October 24, 2011
Kate Pope Hodel, KCSourceLink
MBIT considers the digital divide
Dr. Bernard Franklin, a member of the Mayors' Bistate Innovations Team, offers insightful comments concerning the team's approach to the Kansas City region's "digital divide." Bernard is Assistant to the Vice President, Kansas State University; and Education Consultant, Redeemer Fellowship, KCMO
The technology revolution and the internet have become central features of modern global society, and overall, many low-income neighborhoods still lag in comparison with metropolitan and suburban areas in the development and application of information communication technology (IT). One implication of being on the losing side of the digital divide is that there are fewer employment opportunities as many jobs are related to the new information-based economy. It also means that there is less opportunity to participate in the myriad of online activities including training, shopping, entertainment, research and communications. In addition, and most importantly, being digitally connected has become critical to economic and educational advancement. As people use the Internet to conduct daily activities, those who lack access to those tools are at a growing disadvantage. Raising the level of digital inclusion by increasing the number of users should be a critical goal of this task group.
By not continuing to develop IT infrastructures and accessibility to the Internet, negative repercussions on the future stability of urban communities will occur. The Internet can be a powerful democratizing force, offering greater economic, political, and social participation to communities that have traditionally been underserved, and helping communities meet pressing needs. But unless concrete actions are taken to ensure that everyone has a chance to share in the benefits of the Digital Age, information technology could just as easily become another resource that is denied to the people who need it most. And in the end these neighborhoods could be left behind.
Click here to download Dr Franklin's paper.