Digital Divide(s)

The term “Digital Divide” refers to the concept of a division in access to certain technologies that prevents communication and at times, further development with a community or country. Depending on the source utilized there can be one digital dived or multiple digital divides. Most of the discussed digital divides center upon demographical separations both domestically and internationally. These separations often occur along age, income, and geographical location divides. The presence of digital divides presents a large problem in our continuously globalizing society. Predictably, there are a number of different reports written on the subject.

This phenomenon of digital divides was explored thoroughly in the 1995 report titled, “Falling Through The Net.” The report, published by the United States National Telecommunications and Information Administration explores the digital divides that exist within the United States. Some of the most prominent divides found were between age and geographical location. The report is considered a key perspective in the discussion on ICTs and digital divides. However, “Falling Through the Net” was not the only report released that touched on the concept of digital divides. The 1981 report titled, “Many Voices, One World” explored similar topics. The report was published by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and is often referred to as the McBride Report. Chapter 6 specifically of Part II of the report explores the disparities in communication technologies. It also expresses the need to address these disparities. These two reports, “Many Voices, One Voice” and “Falling Through the Net” brought attention to the concept of a digital divide (or multiple digital divides) to the attention of the international community. They also facilitated the initial attempts to address the existence of digital divides and the various repercussions of their existence.

As stated previously, addressing digital divides is essential in an increasingly globalized society. As discussed in the two previous classes, ICTs are critical to developing more inclusive urban areas and the inclusive, sustainable development of society as a whole. In fact, many of the goals and ideals set forth in the New Urban Agenda will be exceedingly difficult to address should these digital divides persist. Therefore, it can be argued that the very existence of digital divides makes sustainable, inclusive development exceedingly difficult. Similar opinions, as is noted by Megan as well, are expressed in other documents associated with this class including the WISIS +10 outcome document and the WISIS +10 matrix. Looking into the future, addressing digital divides will be essential if the international community hopes to achieve true inclusive and sustainable development.