The following is an excerpt from the “The State of Communications GovLoop Guide,” which you can view here. In the guide, we highlight the top 10 communications trends impacting government.
Technology plays a tremendous role in our day-to-day lives. Much of our communication now takes place over the web, and having access to a computer and the Internet is critical to being successful. The digital divide can be looked at through a variety of lenses, depending on which segment of the population you are considering.
Although great strides have been made in closing the digital divide, there are still some key challenges. The digital divide can encompass everything from prohibitive costs of computers and software, limited accessibility to Internet in certain areas of the country, and lack of technology education, especially for disadvantaged groups.
Open Government challenges agencies to use technology to be more transparent, participatory and collaborative as to how it meets the demands of citizens. The one problem that government officials face is that no level of technology will ever help to close the digital divide. Government officials need to remember that although technology is valuable, it is not a replacement for traditional methods of communication. In some cases, technology can exacerbate accessibility challenges to already under-served populations.
There are many challenges related to removing the digital divide and mitigating its effects. One particular issue that the federal government has addressed is providing broadband access to rural and low-income communities. Providing access to broadband would be a critical step for the nation and help alleviate some symptoms of the digital divide. Although the government has reported success in improving broadband access, a remaining obstacle continues to be cost of broadband and computers. There have been some promising initiatives, which have used smart phones and taken advantage of new technology to provide low-income citizens with access to the internet.
To read more and learn about the top trends in government communications, be sure to view the guide here. I’d love to hear what you believe are some of the challenges to close the digital divide.
What strategies would you recommend to close the digital divide?