The Digital Divide "It is dangerously destabilizing to have half the world on the cutting edge of technology while the other half struggles on the bare edge of survival…"
Introduction … The term digital divide refers to the gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology and those with very limited or no access at all. It includes the imbalances in physical access to technology as well as the imbalances in resources and skills needed to effectively participate as a digital citizen.
Digital divide worldwide
CANADA The digital divide still exists between the rich and the poor; 91% of people making more than $91,000/year regularly used the Internet, compared to 47% of people making less than $24,000. This gap has lowered slightly since 2005.
CHINA Just over 19% of Chinese people have access to the Internet and the digital divide is growing due to factors such as insufficient infrastructure and high online charges.
EUROPE Within the EU, the digital divide is primarily a matter of age and education. Among the young or educated the proportion of computer or Internet users is much higher than with the old or uneducated. Digital divide is also higher in rural areas.
UNITED STATES 55% of adult Americans have broadband Internet connections at home, up from 47% who had high-speed access at home last year at this time . This increase of 8% compared to the previous year’s increase of 5% suggests that the digital divide is decreasing. However, the findings go on to show that low-income Americans’ broadband connections decreased by 3%.
Overcoming the Digital Divide Projects like One Laptop per Child offer a partial solution to the global digital divide and tend to rely heavily upon open standards and free open source software. The OLPC XO-1 is an inexpensive laptop computer intended to be distributed to children in developing countries around the world to provide them with access to knowledge.
Overcoming the Digital Divide Organizations such as Geekcorps, EduVision and Inveneo also help to overcome the digital divide. They often do so through the use of education systems that draw on information technology.
Overcoming the Digital Divide
International cooperation between governments have begun, aiming at dealing with the global digital divide.
The UN aims to raise awareness of the divide via the World Information Society Day which takes place yearly on May 17. It also set up the ICT Task Force in Nov 2001.
Overcoming the Digital Divide Some cities in the world have started programs to bridge the digital divide for their residents, school children, students, parents and the elderly. One such program, founded in 1996, was sponsored by the city of Boston and called the Boston Digital Bridge Foundation. It especially concentrates on school children and their parents, helping to make both equally and similarly knowledgeable about computers, using application programs, and navigating the Internet.
"An individual poor person is an isolated island by himself and herself. IT can end that isolation overnight."Prof. Muhammad Yunus