But a five-year, eight-country study recently concluded by the Technology & Social Change Group at the University of Washington Information School has found that community access to computer and Internet technology remains a crucial resource for connecting people to the information and skills they need in an increasingly digital world.
“Our study finds that many people in low- and middle-income countries, including the underemployed, women, rural residents and other who are often marginalized, derive great benefits in such areas as education, employment and health when they use computers and the Internet at public access venues,” said Araba Sey, Information School research assistant professor and lead investigator of the study.
The Global Impact Study of Public Access to Information & Communication Technologies surveyed 5,000 computer users at libraries, telecenters and cybercafés and 2,000 nonusers at home to learn about patterns of public access use.
The researchers also surveyed 1,250 operators of public access venues and conducted seven in-depth case studies to examine issues that have generated controversy. The study was conducted in eight low- and middle-income countries on three continents: Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Ghana, Lithuania, Philippines and South Africa.
The researchers’ findings include:
Public access venues were the only source of the Internet for one-third of users surveyed, and provided the first-ever computer contact for more than half of those users — a number that rose among lower socioeconomic groups and female populations.
More than half said their use of computers would decrease if public access venues were no longer available, and about half cited a lack of computer access as their main reason for using public venues.
Forty percent of users surveyed said public access venues had been crucial to their development of computer skills, and half said the same of learning Internet skills.
The study’s final report also makes recommendations for government and donor organizations as well as libraries and telecenter practitioners. Their suggestions include:
Support the wide availability of public Internet access venues and incorporate them into national initiatives involving digital resources and services for health, education, governance and other areas.
Use existing infrastructure such as libraries when considering investments in public Internet access.
Embrace games, as they help build technology skills.
Value the role of social networking and communication, which have become critical venues for accessing important resources.
Embrace the use of mobile phones, which the study found do not pose a threat to the relevance of public access.
Chris Coward, director of the Technology & Social Change Group, said the motivation of the study was “to provide governments and the international development community, which have expended tremendous amounts to support the availability of computers and Internet, with empirical evidence about what types of impacts have resulted from these investments.”
The researchers have made all the data from this study publicly available for others to use on the project website, www.globalimpactstudy.org.
The Global Impact Study of Public Access to Information & Communication Technologies was funded by Canada’ s International Development Research Centre and a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
For more information or interviews, contact Coward at 206-437-4592 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Sey at 206-685-3724 or email@example.com.
Peter Kelley | EurekAlert!
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
20.09.2017 | Life Sciences
20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy