Home > Uncategorized > Will Closing the Digital Divide Help End Poverty?

Will Closing the Digital Divide Help End Poverty?

Interesting article in the Telegraph (UK) newspaper today interviewing the UK’s digital champion Martha Lane, where she states that access to digital services and the internet could save the poorest Britons £3 billion. Her support organisation called RaceOnline2012, which ties in with the date of the next Olympics which are held in Britain, aims to tackle the issue of the estimated 10 million Britons who don’t use the internet.

Those of us who are dotcom survivors will remember Lane as the poster child of the dotcom boom in the UK, as she co-founded lastminute.com. But in recent years the Labour government had asked to her to head up this new initiative which she seems to relish. As their website states ‘Worryingly, four million of these people are also amongst the country’s most socially excluded. So the people who have the most to gain from the internet – whether to overcome isolation or to save money – are the ones who are missing out.’

Of course it isn’t just about the people. The principal aim is the estimated saving of £22 billion, of which the UK government could save at least a £1 billion a year by switching people from paper and phone over to online ways of accessing government services. Lane has agreed partnerships with a range of organisations including Google, BT, Sky, Skype,  and McDonald’s. Again this is a win-win as these companies want to tap into what marketers call the ‘bottom billion’ market.

The real key to the development is actually the local schools, colleges and libraries who not only have access to the broadband and computers, but also put on classes on how to use that technology and infrastructure. Even with the drop in computer prices, the combined cost of machines and broadband are still beyond some people’s pockets. In Ireland similar developments are ongoing on the ground, including courses being made available by area partnerships, schools and colleges. More done, more to do.

The full article and Martha Lane interview is here.

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