DigI in Munich, Digital inclusion at IGF2018 Paris, updates

DigI partner meeting, Munich

A month ago, we had a team project  “Internet lite for all” and DigI partner meeting in Munich with participants from 10 countries, and at the Neuro-Kopf-Zentrum. This was my first time in Munich city, though short, it was very productive and inspiring.  Our team met in the Bavarian capital to discuss the project progress and to streamline the plans ahead. The major milestones reached are:

  • Agreement on Esilalei as the first village to get our information spot.
  • Baseline study to be conducted and official digital health information launch in January 2019.
  • Testing installation on the ground in November 2018.
  • Phase B villages identified.

Then, we had the expert Meeting: The Game Changer for Health Systems and User Involvement.

DigI team meeting, 8-9.Okt.2018, Munich
at RatsKeller, Munich

The final discussion on Strategy for Digital Global Health for All concluded with the following recommendations:

  • Digital health is an enabler for digital literacy and empowerment
  • The DigI project addresses means of measuring eLiteracy through key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Digital Empowerment for All requires an inclusive approach to reach everyone in the society
  • Digital Health information spots can act as focal points for digital empowerment for all, and should be established in every village
  • The freemium (free for information, and premium for entertainment) access through digital information spots will reach out to people being otherwise left outside of the digital society.
  • A village/society server like Yeboo.com is recommended to address the specific needs of the local society
  • An integrated view is on health, energy and information access is key for sustainable development and entrepreneurship

The DigI project is on-track, we move together to reach the change of the society Digital Health and Digital Empowerment for All. Complementary notes from the Munich-meeting here.

IGF2018, Paris

We represented our project and network on panels, at the Internet Government Forum – IGF, 12-14 Nov in Paris. Read more about IGF here. We promoted our project and new standard for social innovation /  free access to information “Internet lite for all.”

Overarching messages on Digital inclusion:

  • The Internet is a powerful tool for inclusion — probably the most useful tool. On the other hand, the Internet itself, if not utilised in the right direction, will easily lead to digital exclusion. Even with availability of access, a lack of trust in the Internet will deepen the existing digital divides in various forms.
  •  It has taken more than 20 years to connect close to 50% of the world’s population — can we afford another 20 years to ensure digital inclusion for the remaining 50%? The UN SecretaryGeneral has emphasized that “the imperative to leave no one behind is just as relevant in the digital world” — so what is the role of IGF community as a whole, and respective stakeholder group roles, as we edge toward target implementation and deliveries of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to ensure human rights are respected for all?
  •  Global statistics tell us that the average cost of Internet access continues to fall and over 70% of the world’s population are now living within range of mobile networks. However, despite increased awareness and development efforts, multiple forms of digital divides remain – from access and connectivity, to capacity divides and gender divides. But there is a growing consensus on the need for more diverse policy perspectives on the root causes and consequences of digital inclusion. A cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary and integrated approach is essential to the fabric of the multistakeholder process — to consider digital inclusion root causes and the inclusive design and deployment of new technologies, and to identify, understand, and address new and cross-generational issues.
  • Internet access is a key component in thriving social innovations. This is about more than access and connection and being an enabling tool — it is an empowering tool, not just in gaining decent work and employment but also for social inclusion. Equally important to support Internet access is also to ensure that people have a meaningful access that can impact their lives for the better. It is, therefore, important to focus on not just technical aspects but also human [or social] aspects of connectivity.
  • Challenges in access and connectivity remain and take different forms in various environments — a lack of conducive regulatory environments and legislative frameworks that support last mile and rural connectivity, and new technologies in general; inadequate enabling infrastructure (including rural power and backhaul); and commercial operators focusing on lucrative urban rather than rural connectivity, among others. High access costs due to geographies is also an issue, especially for land locked developing countries (LLC) and small island and developing States (SIDS).
  •  5G , starting with its cost-effective features, is envisioned to be a cornerstone infrastructure for digital economy and inclusion. Questions remain on its time-to-market and other enabling factors. On a similar note, mobile connectivity, IoTs and AI are among some new assistive technologies that display strong evidenced success and yet untapped potential to address efficiently the basic needs of the underserved, meeting SDG targets and indicators on electricity, water, education, healthcare and transport, among others.
  • In enabling Internet access, in addition to feasibility, both affordability and sustainability should be kept in mind. In some lower income or developing countries, people might not feel the need 2 to pay for Internet access (as a priority above other, more essential, services), or simply be unable to access the Internet in a meaningful and consistent way due to system inadequacies or a lack of infrastructure. Some simple but innovative examples of ways to address these issues are relevant and replicable. Feasibility is only one aspect of addressing Internet accessibility. See Freemium model we develop with Internet lite standard.
  • Digital inclusion can also lead to exclusion. A reminder on the prevalent global demographic trend of urbanization and smart cities is that cities should exist to serve the needs of society and all people, not the other way round. As an integral part of the population, the needs of persons with disabilities, older persons and other vulnerable groups should be part of thoughtful and integrated into the designs of cities. Likewise, urban slum conditions that need to be tackled with various policy measures, should include the use of relevant technologies. This could be done through incorporating tried and trusted criteria such as World Wide Web Consortium standards and Universal Design. New and innovative people-centric approaches are also encouraged.
  • Digital skills training programs complement traditional connectivity and improve economic outcomes for vulnerable communities. Techno-infrastructure is not enough. These include not only content development for users, but also technical know-how on ensuring sustainability of networks and community training for equipment maintenance, especially in underdeveloped communities.
  • Digital literacy is important – but digital inclusion is about more than digital literacy. It goes beyond browsing the Internet and using computer applications, to understanding and leveraging the power of the Internet to bring social and economic change to the community — to bring decent work and employment, social inclusion and a means to bridging the gaps between rural and urban populations. Without digital literacy training we can build all the networks we want but will not accomplish the goals we seek.

Updates

  • submitting a book chapter with other colleagues on Digital literacy for inclusion in Global South
  • next is the partners team meeting in Paris in April 2019.
  • setting up the KPI framework for digital literacy (my task & coordination)

 

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