Timothy Haithcoat and Shriniwas Gautam
02 Sep 2012 to 02 Sep 2012
In the United States, the State of Missouri has approached broadband planning from a regional perspective in that a comprehensive broadband needs assessment was conducted in 2011 whereby 76,400 residential surveys were mailed out and approximately 13 percent (9,825) of the surveys were returned and analyzed.
The impact and benefits of information technology have been shown in different sectors of the economy in various ways. It not only saves time and resources, but also eliminates the barriers of distance in both communications and in conducting business. However, it is imperative that the challenges and barriers associated with this digital divide in access and use of information technology be addressed. Only through identifying and addressing these issues can we then provide equality in the opportunities and benefits that digital discourse can present. There are several dimensions of the digital divide including: social; demographic; economic; and geographic factors.
This presentation will describe the following five (5) components of this gap:
- Difference between availability and adoptability; Availability is largely a technical issue while adoption has multiple influences that can be prioritized and addressed within communities.
- Importance of self-identification (rural –vs- non-rural); The designations (labels) that are used to aggregate groups are more clear and useful if chosen by the stakeholders themselves.
- Need for information technology service bureau functions; In many cases non-adoption / non-participation is tied to a need for having access to staff with more advanced technical skills to provide those services.
- Roles and required training and education; Layman’s terminology of the roles needed to be filled, required time commitments, and an educational (continuing) plan for achieving that goal with in-house staffing.
- Evolution of discussion forums and the problem of exchange (speed) disenfranchisement. If in the discussion of a Digital Earth the Have’s are moving at a faster speed in their discussions than the Have Not’s the chasm will expand and ideas and perspectives will be lost.
All of these components limit the opportunities to share and exchange data, ideas, and information thus resulting in some stakeholders being inhibited while others are benefiting.
It is these authors belief that the barriers found in the differential availability and adoption at the local scale in Missouri have associated parallels at both the national and international scales.
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