Throughout the 21stcentury, information and communication technologies (ICTs) have drastically changed the way we live our lives. Even more incredible, ICTs have the ability to completely change the sustainable development field. In a recent joint study performed by Huawei and SustainAbility, experts found a high correlation between countries that are progressing well with the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) and those that have performed well in the ICT field.
ICTs have many uses in all aspects of the sustainable development world. First and foremost, ICTs facilitate worldwide communication and networking which allows experts to assist and work with people from all around the world without even having to step outside their own homes. This fact alone can be incredibly helpful in providing information and knowledge to those who may not have access to it without the use of ICTs. Another use of ICTs is in the education field. With the use of different technologies such as webconferencing, students from around the world can learn without having to have the funds to afford costly travel. This is also had tremendous success in increasing inclusive education because persons with disabilities are able to use ICTs to communicate and receive an inclusive education that might not be available in their community. Another factor of ICTs in sustainable development is that eCommerce allows businesses around the world to connect to customers anywhere and everywhere. This can have big impacts on economic growth and employment.
However, one problem to consider is that countries with extensive ICT use and development are beginning to drastically overtake countries still developing their ICT infrastructure and industries. This means that, if steps are not taken to mitigate this, the divide between countries with high use of ICTs and those still developing ICTs may grow exponentially and leave a massive gap, a digital divide, between large portions of the world. While ICTs have incredible potential in their application to the sustainable development field, more focus needs to be placed on bridging the digital divide between countries or else sustainable development will suffer. Greater emphasis should be placed on catching those countries that have less developed ICTs up so that they do not fall so far behind. This will also have a very positive impact on sustainable development as ICTs open up many opportunities in the field.
ICT is an amazing revolution that enables information to be shared across communication technology platforms. Thus, the telecommunications are when technologies will provide the access to information. This is a good method for improving accessibility and inclusivity for transmitting, distributing, delivering and receiving information. ICT has played a huge role in ICT for sustainable development and the integration of technology has been important for many different platforms. For example, in the development of energy power grids, ICT has become important for recording energy consumption levels and recording the data through ICT. ICT includes the integration of telecommunications like wireless computers, enterprise software, middleware, storage, etc. The WSIS+10 is the process marking the ten-year milestone since the 2005 summit. Therefore in 2015, the WSIS+10 was sponsored by the UN to understand and discuss the implications of ICT and emerging technologies in this integrated society.
WSIS discussed a lot of components on ICTs, development and bridging the global digital divide. The digital divide origin seems to have derived from the inequality and unequal distribution of technological development. Therefore, WSIS+10 was a 10-year review of the World Summit on the Information Society in December 2015. The impact for this summit was to initiative a follow-on activity in support of the MDGs. The following were the key issues: internet governance; the role of ICTs in development; and privacy, security and human rights.
The role of ICTs in development encourages many stakeholders who are looking to see the benefits of ICTs that play a role in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as adopted by the summit. This goes to tell us how important these summits are in initiating the goals and development related WSIS goals over the past couple of years and over decades. By having WSIS+10, it establishes a milestone for measuring the key metrics that started from these summits. In this way, ICTs are integrated into the SDGs because we start to see how they play a role and how ICTs are shaped to reach the goals of SDGs. Furthermore, the “Transnational Advocacy Networks in the Information Society” helps us see the changes of information society and how necessary it is for us to have governance practices. There are many case studies and qualitative and quantitative data incorporated in the study along with the international global governance conferences and policy procedures. There is a continued argument for the importance and resilience of international regime theory and how significant these conceptual frameworks are for understanding our evolving information society. Although ICTs are great and all, we see that there is a start to this “digital divide”. Moreover, we need to address the gaps in internet access that there is with various groups. This also links back to intersectionality where we need to incorporate all sorts of inclusivity.
ICTs have uses in nearly every aspect of development, but they are especially important in urban development. Modern technology not only enables the implementation of the SDGs, but they also serve as a poverty reduction mechanism and a tool accessibility. ICTs can reduce the digital divide in urban settings and ensure that PWD and other vulnerable groups have avenues for participation and equity.
In terms of transportation and accessibility, ICTs are vital sources of effective and efficient communication. For instance, the Internet of Things, or machine-to-machine communication can be used to keep metros and buses running smoothly and in a timely manner. Apps for smartphones can be equipped with audio technology so that users can be alerted when their bus or train has arrived or of changes in schedules. ICTs can be used in emergent situations to notify people of hazards and evacuation routes so that they can get themselves to safety. These technologies have a multitude of other uses, but in every role, ICTs enhance the lives of users and enable them to live more independently.
Sustainability-wise, ICTs can be used to make cities more energy efficient and less dependent on dirty sources of fuel. ICTs can help create self-driving cars that are usable by anyone and everyone; they can create water sanitation services that effectively utilize wastewater; and they can help facilitate waste management systems that keep all areas of the city clean.
Developing cities to use smart ICTs in an inclusive manner requires intentional planning and development. A wide variety of stakeholders need to be involved at all stages of the planning process and there needs to be feedback mechanisms so that these technologies can be updated to meet the ever-changing needs of urban dwellers.
As the world continues its journey into the abyss of the digital age, there is an increasing need to make technology accessible around the world. Technology brings such a wide variety of benefits and risks. While it can increase productivity and global understanding, it can also lead to exploitation and risk of privacy breaches. Nevertheless, many believe that information and communication technologies or ICTs are the key to achieve sustainable global development.
Our class discussions picked up with Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) with Inclusive Sustainable Development, noting the digital divide in an increasingly globalized society that has seen the growth and importance of ICTs. A common theme I noticed throughout the readings was the increasing disparity between groups who have access to technology (phones, computers, etc.) versus those who do not, or in other terms, the “have” and “have nots” (Brown). For example, in Falling Through the Net, I learned how the core of US telecommunications policy is to provide universal service where all Americans should have access to affordable telephone service (Brown). Unfortunately, the survey discovered that there a disproportionate amount of “have nots” found in the US’s rural areas and central cities. In terms of race, Native Americans in rural areas possess the fewest telephones (Brown). In terms of age, the youngest householder and rural seniors have the lowest number. Continue reading
ICTs, or Information and Communications Technologies, are technologies that offer access to information through communication. The term refers to both the physical hardware and the cyber infrastructure that people use to send and receive information and communicate with. Because these are so essential to everyday life now in the 21st century, reports such as “The Missing Link” by the International Telecommunications Union and “Falling Through the Net” by the National Telecommunications and Information Agency highlight the disparities in access to ICTs. Continue reading
One of the most vital aspects of sustainable development is the role of technology. Access to internet, cell phones, and other technologies are incredibly important to staying connected and not feeling isolated from society and the rest of the world. Moreover, technology can propel economies to develop. With universal access to technology, economies are able to enter new markets and connect with others. Yet, many still do not have access to the Internet and other technologies. Without digital data transfer, one’s choices are limited in multiple different aspects. In other words, academic, political, economic and educational opportunities are restricted without access to the Internet in today’s world.
The Maitland Commission Report was submitted by the Independent Commission for World-Wide Telecommunications Development in 1985. It highlighted the imbalance of telecommunications access in developing countries compared to developed countries. Essentially, the report outlines a direct correlation between access to telecommunications and a country’s economic growth. This report is most interesting because it is a valuable piece of literature that points to the need for modern telecommunications development. Similarly, the World Summit on the Information Society was a summit with two phases, one taking place in Geneva in 2003, and the other in Tunis in 2005. Not only did this summit aim to bridge the global digital divide between rich and poor countries, it was located in both what is termed the Global North and the Global South.
Similarly, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is located within the U.S. Department of Commerce, oversees telecommunications policies. The goal of NTIA is to provide universal access to affordable telephone service throughout the United States. Through their research titled Falling Through the Net, the organization focuses on both rural and urban settings that do not have access to the internet. Their research also highlights the disparities between minority and age groups as well as those less educated. The Falling Through the Net report explicates that the lowest telephone and computer access is prevalent in Northeast cities and in areas in the South. Ultimately, the NTIA explicates that it is necessary for federal, state, and local policymakers to first target public schools and libraries to provide access to disadvantaged families, and then expand NII networks into individual households. Having been published in 1995, I find it fascinating that in almost 20 years access to the Internet has grown exponentially. It is almost impossible to imagine not having any kind of access, although it does persist in certain areas.