Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division
The overall objective of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Division is to provide state-of-the-art ICT facilities and efficient support to the research staff, teaching faculty, students and other Divisions of the Institute. The ICT Division also aims to electronically disseminate the social science research produced at PIDE to maintain its ranking as one of the top research institutes around the world.
In-house computing activity at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) started in mid-70s with the acquisition of a programmable desktop Hewlett-Packard machine (Hermese). From this modest beginning, computing services evolved and expanded to keep up pace with rapid developments in the field. Dependence on computing facilities of other organizations like Quaid-e-Azam University, United Bank Limited, Habib Bank limited and National Bank of Pakistan, which were the mainstay of PIDE computing in the early 80’s, gave way to PIDE’s own mainframe IBM4361 in 1987. In the early 90’s PIDE started moving towards distributed computing.
An Ethernet backbone was laid and workstations were procured and connected to it. The decommissioning of the IBM 4361 in 1994 put an end to the mainframe era at PIDE, which by now had a substantial computing strength in distributed computing environment. Afterwards the Institute’s network grew to add a large number of desktops (mainly PCs) in users’ offices and labs. To ensure security of students and staff the whole campus is monitored by CCTV cameras.
Currently PIDE has more than 500 nodes connected to its Local Area Network (LAN) through Gigabit Ethernet connection and accommodate laptops and mobile devices through wireless Access Points, hence enabling Smart Campus environment. The Division is providing Broadband Internet connectivity through fiber as a member of the Pakistan Education and Research Network (PERN) under HEC umbrella. Full-featured web e-mail services are offered to its staff, alumni and current students. The Division also provides On-line Lecturing and Net-Meeting using IP-based Video Conferencing through Higher Education Commission (HEC). Technical support is provided to faculty, staff and students who enroll in online courses/workshops/meetings organized by PIDE, Virtual Education Project of Pakistan, or any other forum.
The ICT Division made online presence of PIDE by in-house designing and development of PIDE website http://www.pide.org.pk since 1998 when very few organizations in Pakistan had their websites. The Division was also involved in the design, development and maintenance of websites for South Asia Network of Economic research Institutes (SANEI), Global Development Network (GDNet) South Asia Regional Window, and Pakistan Society of Development Economists (PSDE) http://www.pide.org.pk/psde/. Recently a website for the Pakistan Development Review (PDR) http://www.thepdr.pk has gone live which is a refereed international journal of economics and social sciences being published by PIDE since 1961.
The Division also handles Geographical Information System (GIS) applications and processing of spatial data in support of PIDE research programs alongside an immaculate capacity to design, develop and maintain large statistical databases and carrying out extensive analysis of the data for research and policy implications.
The ICT Division is also providing technical support to other Divisions of PIDE by providing online access to library catalogue, data bank, graphics designing for PIDE publications, scanning and result compilation for admission aptitude tests, online application submission for admissions, software development like Payroll, Examination Management System, Personal Information Management System, and data entry applications for surveys conducted by PIDE, trainings of Microsoft Office and statistical software like SPSS, procurement of software and equipment, troubleshooting, hostels Internet facility and multimedia presentations. The Division also facilitates staff and students for checking plagiarism, faculty evaluation for QEC, recording of lectures and training workshops, meetings/seminars through VOIP like Skype, etc.
Currently two major projects including deployment of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution and Campus Management System is underway which will automate most of the functions related to Human Resource, Finance, Inventory and Stock management, etc for employees and Admission, Academic and Financials for students respectively.
The ICT Division is also handling data verification of students eligible for Prime Minister National Laptop Scheme from Phase I to V, correspondence with HEC and students, distribution of laptops and accessories, preparation and conduct of online tests for internationally recognized Microsoft Certifications.
The availability of quality data in user friendly format is the basic ingredient in carrying out research of high standards. The ICT Division collects data from various national and international agencies and maintain it for research and educational purposes. The knowledge generated in isolation without proper dissemination would generate little welfare therefore for wider sharing of research conducted at PIDE, all PIDE publications are available online through Repec, ECON, GDNet and PIDE’s own website. For this purpose all old publications were scanned to develop a digital archive of PIDE Research.
There is also a need of development of computer skills of staff and students at PIDE from time to time which is being met through training and refresher courses on different statistical packages and other software organized by ICT Division. The ICT support for development of better linkages with other national and international institutions through arrangement of Video Conferences, Skype sessions and availability of recorded lectures is also provided by ICT Division.
It is the dedicated effort of the officers and staff of the ICT Division which has made it possible to keep up pace with all this evolution of technology, and at the same time providing maintenance and user support.