In this world there exists a global digital divide where disparity exists between developed and developing nations in regards to access to computing and information sources, such as the internet, and the opportunities created from this access. The 2015 State of Broadband report produced by the United Nations Broadband Commission found that 57% of the world’s population are offline and unable to take the economic and social benefits the world can offer via technology.
The Internet is expanding quickly and technology is also advancing just as fast. Developing or Third World countries are unable to keep up with these continuous advancements and changes. A digital divide is not simply just lacking technology but can also include differences in technology used. As part of its Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations aims to have both men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, to have equal rights to access appropriate new technology by the year 2030. This goal calls for stronger efforts by governments and all actors involved to ensure access, use and affordability to the population is attainable. It has already been observed that the 48 United Nations-designated least developed countries are in a critical situation with well over 90% of people without proper access to internet connectivity.
The digital divide may be derived from a variety of factors with them mainly being due to socioeconomic levels and different demographic categories. Physical, financial, socio-demographic, cognitive, design, institutional, political and cultural access all play important factors in limiting technological access. Physical access involves owning the equipment and having the infrastructure necessary so technology works and access to the internet can be attained. Design access means that technology must be accessible to individuals with different learning and physical abilities; this barrier is addressed in Article 21 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Financial access involves the costs of obtaining technology, training, as well as maintaining or updating infrastructure to match with the ongoing advancements. Sociodemographic access is the most influential as it determines one’s access and usage of technology with the level of education and income being deciding factors and age having some influence. Possessing the information literacy and the ability to find or use reliable information affects cognitive access. The number of users are affected by institutional access where access is offered only at home or through other public services like through schools, community centres, or religious institutions. This holds true more so in developed countries where access is very limited. Political access also plays a role where technology access is impeded by authoritarian or totalitarian regimes that limit internet access or go as far as to remove the infrastructure necessary to make technology accessible. Another important point to note is that even if the divide were to be lessened, cultural access is key where images and languages used must be understood by all people.
Access to proper technology is pivotal in this world as it helps businesses and makes communication easier. How this access will be delivered is important to consider as many factors affect the population’s ability to obtain it. It is important to consider these factors as you debate and find a solution to the issue.
Billions of people in developing world still without Internet access, new UN report finds. (2015, September 21). Retrieved August 30, 2016, from UN News Centre website http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51924
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from UN website http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml
Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. (2015, September 25). Retrieved August 30, 2016, from Sustainable Development website https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld
Declaration of Principles. (2003, December 12). Retrieved August 30, 2016, from World Summit on the Information Society website http://www.itu.int/net/wsis/docs/geneva/official/dop.html
Plant of Action. (2003, December 12). Retrieved August 30, 2016, from World Summit on the Information Society website http://www.itu.int/net/wsis/docs/geneva/official/dop.html