country. The main activities of this body are as follows:
- Policy making
- National coordination
- Interaction with international bodies
In designing the organizational structure and the national coordination mechanisms and processes, among the templates and supporting mechanisms that have been proposed the UNSD National Quality Assurance Framework has been adopted. In the designed structure, Information Technology of Iran (ITO) is a governing body and Strategic Planning and Monitoring Center (SPMC) of ITO is a managing department for the system that performs all the planning and execution activities for the system. Organizational structure of Iran ICT indicators monitoring system defines the hierarchy of delegation of authority, information exchange, cooperation and distribution of duties. ITO (IT Strategic Planning and Monitoring Center) is responsible to form the “ICT indicators monitoring system national coordinator working group” in order to employ the national capacity in this field. The members of this working group are the representatives from the governmental organizations and private sector bodies which are introduced by their related bodies according to the request of ITO and approval of the Center. They are assigned by the head of ITO. The working group members are introduced or reinstated by their organization by the end of 24 September of every year in order to plan, coordinate and perform necessary arrangements for monitoring upcoming year. ITO may form a working group with the cooperation of Strategic Planning and Monitoring deputy of MICT for consultation and cooperation on audit, data verification, analysis of the compliance of reporting results with the objectives, finalizing appropriate reporting method and quality control in the various stages of monitoring system implementation to meet Compliance and governance requirements.
International Interaction and communication
By this component, we mean that all communication and interactions that are necessary for capacity development, reporting, improving Iran’s rank in the international rankings, benchmarking and etc. The main advantages of considering a specific component for international communication are as follows:
- Interaction and communication with international bodies and experts provides exact and up-to-date information about the latest ICTs development in the country. Reflecting the latest development in this area, can improve rank of Iran in the international rankings.
- Participating in the international events provides the opportunity for identifying the latest trends and evolution in the area of measurement and monitoring ICTs. This can lead to improvements in the System also.
Execution of the System is not possible without considering the needed budget in the annual budget of governing body of this system and the related and responsible governmental organizations. According to the obligations that have been mentioned in the document, all governmental organizations are responsible to suggest and consider the necessary budget for collecting their updated and accurate ICT statistics of their own organizational units. ITO is responsible to consider the needed budget and funds for internal cooperation and data gathering, information analysis and publication, cooperation with international bodies and other assigned responsibilities in its annual budgets.
Data collection for indicators needs the needed software and hardware infrastructures. ITO is responsible to launch a web portal in English and Persian for the collection and dissemination of data and analytical reports. ITO is responsible to manage (preparation, operation, maintenance and updating, systems improvement and uninterrupted access through Internet and information national network) the portal.
Technical capacity building
The governing body is responsible to perform capacity building in the form of trainings, seminars, courses or e-learning courses to improve knowledge and technical skill level in the field of ICT indicators monitoring.
Core ICT indicators of I. R. Iran are defined for measuring the progress towards the objectives of national high-level policies, international development goals such as MDGs, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and national and international policy makers’ needs. For each indicator, a definition, base value, as-is value, to-be value, measurement method, methodological notes, annual growth rate, responsible governmental organization and related governmental organization have been specified. As shown in the figure, the main priority areas for defining the indicators in this set are as follows
National facilitating Infrastructures
- ICT infrastructures
- Cyber security
- Revenue and investment in ICT
- ICT R&D
Key Functional areas
International ICT indictors and readiness models
- ITU ICT Development Index (IDI)
- UN E-government Index (UN EGDI)
- WEF Network Readiness Index
There are other international indicators that should be reported annually to the international organizations. These indicators have been included in the ICT Core indicators of Iran. These are indicators that have been defined in the following references:
1- International Telecommunication Union, Manual for Measuring ICT Access and Use by Households and Individuals, 2014.
2- International Telecommunication Union, ITU Handbook for the Collection of Administrative Data on Telecommunications/ICT, 2011
3- International Telecommunication Union, Measuring the Information Society.
4- International Telecommunication Union, Measuring WSIS Targets: A Statistical Framework, 2011.