ICTs and Sustainable Development

Communication technology is a crucial part, especially in this day and age, of successful development.  This has been demonstrated by documents like the Maitland Commission Report called the “Missing Link” that we read in class, as well as the WSIS+10 outcome document.  We’ve reached a point in society where communication technology is needed to function and participate in almost every aspect of life.  It has the ability to speed up and make more efficient every task we do from day to day, and contributes to quicker development.

The report called “The Missing Link” highlights the gap we see between certain demographics to rapid communication technology.  We commonly see disparities in access to this technology between the rich and the poor, urban and rural residents, and young or old people.  To give a sense of how big the gap really is, it is estimated that 75% of the world’s telephones are concentrated in only nine countries.

The poor and disadvantaged are excluding from contributing to development when they don’t have access to these technologies since they stimulate many social and economic activities in life.  The exchange of knowledge is a powerful tool.  An example we discussed in class was that a farmer without access to communication technology may fall behind on the latest farming methods or technologies.  They could also fall behind by being unaware of what the market prices for certain crops are, and that could result in earning less than they deserve.

Computer access specifically can help people by bringing to them information about job postings, or community resources they may have been previously unaware of.

The idea of knowledge sharing through this technology can specifically relate to my capstone on sustainable and reliable urban transportation.  As we know, adequate public transportation is required to live a sustainable and healthy lifestyle, and allows more people to contribute their talents to the development of society.  In developed cities, residents can use smartphone applications to get live updates on public transit arrivals and plan their commutes to work and school.  Those in underdeveloped cities or countries without access to these services may be left out of the equation, and will cause difficulties in securing a job or doing well in school, for example.

The WSIS+10 document explains that institutional changes will have to be made to fix this problem, like providing cheaper technology or installing infrastructure to allow the technology to be used.