A Holistic Information Systems Development Approach for Societal Development - ISD4D

Research summary

The aim of this research is to respond to the challenge of adjusting technology to local contexts in the field of ICT for development, by developing a comprehensive approach (methodology) for the analysis and design of sustainable and scalable socio-technical information systems that promote societal development of local communities in varying developing-country contexts.
In addition, the project has a capacity building objective of forming a sustained tripartite international research group capable of disseminating, evaluating and improving the approach further.


The ISD4D project is based on previous research of the research group in the Informatics Development for Health in Africa – INDEHELA projects as well as a number of related national and international projects. The project will integrate the currently separate methodological sub-areas into one, and adjust them to the specific contextual settings of developing countries.

The resulting holistic information systems development approach for societal
development (ISD4D) is to comprise methodological guidelines in five sub-areas integrated into a holistic one: (1) Context mapping, (2) Community needs analysis, (3) Workflow analysis, (4) Architecture design, (5) Interaction design.

The research approach is participatory action research in which Finnish, Mozambican and South African researchers collaborate with local actors to jointly develop the IS development approach. The empirical cases will be real-life IS development projects in maternity health.

The tripartite research team is strongly networked with a number of partners and projects nationally and internationally. Dissemination of results will take place through these networks. The outcomes will include the ISD4D approach documented in a report and several refereed scientific papers, as well as 5-8 PhD degrees in Finland and Africa.

Bridged the gap from ICT policies to the real-life development of socio-technical information management for societal development in Africa by African stakeholders accelarated the project's societal impact scope. A documented, empirically tried IS development approach that is contextually sensitive was a major scientific breakthrough in Information Systems.

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Research publication
Project information

Research info

Research title
A Holistic Information Systems Development Approach for Societal Development - ISD4D

Research timeline
1.9.2011 - 1.8.2015


Finland, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa

University of Eastern Finland
School of Computing
Kuopio, Finland

Funding instrument
Business Finland, Academy of Finland

Head of research
Mikko Korpela

Research team
Koivu Annariina, Luukkonen Irmeli, Martikainen Susanna, Palmen Marilla, Pentikäinen Marika, Tiihonen Tuija, Vainikainen Vilma

Cape Peninsula University of Technology - South Africa, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University - South Africa, Obafemi Awolowo University - Nigeria, Eduardo Mondlane University - Mozambique

Contact information
Mikko Korpela, Retha de la Harpe
mikko.korpela@uef.fi; delaharper@cput.ac.za
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