Can cyberinfrastructure end poverty?

A key reason for my passions for new technologies and models, like Cloud Computing and Open Government, is that I believe they are the key to finally addressing what have been intractable issues in our society, most notably poverty. Hence the project.

So what role can cyberinfrastructure play? Well it’s as much a question as it is an answer. What do you think?

The main points I’d highlight are:

  • Broadband economic impact – The relationship between availability of broadband Internet infrastructure and local economic development.
  • Open Policy Innovation – The ability to harness the new Web 2.0 culture to engage citizens not only in providing feedback on government policies in these areas, but to actually “crowdsource” what these policies are.
  • Cyber Innovation – Online virtual worlds and business models are considerably more powerful than the offline ones we currently use to deliver Government services.

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Stephanie Slade

To your first point, I think we need to be cautious. Does broadband access lead to economic development, or is it the other way around? Would be nice if it were the first. I hope you’re right.

Alicia Mazzara

I often feel there is a disconnect between technology and solving social problems like poverty and hunger. For instance, if someone doesn’t have access to clean water or housing, getting them broadband internet is not so high on the priority list. People in poverty in developing nations face a different set of problems compared to people in poverty in Detroit or New Orleans, etc. But another key to ending poverty is educating people so they can contribute to the economy. To that end, I can see how cyberinfrastructure could improve educational opportunities, which in turn fosters economic development.

Neil McEvoy

Yes Alicia, couldn’t agree more.

There is essentially two types of poverty, one in the developing world, which is understandable because as you say there is a basic infrastructure layer entirely missing, and then also in the developed world where frankly it’s shameful it exists. Ie people live in poverty next to highways where BMW’s drive passed all day.

That’s simply a lack of political leadership and broad base social empathy. It’s within our power, we just don’t care enough.