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!
A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
Urbanization to convert 300,000 km2 of prime croplands
27.12.2016 | Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) gGmbH
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction