Hot topics of NetHui 2017: Digital Divides

One of those is Digital Divides.

Despite ever greater leaps forward in Internet infrastructure, there are still thousands of New Zealanders that want to be online but that aren’t. That can be for a variety of reasons - maybe they can’t afford connectivity; maybe they don’t know how to use the tech confidently; maybe there are language and cultural issues; maybe they are differently abled and the Internet doesn’t work for them;. Maybe too they share connectivity with others in their household because they don’t have it themselves. Maybe they’re wholly reliant on places like public libraries.

Regardless of these maybes, all of these things combine to create a group of New Zealanders that are unable to share in exploring the benefits and uses of greater Internet connectivity. And that seems a damn shame.

 

This is a particularly potent time for the Internet community to come together and discuss these challenges. Why? Because the main problem isn’t infrastructure anymore - or it won’t be soon. I know that may seem like a bold call, but when you have fibre being built out to 87% of the population by 2022, and better rural connectivity coming soon, then the for most New Zealanders the challenge isn’t going to be “the Internet isn’t here yet” but something completely different.

 

So how do we solve for that? Well, that’s exactly what these NetHui sessions are going to try and tackle:

  • Identifying and Bridging Digital Divides: What's a Digital Divide? Is it about making sure everyone, everywhere can buy Internet access? Is it about affordability? What about the skills to use the Internet? Or access for those with disabilities? Access in languages other than English? Join the session and tell us what you think a Digital Divide is, and how you think it can be bridged.

  • The Universal Acceptance Project: The Universal Acceptance (UASG.TECH) is a project that aims to make developers aware that domain names and email addresses are no longer restricted to English characters.

  • Digital Literacy Special Interest Group & Forum: Digital Divides may relate to access to technology, or access to skills, or deliberate and non-deliberate disconnections from digital engagement.  Digital literacy touches on all of these aspects and is becoming a key component of societal engagement in Aotearoa today.

  • Digital Inclusion, literacy and education: Key themes to be explored here are defining digital literacy; the importance of digital inclusion; how to develop key, transferable, digital literacy skills; the relationship between digital literacy and other literacies, and the role of civic organisations in promoting digital inclusion and contributing to digital literacy.

  • Rural Connectivity: The goal of this session is to bring together people involved and/or interested in the possibilities allowed by 5G wireless and Internet access technologies for rural regions. The motivation is to share perspectives, discuss the government’s planned solutions (RBI2 and UFB2), and most importantly, to build a networked community that benefits all New Zealanders.

Would you like your voice to be heard about the Digital Divide challenge and potential solutions? Would you like to join with other people who are working now to address and challenge that Digital Divide? Would you like to learn more from other people around the Internet community about what’s happening?

Whatever answer is relevant to you, you need to be at NetHui next week. Get your registration in now, and we will see you at the Aotea Centre in Auckland on Thursday and Friday.