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Monday, January 24, 2011

Technology Information

What is Technology Information ? Explain various sources of Technology Information ?

Ans: Technology information in simple terms means information on technology. This brings up two questions : what is information and what is technology. Information is referred to as a communication of facts results, ideas and thoughts. The ‘technology’ essentially means ‘know how’ that is ways of designing, manufacturing or utilising things. It can also defined as the know how to transform concepts into goods and services for the satisfaction of customers. It is a broad form of resource endowment and embodiment of knowledge for production of goods and services.

Technology is imbibed in various forms; the most common of this could be identified in the machines used for manufacture or the skills that are transformed through human beings. These forms would comprise know-how, know-why, technological processes designs, drawings, specifications, computer programmes and other information besides, industrial training, intellectual property rights etc.

Technology information abounds. Products, brochures and techno-economic feasibility studies needed by firms and entrepreneurs are just as plentiful as the thousands of commercial technologies available. The volume of information for researches is even more staggering. In 1970 there were 2 million papers on science and technology and the numbers jumped to 6 millions by 1980 and it is increasing exponentially. The rate of increase are now expected to double in every years. Thus a vast amount and source of information is available.

Just as a good technology does not automatically reach as entrepreneurs who could make full use of it, a good technology information does not automatically reaches the person who needs it. There is always the possibility of an entrepreneur accidentally passing by a trade fair or meeting a technology agent and thus be exposed to the technology in the same way that many technology information users come across information through friends or in magazines. Leaving the exposure of technology information to a random chance, however is not the best way of bringing technology to the user. Not only would the opportunities be lost but the exposure might be raised towards technologies with good advertisements which may not necessarily be appropriate for the firm or the country.

It is therefore, necessary that there is a systematic approach t acquiring information. The main task would be tapping the right source while there are a large number of sources from where information could be obtained:

Some important sources of technology information are :

1. Published literature

2. Exhibitions and conferences

3. Industrial and trade association

4. Government organisation and departments

5. Patents

6. Experts and consultants

7. Data banks and data bases

1. Published literature : published literature are available in the form of technological text books, manuals, encyclopaedia, online published articles, ideas, technologies, ebooks, websites which are useful references on technology aspects of a products and process. There are also many directories dealing with various issues ranging from products, processes, manufacturers, traders, exporters cooperatives and R & D institutions. They are reference tools for a quick scan of technologies and their sources. Some directories even provide preliminary screening of dependable companies. The exporters directories for example, could identify manufacturers who, by virtue of being exporters, might be more reliable in terms of quality control and of meeting deadlines.

There are also technical literature and directories published by international organisations such as UNIDO, ILO and others .

Then there are magazines from where considerable information can be obtained. While there are certain magazines which are specially devoted to technology aspects, there are others of general interest which devote a section or column to technology.

2. Exhibitions and Conference: exhibitions and conferences are also extremely good source of technology. The products and the technical description are on display, giving a quick view of technology. There are also seminars on new technologies. Meeting rooms are also provided to enable sources and potential users to come together to discuss possible technology transfer. A large number of exhibitions and conferences are held in India by several organisations in various technological and related fields. Trade Fair Authority of India is the focal agency for trade fair or exhibitions or buyer-seller meets in India and abroad.

Industrial and Trade association: - the industry and trade association regularly publish directories and yearbooks which also have information on technology trends, policies and products and processes.

3. Government Organisation : these are also extremely important and useful sources of information. For instance the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research brings out the technology status studies on a wide variety of subjects. These provide useful information on current status of technology , the future trend, sources of technology and many other information. The DGTD is also a good source of information on specific technologies. Similarly there are other sources of information on specific technologies.

4. Patents : this is a rich source of information. A look into this can uncover inventions, including those not protected by the national patent law. It identifies which countries and companies are dominant in particular technologies. It gives an update on the state of the art of patent based technology that could guide firms and entrepreneurs as to where their business concerns could lead as well as encourage inventors to stimulate their creativeness or to rekindle old ideas.

The information on patents in India could be obtained from the patent offices located at Calcutta, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and centralised information centres at Nagpur.

5. Experts and Consultants : when one is in difficulty in understanding technical details in finding the sources of information or in solving a technological problems, one may resort to the use of technical consultants. Technical consultants could provide ‘band aid’ to ‘major surgeries’ assistance.

The list of consultants is available from various sources like Consultancy Development Centre, National Association Of Consulting Engineers, Association Of Consulting Engineers and others. This is arranged subject wise.

In case of the required expertise is not available locally, one could approach foreign consultants.

6. Data Banks / Bases : These are one of most important sources of information which is increasing exponentially with the advent of Internet and web based technologies. These are store houses of information on a wide variety of subjects. Their main objective is to provide the relevant information from a number of sources that are available today. The databases have developed very rapidly with the advent of electronics and communication field. Every day, a large volume of information is being generated in different forms, all over the world. It is difficult physically for any individual or a single organisation to keep track and store of all such information. The development in computers and communications has made it possible. In fact a large number of data bases provide information all over the world. The online retrieval has made it possible to get the desired information in a matter of few minutes even in seconds in search engines like Google, Yahoo etc.

In connection with this source of information, one normally comes across two terms: Databanks and Data bases. It is necessary to understand the difference between the two. The data banks contain information which can be directly used, for example, information which is statistical or financial nature, or which provides list of a list of products or names or addresses of companies etc. Data bases on the other hand, contain bibliographical information with abstracts and indexing and refer to original documents which may be journal articles, books, reports, conference papers and others. These are also at times, referred to as textual data base. Most databases have their roots in printed indexes and abstract journals and are computerised version of abstract journals. Full text data bases which contain full texts and documents are also now in operation.

A Wide variety of subjects are covered. A few typical examples are patents, the local information centres for ensuring resource sharing activities like inter loans and referral services and document supply services. A software research centre called National Resource Software Centre has been established recently at Vishakhapattanam. The centre will acquire information handling software packages from international and national organisations, among its other activities.

Some of Govt databases of science and technology information in India are :

1) Technology information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC)

As a follow up of technology policy Statement 1983, TIFAC was set up under DST as an autonomous body in February 1988 with the following objectives : -

a) Creation of an information system including data bass or data bank.

b) Conducting action oriented studies and forecasting in selected priority areas.

c) Action towards publications and creation of public Information System base.

d) Management Development

e) Creation of TIFA mechanisms in ministries / departments and develop necessary linkages as a system and

f) Development of linkage with private sector, small industries and educational sector.

TIFAC has initiated actions to collect, analyse and disseminate technological and related information, in terms of preparation of technological reports, setting up of information links with the help of NIC and other agencies.

2) National Information Centre (NIC) :
National Information Centre NIC in the planning commission is now providing computer based information services to the central and state govt. departments and district administration in India. A computer communication network called NISNET has been established connecting the districts, central and state government department for quick information flow through satellite. The four super computers installed at Delhi, Bhubaneswar, Pune and Hyderabad from four regional centre nodes of the network. The NIC state centres set up in the state capitals have super- mini computers (ND-550 or equivalent) while district have AT computer with four terminals. Major network services available on the NICNET include electronic and distributed database. Special projects of NIC include Tele informatics Development Programme, Computer Aided Design Programme, General Information Service Terminal (GIST), conducting training programme etc.


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