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.

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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.

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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.


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Roadmap for Digital Inclusion Completed at “Innovation for Digital Inclusion” Conference in Poland

Adoption of a document relevant for the future of all EU citizens – “Gdansk Roadmap for Digital Inclusion” – concluded the “Innovation for Digital Inclusion” conference in Gdansk, Poland. It’s participants drafted the “Roadmap” in order to indicate to the European Commission the priority actions to be taken in the immediate future.

Carrying out of these actions may speed up the process of digital inclusion for 150 millions Europeans who are thus far excluded, and deliver a new and much needed impetus for EU’s economies struggling to overcome the current crisis. Importance of the document was underlined by Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commision responsible for Digital Agenda, herself present in Gdańsk.

“Gdansk Roadmap for Digital Inclusion” was drafted as a result of on-line cooperation in weeks leading up to the conference, with the involvement of e-inclusion specialists from throughout Europe. The simple fact that authors recruited from among practitioners who are on a daily basis engaged in e-inclusion and who possess a good knowledge of needs and obstacles standing in way of e-inclusion, only adds to the value of the “Roadmap.”

Our document provides inspiration to all sides actively promoting e-inclusion, outlining strategies and concepts combating digital divide and defining European inclusion policies,” stated Krzysztof Głomb, the president of “Cities on Internet” Association, at the document’s unveiling. The initiator and co-organizer of the Gdańsk conference stresses that authors of the document paid particular attention to the value of digital education. This corresponds with the opinion by the European Economic and Social Committee prepared and adopted in mid July of this year. According to the Committee, access to infrastructure and tools should be considered as a fundamental right, but without the education e-inclusion of digitally illiterate Europeans will not be accomplished,” Krzysztof Głomb adds.

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