Towards Digital Equity

hong kong presentationOn January 10-11 2019, I participated at the International Symposium “Wellbeing and Inequality in the Digital Age: New challenges and new possibilities” Lingnam University, Hong Kong.

The symposium, very well attended, posed interesting questions:

How will technological change impact on life chances, wellbeing and social inequality?

Is a digital society ‘smart’ for all, or exclusionary for many-and in what ways?

How is technology reshaping the social policy agenda?

What does new technology offer in terms of new ways to deliver policies and to better inform citizens?
I presented a paper titled “Towards Digital Equity” in which I argued that “digital inclusion projects”, regardless their public or private nature, aim to create an inclusive society in which no-one is left behind.

Here my abstract:

 

In the digital society, where an increasing number of services, products and activities are migrating online, those who are digitally excluded might be also socially excluded. For this reason, in the attempt to tackle digital exclusion, digital inclusive initiatives are proliferating almost everywhere in the world. Digital inclusion projects, regardless their public or private nature, aim to create an inclusive society in which no-one is left behind. Improving digital inclusivity means, in fact, supporting citizens in the use of ICTs not only to satisfy their needs (for information or services), but also to increase their “networking capital” and gain potential benefits from being part of this public arena, eventually enhancing social inclusion through digital technologies. However, guarantying the access to ICTs, by promoting affordable technologies and reasonably priced broadband, while vital does not guarantee social inclusion per se. Creating a digitally inclusive society means, above all, challenging the three levels of digital divide, namely the inequalities in accessing to ICTs, the inequalities in using ICTs, and finally the inequalities in rewards and benefits deriving from different accesses and uses of ICTs.

In this sense, digital inclusion initiatives should simultaneously tackle the three levels of digital divide to promote Digital Equity, namely the condition in which all citizens are provided with the skills and information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, in terms of economic, social, personal, political and cultural well-being.  Some case studies and policies adopted by European countries (such as the UK) to boost digital equity and reduce social inequalities by using ICTs, will be discussed.

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