Early identification and evaluation of slowly emerging problems related to the ubiquitous networked computing & communications environment in the state of Hawaii

by Winter, Jenifer Sunrise

Abstract (Summary)
Ubiquitous Networked Computing (UNC) is an emerging environment encompassing future developments in the areas of Pervasive Computing, Mobile Computing, and Ubiquitous Computing (e.g., Weiser, 1991). This research sought to enhance policy decision making by identifYing and assessing emerging problems related to UNC in Hawai?i over a twenty-year time frame. This study also investigated differences in problem assessment between information technology specialists and non-specialists. A six-phase methodological process employing scenario planning, electronic focus groups, and problem assessment surveys was developed to investigate perceptions about emerging problems. Specialists and non-specialists generated eighty unique problem statements and additional members from each group assessed the relative importance of these statements. Specialists further assessed a subset of 24 statements according to four problem criteria adapted from previous research by the Center for the Study of Social Policy (1977). Non-specialists participating in the electronic focus groups expressed distinct and different concerns from the specialists. Further, both groups found the statements generated by non-specialists to be valuable contributions, arguing for their inclusion in the process of problem identification. By the Mann-Whitney U test (p<.05), significant differences in assessment between groups were identified in 41 of 80 problem statements. Analysis of between-group differences suggests that specialists share a frame of reference focused on addressing near-term obstacles to the growth of high-technology industries within Hawai?i. Non-specialists expressed greater concern for longer-term human-centered issues, particularly those related to control of the process of technological development. This research contributes a framework that extends current knowledge of potential emerging problems related to UNC. The methodological process can be applied in other content areas or regions. Ranked lists of problem criticality assessments by each group and by individual problem criteria were created. Analysis yielded three policy indices intended to assist decision-makers direct limited resources toward problems that may yield the most substantial long-term return-on-investment. Further, this research contributes to an understanding of the opinions of diverse stakeholders and how identifying differences between them may be an effective means of recognizing emerging problems. Examination of these differences can initiate future-oriented social negotiation involving multiple perspectives, leading to a more human-centered implementation of technology.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Wedemeyer, Dan J; Communication & Information Science

School:University of Hawaii at Mänoa

School Location:USA - Hawaii

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:05/01/2003

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