Australia’s Digital Hubs Directory

Australia has been a leader in broadband adoption by creating the Department of Broadband, Communications, and the Digital Economy.  This government ministry is providing $13.6m USD available in grants to communities to increase broadband adoption and digital inclusion programs.

A component of Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN), the Digital Hubs Program is an initiative tied to these grants to aid local communities to improve their digital literacy skills and increase their broadband adoption.

The Digital Hubs Directory was created to facilitate communities applying for these NBN grants and organizing digital inclusion initiatives.  This site provides information about the impact of broadband-based solutions regarding topics ranging from health to education, and home uses to business solutions.

This directory allows NGOs and other organizations to add their best practices and broadband-based successes to the growing list that provides detailed information about and how they impact and support Australia’s NBN

Visit the Digital Hubs directory at: http://digitalhubs.aiia.com.au or read more about it at: http://www.newsmaker.com.au/news/11322

Public Policy Framework Helps Provide Direction for Libraries Regarding Digital Inclusion

The Institute of Museum and Library Services, the University of Washington Information School, and the International City/County Management Association have developed a comprehensive framework to help libraries identify, evaluate, and improve services regarding digital inclusion and digital literacy.  More and more individuals without computer access at home are turning to libraries as a conduit to access the Internet.

The document, “Building Digitally Inclusive Communities,” is the product of over 100 organizations’ comments and ideas.  The document highlights five important principles: Availability and affordability, public access, accessibility for people with disabilities, adoption and digital literacy, and consumer education and protection.

The document provides high-level guidance to furthering the digital inclusion discussion in local communities and directs readers to additional helpful resources.

View the document at: http://www.imls.gov/assets/1/AssetManager/DIC-FrameworkGuide.pdf or read more about it at: http://www.nlc.org/news-center/nations-cities-weekly/articles/2011/july/new-icma-resource-facilitates-digital-inclusion-in-local-libraries

The Broadband Commission’s Online Sharehouse

In response to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s directive to encourage the UN to meet the millennium Development Goals, The International Telecommunication Union and UNESCO set up the Broadband Commission for Digital Development.  The Commission’s mission is to advocate for the inclusion of broadband on the international policy agendas and is working to increase broadband access internationally.

One tool that the Broadband Commission has developed is a user-driven database of best practices ranging from case studies to policy recommendations.  This database, the Sharehouse, has over 200 searchable initiatives from reputable organizations such as the Brookings Institution and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society.  Each submission is categorized by themes on which the submission touches upon, such as Infrastructure or Policy and Regulation, includes information about the project’s geographical coverage or area reported upon, and other classifying details such as time scale, partners, and points of contact.

The Broadband Commission’s Sharehouse is an outstanding example of how the international community can learn from each other through the stewardship and guidance of the United Nations and other international organizations.  Visit the site at: https://www.itu.int/net/broadband/Sharehouse/Search.aspx

Broadband in Brazil: A Multipronged Public Sector Approach to Digital Inclusion

With 35 million fixed and mobile broadband subscribers, Brazil ranks among the top ten countries worldwide by total number of broadband users. Its large population, however, places the country’s broadband penetration outside the top-50 worldwide. This report explores the challenges, opportunities and successes that define Brazil’s Information and Communication Technology experience.

Regionally, Brazil is slightly above the Latin American average in terms of penetration, but behind Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. Speed of access follows a similar pattern – Brazil is better than the regional average, but below US or European levels. Likewise, Brazil has relatively good international fiber connectivity, although it is not as well connected as some of its neighbors. Similarly, prices for telecommunication and broadband access are lower than other countries in the region yet still relatively high compared to North America and Europe, especially outside the major cities. Phones, computer and telecommunication equipment are also significantly higher in cost, partly due to import duties on IT equipment, further reducing affordability of access among the lower-income groups.

In an effort to help to improve coverage and reduce the cost of broadband access, the government has begun a major broadband infrastructure development initiative which has set ambitious targets to triple broadband uptake by 2014. The largest ICT infrastructure project ever carried out in Brazil, called the National Broadband Plan (PNBL), it aims to ensure that broadband access is available to low-income households, especially in areas that have so far been poorly served.

Read the report (pdf): http://www.infodev.org/en/Document.1128.pdf

Read more: http://www.infodev.org/en/Publication.1128.html

Public-Private Partnerships to Bridge Africa’s Digital Divide

Innovative partnerships involving governments, software giants and telcoms will accelerate connectivity and bridge Africa’s gaping digital divide.

Experts who met at a just concluded third edition of the Africa Public-Private Partnership Conference in Nairobi hailed the potential of structured collaboration between the public and private sectors to transform Africa into an ICT hub. Zaki Khoury, the Regional Manager, Global Strategic Accounts, Middle East, North, West, and Central Africa as well as Pakistan and Turkey at Microsoft, underscored the potential of public-private partnerships to promote universal access to ICT services in Africa.

Khoury noted that Africa is a frontier market that has attracted investments in ICT sector as the GDP of many countries expand. “We have ICT hubs in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. This calls for a revaluation of our business model to engage more with governments and private companies and leverage these partnerships to accelerate connectivity,” says Khoury.

He continued “Microsoft adopts public-private partnerships to maximize on the resources, leverage our technology and scale up our execution together with governments and other companies.” Khoury stressed that structured public private partnerships are critical in addressing social challenges such as provision of quality education and health services.

“These partnerships have boosted quality and competitiveness of the education system. They have increased collaboration among students alongside connectivity with teachers to create greater knowledge forums”, remarked Khoury.  Mainstreaming ICT in the education sector in Africa will boost skills and competitiveness of the youth in the job market.

Khoury vouched for digital learning in schools to prepare students for a knowledge based economy. Microsoft has partnered with Kenya’s Ministry of education under a “Partnership in Learning” project to develop digital curriculum for schools.

“We will in the next three years help Kenya progress towards digital literacy,” says Khoury. He cited the “Microsoft Digital Literacy” initiative that has helped streamline technology enhanced learning in schools.

Read more: http://www.africasciencenews.org/en/index.php/technology/45-hitech/245-public-private-partnerships-to-bridge-africas-digital-divide-says-microsoft

European Network and Information Security Agency Publishes 18 Protective Recommendations Against Key Risks for Cyber Bullying & Online Grooming

The EU Agency ENISA, the (European Network and Information Security Agency) has launched a new report on cyber bullying and online grooming (preparing sexual abuse); warning that misuse of data (data mining and profiling) harms minors. The report identifies the top emerging risks and makes 18 non-technical recommendations for their mitigation. One key recommendation is to strengthen Member State’s law enforcement agencies. Other recommendations point to safeguards adapted to the needs of youth’s cyber activities.

Digital devices and the internet now play a significant role in children’s lives. Today’s young people live their online lives in both private and educational settings. This is an environment radically different from that of their parents, in their childhoods. Risks in a child’s online environment can be detrimental to their physical activities and social skills, argues the ENISA Expert Group on Internet risks.

The report details a scenario of 13-year old Kristie’s changed behavior, poor grades and negative attitudes due to abuse in her online life. Many parents lose control, as they lack knowledge and tools to support their children, the report argues. The Agency thus issues 18 recommendations to mitigate identified risks.

 

Read the full report: http://www.enisa.europa.eu/act/rm/emerging-and-future-risk/deliverables/Cyber-Bullying%20and%20Online%20Grooming/at_download/fullReport

Read more: http://www.enisa.europa.eu/media/press-releases/new-report-cyber-bullying-online-grooming-18-protective-recommendations-against-key-risks?goback=%2Egde_133109_member_80318930

Freedom Rings Partnership will bring Internet access, training, and technology to low-income residents of Philadelphia

The Freedom Rings Partnership is a $25 million federally-funded initiative led by the Urban Affairs Coalition and the City of Philadelphia, with Drexel University as a major partner.

The Freedom Rings Partnership is made up of grassroots organizations, government, and universities that will bring Internet access, training and technology to residents in low-income communities.  This multi-year initiative officially kicked off on January 17, 2011 by sponsoring the signature project of the MLK Day of Service – refurbishing used computers to be distributed back into the community, assembling digital literacy kits, and hosting a high-tech scavenger hunt called “Race to Connect.”

“The goal of the Freedom Rings Partnership is to help eliminate the digital divide by enhancing and expanding underserved communities’ knowledge of and access to the Internet so they can acquire information about employment, education, health, and community and economic development, said Matlock-Turner, President and CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition. “This project will open doors, enhance lives and create access and job opportunities through technology.”

The Freedom Rings Partnership will reach over 100,000 Philadelphians with information about the importance of broadband to their daily lives; provide hands-on training to 15,000 people at over 130 locations citywide, including 77 public computer centers; and distribute 5,000 “netbooks” to public housing residents who complete technology skills training. Public Computer Centers (PCC) will be located across Philadelphia, primarily in north, south and west Philadelphia.  Locations will include a variety of recreation centers, health and social service organizations, workforce development agencies, and nonprofits. In addition, 4 mobile computer labs will travel throughout the city to provide training and Internet access to underserved communities.

The first Graduation Ceremony for the Freedom Rings Computer Training Program, held Aug. 11, 2011. Each graduate to complete the program walked home with a free Dell netbook computer. Courtesy of GPUAC.

For more information, please visit:

http://www.uac.org/news/uac-launches-freedom-rings-partnership

http://technicallyphilly.com/2011/10/04/can-we-tackle-philadelphia%E2%80%99s-poverty-problem-with-technology-guest-post