Digital Divide – Get Involved!
Wednesday, 10th July 2002 at 1:07 pm
Do you have a Digital Divide project that can make a difference? Cisco Systems in Australia are encouraging businesses, Not for Profit organisations, and government to join forces and collaborate on new technology initiatives around Australia.
Cisco Systems convened a Digital Divide Cross Sector Working Group late last year in an attempt to foster greater collaboration and shared learning around Digital Divide projects in Australia. It’s part of Cisco’s commitment, both in Australia and internationally, to be involved in initiatives that are aimed at bridging the Digital Divide.
The Cross-Sector Working Group consists of approximately 30 organisations from the corporate, community and government sectors. It is endeavouring to encourage collaboration on Digital Divide projects, and to create an ongoing forum for the exchange of ideas and identifying new project opportunities to tackle digital exclusion in Australia.
Cisco believes that with the different sectors working collaboratively, all sectors can make a real difference around Digital Divide issues in Australia.
The group has agreed to undertake a six-month trial which began in June 2002, using an existing US-based Digital Divide project clearinghouse web site – Digital Dividend.org – as a mechanism for exchanging information and stimulating project collaboration.
Cisco has appointed Positive Outcomes to facilitate the project and is looking for Digital Divide initiatives that target disadvantaged groups, require collaboration with other organisations, have the potential to be sustainable, replicable and scalable and are able to demonstrate impact.
Alice Cahill from Positive Outcomes says the Digital divide project is not about handing out money but looking at ways organisations in different sectors can collaborate around digital divide issues. Collaboration can take many forms including non-cash resources such as voluntary labour and energy expertise and advice.
Other groups who are taking part in the working group are set out below:
Corporate and Peak Bodies Community Government and other
Cisco Systems The Inspire Foundation National Office for the Information Economy
IBM Australia Work Ventures Department of Family and Community Services
Microsoft Australia Technical Aid for the Disabled NSW Premiers Department
Ericsson The Smith Family Centre for Community Network, Monash
Compaq Infoxchange Vicnet
Qld University of Technology
Telstra Our Community Communications Law Centre
Internet Industry Association Pro Bono Australia
Australian Information Industry Association Social Entrepreneurs Network
What constitutes a Digital Divide project?
The term, Digital Divide, is frequently used to define the barriers experienced by particular sections of the population, certain communities and individuals or specific types of organisations, in accessing and/or effectively using information technology.
Examples of those who experience inadequate access or poor use, include:
population groups who already experience significant levels of social disadvantage, such as people with disabilities, the long term unemployed, people from non English speaking backgrounds and indigenous people
people and organisations in rural and remote communities
small business and non profit community organisations with few resources to build IT capacity
older people who may be fearful of information technology.
Digital Divide projects generally aim to reduce or eliminate such barriers to access and effective use, and hence, improve the longer-term adequacy and quality of IT experience for the group, community, individual or organisation it targets.
Alice Cahill says several projects have already been loaded onto the Digital Dividend.org site under “Oceania”. Some examples of current projects include a networking neighbourhoods project to provide Internet access and training to housing commission residents, computers on loan to disabled people in their homes, and developing an educational web site based on the Learning For Life program.
The Federal Government is already using the Digital Dividend.org site to showcase its Networking the Nation project started back in 1999 and to date is providing funding for regional, rural and remote communities to the tune of around $400 million. The aim is to improve communication services through Internet access and online facilities.
For more information about how to participate go to Positive Outcomes’ website at www.positiveoutcomes.com.au or call Alice Cahill on (02) 9705 7456 or go directly to Digital Dividend at www.ditigaldividend.organd load your project onto the site