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In-house computing activity at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) started in mid-70’s 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. During the next five years, the Institute’s network grew to add a large number of desktops (mainly PCs) in users' offices.

Currently PIDE has more than 200 PCs on users' desktops connected to its Local Area Network. The bandwidth of the local area network has been increased to 1 GB with the commissioning of a fiber-optic backbone, and switched UTP connection to the desktops. The ICT Division is providing 8MB Broadband Internet connectivity through fiber and full-featured web and e-mail services are being offered to its staff and students. The Division has recently provided the connectivity of the Pakistan Education & Research Network (PERN) and On-line Lecturing and Net-Meeting using IP-based Video Conferencing through Higher Education Commission (HEC).  The ICT Division has been directly involved in the installation and support of all these facilities.

The website of PIDE (http://www.pide.org.pk) was developed in-house by Computer Division in 1997 when the Internet was quite new in Pakistan and very few organizations of Pakistan had their websites. The Division not only maintainins PIDE website but was also involved in the design, development and maintenance of websites for South Asia Network of Economic research Institutes (SANEI) (http://www.saneinetwork.net), Pakistan Society of Development Economists (PSDE) (http://www.pide.org.pk/psde/psde.htm) and Global Development Network (GDNet) South Asia Regional Window (http://www.gdnet.org/southasia).
In 2002, the Division also developed a capacity in development of Geographical Information System (GIS) and processing of spatial data in support of PIDE research programs along side 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, software development like Payroll and data entry applications, trainings of statistical software, procurement of equipment and multimedia presentations.

Needless to say, 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.

 

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