Thursday, October 11, 2012

Post 8: Global Digital Divide

The global digital divide affects all countries around the world. Choose a foreign country you are interested in and report the percentage of Internet users and how this percentage has evolved in the past five years. Are there any clear gender, age or other demographic gaps among the users?

Next, please describe a recent policy that has been adopted in order to bridge the digital divide in the country. Is it funded by the local government, a private company or an NGO? Do you think it is likely to reduce the technology gap?

9 comments:

Sicong Zhao said...

The internet user of India is going to hit 150million by December 2012, according to anticipation from http://www.iamai.in/PRelease_detail.aspx?nid=2648&NMonth=9&NYear=2012, whose user number in 2007 was 42 million, according to the Internet World Statistics. http://www.internetworldstats.com/asia/in.htm
India is seen as one of the fastest country in internet user group growth. Although their rate of user is relatively low (about 8.5% in 2010), the growth is still rapid and obvious in this country.
“Women lead rural India's internet rush” according to http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3871529.stm , indicates that the rapid growth of internet users is mostly contributed by female users in India.
The fact that women contribute a lot to user growth brings out a rational hypothesis that the gap between gender in India was largely diversified.
The Indian government had already started their policy in order to bridge the digital divide. The policy initiated mainly focused on rural areas, intended to help low-educated, low-social economic and low-social status people to adopt the internet. The policy has been kept going for nearly 10 years and the results seems to be desirable, that the new adopters were mostly previous bourgeois and lower classes. Anyway, the digital divide is originated in economic divide, so the policy focuses mainly on economic filed other than communication field.
As far as we can see, the poverty gap in India is still too huge, which leads to a problem of single bridging action of digital divide could be too feeble. The digital divide is a deep rooted social problem that could only be fundamentally solved by economic growth and social development.

Sarah Wiley said...

Indonesia
According to Internet World Stats’ first quarter numbers of 2012 [1], 22.4% of Indonesia’s total population has internet access. Indonesia is eighth in the world, with 55 million users. Compared to 2011, Indonesia has shown a growth of 29% in its internet users [2]. That is expected to increase to 76 million users by 2015 [3]. The only demographic indicators I can find relate to social media so those are obviously skewed with 18-24 year old by far the most active social media users followed by 25-34 year olds. Socialbakers reports Indonesia has the fourth largest Facebook nation with over 44 million users and the fifth largest Twitter nation in the world. The majority of Indonesians access the internet from the mobiles.[5]
Recently mobile technology in Indonesia has been used by various organizations to help rural farmers. IAARD (Indonesian Agency for Agriculture and Development) launched a mobile phone version of NMRice (Nutrient Manager for Rice), an application that offers free fertilizer advice which will help to improve yields.[6] One of the largest digital divides in Indonesia is rural/urban but with increasing internet access on cell phones (Indonesians have about 6 handphones per family) this gap can be narrowed. The technology gap in this case seems to be an access gap – most people have cell phones (many with internet) but it is getting service to these areas.

[1] http://www.internetworldstats.com/top20.htm
[2] http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1009172&ecid=a6506033675d47f881651943c21c5ed4
[3]http://e27.sg/2012/07/05/indonesias-internet-penetration-highest-by-social-media-expected-to-hit-76m-internet-users-by-2015/
[4] http://www.socialbakers.com/
[5] http://www.buzzcity.com/l/reports/WhoUsestheMobileInternet08.pdf
[6] http://irri.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=12208%3Afree-phone-advice-helps-indonesian-rice-farmers-earn-more&lang=en#.UHWMZ_OKXYM.email

Mary Pei said...

I picked up Russia to study the development of digital divide in terms of gender, age and demographic gaps. The most recent data from Internet World Stats shows that the rate of Internet users is 44.30% in Russia by March 2012. The number of Internet users in Russia has reached 61.5 million as of December 31, 2011. In the past five years, the Internet penetration in Russian has grown rapidly. However, it is found that a substantial digital divide exists across the country. First, there is a significant gap of Internet use between largest cities and regional area in Far East. The penetration rate is 70% in Moscow and St.-Petersburg which is the highest in Russia, while in Far East it was only 21% in 2010. The speed, price and infrastructure of the Internet vary largely from major cities to regions. Also, age is one of the major affecting factors for digital divide. According to data from 2009 Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey, the highest rate of Internet use is 82.8% in 18-24 years old and the lowest is only 5.8% in 65-74 age groups. In the mean time, the gap between genders is relatively close in Russia. The data from 2009 indicates that the rate of Internet use for male is 33.5% while it is 30.3% among females.

The authorities have implemented a number of policies in order to reduce digital divide. The Federal Antimonoply Service (FAS) initiated investigation toward the major Russian telecommunication companies in 2009; this was aimed to eliminate unreasonable fees in the regional markets in order to provide equal access to the Internet. After completing investigation in 2010, FAS announced that legal proceeding will be launched to enforce the Internet provides to reduce the price in regions. The strong intervention from government might solve the problem quickly and efficiently in a short run in a centralized state like Russia. However, censorship is also very likely to happen in this type of country. The ideology gap may need more effort to be narrowed than technology gap.

Aimee Burch said...

According to Internet World Stats, about 33 percent of Lebanon's total population has internet access [1]. However, internet and its subsequent adoption has been slow-moving in Lebanon. It currently ranks 158 out of 178 countries in terms of consumer download speeds [2].
This slow adoption and rates of speed can be attributed to accusations of corruption and sector monopolies.
Internet services in Lebanon are administered by their Ministry of Telecommunications. In an article by Habib Battah entitled "Web of Deceit: How Lebanon's Internet Failed Business," Battah says that the Telecom Ministry recently reported that it would be at least three to four more years before the country reached real broadband speeds like those we are used to here. Apparently, the topic of internet and the ridiculously slow speeds are of such a sensitive nature, it is rare that Lebanese officials will actually broach the subject [3]. The Lebanese government has been touting their accomplishments for years now, saying that internet use would soon be vastly improved. However, many Lebanese say this has yet to happen.
One of the statistics on Internet World Stats for Lebanon that I found interesting was that their percentage of the population with internet was the exact same percentage of Lebanese citizens with Facebook profiles, at 33 percent. That means that if you have internet access, you apparently automatically have a Facebook account. For a country considered "partly free" on many international freedom scales, like Freedom House, coupled with this notoriously slow internet, something just does not seem right with that particular statistic.
I would like to think that if these initiatives and ministries do come together and create something, it will certainly bridge the technology gap currently seen in Lebanon. But it does not seem very likely anytime soon.

1)http://www.internetworldstats.com/list2.htm#k-p
2)http://netindex.com/download/allcountries/
3)http://www.beirutreport.com/2012/04/investigating-lebanons-internet.html

Amber Knutson said...

According to Internet and World Stats, only 10.4 percent of the Bolivian population used the internet in 2008, up 9 percentage points from 2000 (1). With two companies with rights to the country's internet and phone usage, instead of driving prices down, the companies have maintained a fairly high priced service until 2001 when the market was opened for further businesses (2). However, after nationalizing the largest telecommunications company in 2008, ENTEL, Bolivia will install wireless networks throughout the country - even rural areas - and offer 3G coverage (3). Because Bolivia is a poor country and a developing country that has gone through recent government upheaval, the ultimate factors in creating an effective digital environment are the economy and need. While the majority of Bolivians are poor, with nearly two thirds of its population poverty stricken (4), the needs of the population don't generally include the internet. While down in Bolivia about eight years ago, I found that the internet was primarily used to teach and to learn and I believe that the government's decision to nationalize ENTEL, while divisive politically, was a step forward for the country's economy, but also for the population's education.

1. http://www.internetworldstats.com/sa/bo.htm
2. http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/cs/bolivia/material/bolivia.pdf
3. http://www5.apc.org/fr/system/files/CILACInvestigacionBolivia_EN_20090707.pdf
4. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35751.htm

Rebecca Peterson said...

Puerto Rico - While not technically a country, I chose Puerto Rico. According to Fox News, in Feb. 2011 the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration appropriated $26 million to build broadband connections to the U.S. (underground cable to Miami). While 86% of the country has internet capabilities, only 31% subscribe to service. Just 55% of households have a computer. This number is largely unchanged over the last 5 years, according to Internet World Stats. The NTIA grant will provide high speed access to 1500 K-12 schools. (Just an aside - I found it interesting that the Caribbean Journal in May 2012 gave the governor of PR the credit for the initiative and not the U.S.government.) I hope that by providing faster speeds and better infrastructure, more Puerto Ricans will adopt service. Puerto Rico interests me because we have a fair number of baseball players attending ECC and I have found that they are much less "techy" than I would have expected of 18-20 years who are U.S. citizens. Education in Puerto Rico has had an interesting past: when the islands became U.S. territories, schools were briefly compelled to teach in English. But after a few years Spanish was once again instituted and English classes treated as a second language. This year the governor suggested English become the major language in schools again - a proposition met with loud disapproval. While subject to the No Child Left Behind Act, and technically under the U.S. Department of Education, I am fascinated by the fact that our Puerto Rican athletes often can't speak English and have to participate in a language program before they can enroll as regular ECC students. I hope better access to the Internet helps them become more fluent in English, opening up opportunities for them in colleges across the U.S.

Raeann Ritland said...

I chose to focus on Cyprus.
According to data from the World Bank, 52.99% of people were Internet users in 2010 (1). The same data claims just ten years previously, the percentage of Internet users was at 15.26% (1).
Data from the Cyprus Computer Society shows that in 2011, 63.9% of people owned a personal computer, 55.5% a laptop, 33.6% a desktop, and 3.6 a handheld computer (2). These percentages are up from 2005, when just 46.4% of people owned a personal computer, 43.2% a laptop, 12.1% a desktop, and 2.3% a handheld computer (2). Having a computer is different than having Internet access, though. Data shows that from 2005 to 2011, the percentages of households with Internet access have increased from 31.7% to 57.4% (2).
The Cyprus Computer Society also collected data on reasons people use Internet. They found that the majority (84.9%) used the Internet to find information about goods and services (2). Others used it for reading/downloading newspapers/magazines and for participating in social networks, 63.8% and 58.9% respectively (2). People used it least for selling goods or services (2.6%) (2).
In terms of age, financial status, and education level, data show younger people, people with money, and people with a higher education as using Internet more (graphs are in foreign language, but this is what it looks like) (2). The reason people do not use the Internet is due to a lack of skills (63.9%). Some 45.4% also claim they do not need the Internet (2).
There are a number of “Digital Literacy Initiatives” taking place in Cyprus, one of which comes from the Cyprus Productivity Center and is called the “e-Gnosis Web-based Platform” (2). It involves free and open access, has 4525 registered users (1800 accessed in three months), provides for self-learning on different topics, and has e-Skills training based on the “7 Core Modules of the European Computer Driving license” (2). It plans for population-wide training. Other fun initiatives include an International Educational Fair (competition at an Internet CafĂ©), an IT Treasure Hunt (for special needs people), and Special Schools (for the deaf and blind). The University of Cyprus also holds competitions for high school students within its Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering Departments (supported by private organizations).
Problems with these initiatives come in that they do not all have clear objectives, nor are they based on the same standards. Also, motivation for participation is monetary reward, and assessments of success are not measured. Finally, because they are held in urban areas, those in rural communities do not have the same access/opportunity, nor do some other groups like the elderly, disabled, or imprisoned (2).
I do not think these initiatives are likely to decrease the divide because not everyone has access to them. Even if they did, access alone doesn’t solve the problem. Just because a person can access the Internet doesn’t mean he or she will use it effectively or efficiently. It reminds me of the one-to-one initiatives we have in Iowa. Giving high school students computers is not going to make them successful or lessen the digital divide. Only teaching them how to use the technology will.

1.http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&met_y=it_net_user_p2&idim=country:CYP&dl=en&hl=en&q=internet+usage+statistics+cyprus#!ctype=c&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=s&met_y=it_net_user_p2&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&idim=country:CYP&ifdim=country:region:ECA&hl=en_US&dl=en&ind=false
2.https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:NDpzMTtFDnIJ:ec.europa.eu/information_society/events/cf/daelocal/document.cfm%3Fdoc_id%3D19520+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEEShvEWfI_8ttztkIWZYxb36yWQzPabhAP4LXQdfqmIW_cj4ZlQa5UfypT5mQCl4L-pbLJdSbr1E48Slf6dUljiKReMlMaZmhxQe67s24xdlgW4oBq8WAuxwgpt1G49R2DHJyx2rd&sig=AHIEtbSiCu26VqGglyNnIMNt1HG0hfj6NQ

Amber Knutson said...

I found it interesting that some of the statistics when I looked into Bolivia seemed inflated so, I understand some of Aimee's confusion with Lebanon. And I wondered at the time if the literacy rates had something to do with the amount of people using the internet - of course, the largest negating factor the fact that they are all poor.

Also, Rebecca brought up an interesting country/place - Puerto Rico. Depending on what happens in the next election there, we might very well see some new things happen!

Aimee Burch said...

I think another thing that really surprised me while reading through these posts was the amount of corruption and other issues that essentially lead to these divides and government unrest. I never realized the amount of issues digitalization can bring about with its introduction. I almost thought Lebanon was an outlier in terms of this. But after reading through these posts and doing my own research, I see how this can be a major issue.