The world is under tremendous pressure as challenges keeps increasing. The time has come for us to come together to pave a pathway for a sustainable future. At one end the developmental stressors such as extreme poverty, food insecurities, lack of quality education is hindering socio-economic progress of the people, while at the other end the impact of climate change is threating the future of the planet. The Institute of Social Informatics and Technological Innovations (ISITI) is positioned to play an instrumental role to address the development challenges. The niche areas of the institute have been aligned with the vision statement of the institute “an inclusive knowledge society comprised of communities that are inspired to innovate with technology towards sustainable development”. The four niche areas are -Community Sustainability, ICT for Development (ICT4D), Socio-Technical Innovation and Indigenous Knowledge Management. ISITI has undertaken several projects catering to these specific niche areas and it is noteworthy to highlight the alignment of the key focus areas of the institute can be seen to actively contributing to fourteen of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed by the United Nations which includes - Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being, Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities.
ISITI’s pioneering efforts towards sustainable development dates back to 1999 with the launching of a multi award-winning ‘eBario project’. The project introduced ICT infrastructures and internet access to Bario - a remote village in the Borneo Island of Malaysia. The social impact that came along with this intervention is remarkable as it connected the once isolated communities to the world and opened various opportunities for socio-economic growth. The thriving tourism business and a self-sustaining community in Bario is an outcome that speaks of our success in achieving the SDG indicators. Since then ISITI’s best practices and the model of community telecentre has been replicated to four sites in Sabah and Sarawak - states in the Malaysian Borneo, and additional four Orang Asli sites in the Peninsular Malaysia. ISITI’s Telecenter Programme for Orang Asli (TPOA) project has further expanded our community telecentre model as ‘Rural Transformation Knowledge Centre’ - a one stop centre for the communities to access and share locally relevant knowledge. The project aims at capacity building and socio-economic development by offering community development programmes in the areas of training, education, health, tourism, indigenous knowledge and agribusiness.
ISITI is also contributing in the preservation of indigenous knowledge and local practices through its social enterprise projects. The Handicraft Development Projects has produced a range of contemporary rattan craft products and handicraft brands such as the ‘Long Lamai Penan Platters/ Coilings’ and ‘Murum Penan Craft Products’. The efforts undertaken in this sustainable commercial project has expanded ISITI’s role as a ‘Rural Social Entrepreneurship Hub’ to groom the rural entrepreneurs and offer them a platform to showcase their indigenous knowledge. The role became prominent with the establishment of the ‘Centre for Social Innovation’ as one of the labs of the Digital Sarawak initiatives of Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) to deliver value-add services and maximize social impact by developing and deploying innovative solutions.