Digital inclusion Initiative aims to deliver equal and affordable access to computers and the internet to all. Universal access to information and communication technology (ICT) has become a basic infrastructure requirement in civil and democratic societies, and its value is so high, that in many societies, access to the internet at home is seen as a vital utility – just as gas, water and electricity supply are vital utilities. This may sound like an extreme and spoilt statement, but the 21st century digital age has seen probably the most accelerated utilization of any communication device the world has ever seen.
However, there are still vast areas of the European population who have never touched a computer, and therefore isolating themselves from the majority of society. The digital divide has a huge negative impact on communities, by limiting access to information, employment and social networks, which in this day and age are quite simply the norm.
The barriers faced in tackling digital inclusion can by due to cost, infrastructure and education. Infrastructure and cost are closely aligned, as cabled internet access requires investment either by internet service providers who of course need to recoup their investment by charging recipients of broadband internet a subscription fee. Due to broadband costs, many of our fello citizens cannot afford this – but in recent years, initiatives such as ‘public library programs’ have been implemented, which allows anyone to use the internet from their local library. Continued work in this type of public programs will have a positive impact. However, is still an issue! If you don’t know how to use a computer, and naturally are not aware of the benefits of being ‘online’, it is difficult to fathom the huge positive effects. Therefore, relevant public education programs are needed in order to help those that are currently isolated.
Delivering ICT to everyone will result in economic, cultural, social and health benefits. Relevant ICT skills in a society has been proven to have the greatest positive economic on a society than anything else.
E-SCN aims to become involved in programs targeting the increase of digital inclusion!