Digital Divide and Social Inclusion (IV): Trends and advances before the digital divide: assessment systems and good practices

Notes from the first II Conferencia Internacional Brecha Digital e Inclusión Social (II International Conference on the Digital Divide and Social Inclusion held at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid will be hosting at their campus in Leganés (Spain) on October 28th to 30th, 2009.

Parallel session: Trends and advances before the digital divide: assessment systems and good practices
Moderator: Ana María Morales García, Professor at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Subdirector of the Instituto Universitario Agustín Millares

Project Andalucía Compromiso Digital. A volunteering project to bring ICTs to the andalusian society
Miryam Jiménez

After deploying telecentres through the Guadalinfo project, some people would still not access the Internet. Among other reasons, lack of someone to guide them through would be a major issue. Thus why Andalucía Compromiso Digital, so that volunteers would accompany people on their way towards the Information Society. The volunteering part is, undoubtedly, the new and important part in this digital inclusion project.

Digital guiding is not a technical service, a course, a workshop, or a visit. Is the way volunteers offer their own help and knowledge so that participants in the project approach ICTs.

Guiding can be accessed both at telecentres (Guadalinfo Centres, ICT Centres, libraries) and at home.

The volunteer, more than a technologist, is a person that tries to find out the needs of the user and humanizes the technology, raising awareness, improving skills.

And not only citizens, but private organizations also take part in the project. Not only by sponsoring, but sharing the goals, contributing to the diffusion of the project and, especially, by participating with corporate volunteering.

The project also has some shared resources on a website: training resources, intranet for the volunteers, coordination site for the managers, a call-centre, etc.

More than 1,000 volunteers that have performed more than 34,000 guiding actions.

Good practices in Technological Literacy to bridge the digital divides from Extremadura to Latin America
Evangelina Sánchez

Main goals of the initial plan in Extremadura (Spain, late 1990s): connectivity in all towns and technological literacy for all citizens. Based in free software and training.

Next step: technological cooperation with Latin America, sharing the model based in technological literacy and free software as a locomotive for development. Main tools have been workshops and training sessions which take place online (first with Claroline, now with Moodle).

7 basic gnuLinEx (their own Linux distro) workshops, 2 advanced on gnuLinEx and 2 training-for-trainers courses, followed by more than 1,000 in many countries in Latin America.

In 2008 the Red Iberoamericana para la Cooperación Technologica was created to bring to another level the cooperation between organizations and countries. The Red de Centros de Desarrollo Regional Piri-Inchalá followed to share good practices in telecentres. Red de Mujeres Ciudadanas focuses on the gender divide.

Analyses of Intelligent Community Centres as a public policy to bridge the digital divide in Costa Rica.
Elena Jara Gómez

34% of computers at home, 14% of homes connected.

Intelligent Community Centres: labs placed in strategic communities to foster inclusion, managed by local institutions and coordinated by the Ministry of Communications, Industry and Technology. Goals:

  • universal access,
  • achieve higher quality of life by means of ICTs,
  • strengthen citizen participation,
  • empower citizenry with ICTs.

Indeed, e-government services will become the driver through which to catalyse the effective usage of ICTs and actually engage in an active citizenship.

Media treatment of the digital divide in Spain. An analysis of its reference in mass media.
María Cristina Pinto Arboleda.

The media have been transforming the language used to refer to the digital divide, the lack of access to ICTs, etc. But langauge should be homogeneous so that decision-taking happens on a common ground. So, international reports and local newspapers were analysed to map the different concepts around the phenomenon of the digital divide. Indeed, along with the concepts also initiatives to legitimize certain approaches were also analysed.

Initially, the term was about digital access, while now it is a much more complex term, not as much as related to a tool, as with empowerment.

Methodology strongly relying on mass media communication, political communication, discourse analysis, etc. Some of the most interesting topics around the treatment of the digital divide are related with advertising or with myths and metaphors.

Three main groups: Related with ICTs, Related with technologies in general, Related with rights in general. And also related with the structure, the infrastructure and the superstructure.

The term digital divide was related to technological infrastructure; development; exclusion; and the Information Society. And quite often, it was dealt as a very generic concept, without details of the context.

Normally, the relevance of the public factor (e.g. the government) was overwhelming. This meant that the message comes in a quite top-down manner and with lack of debate. It is a very superstructural discourse, very ideological, without practices or applications.

Building a concept of the Digital Divide: Equipment + development + modernization = (- social exclusion) and the Information Society.

Towards a comprehensive model of the Digital Economy
Ismael Peña-López

Please see http://ictlogy.net/?p=2852#hacia

Measuring digital development for policy-making: the role of the Government
Ismael Peña-López

Please see http://ictlogy.net/?p=2852#midiendo


Spanish telecentre portals in 2009: new paradigm for social inclusion
Ana Mª Morales García; Belén Pérez Lorenzo; Fátima García López; Mª Teresa Monje Jiménez

Hypothesis: telecentres are not only educational centres, but drivers of change and progress. What are the characteristics of these telecentres and their services? How to assess them?

Create a set of indicators about the usage of services in telecentres (including all kind of public access points to the Internet).

Before 2002, telecentres last 2 o 3 years maximum, as that was what funding last. From then on, sustainability was taken into account so that they could be established for the long run. Telecentres in Spain skyrocketed from circa 75 in 2002 to more than 6500 in 2008. But there are 14 different telecentre networks in Spain. Why not a single one? There is, nevertheless, a Community of telecentre networks. And the Spanish government is diffusing a catalogue of possible services that telecentres can offer.

This catalogue will be used to build a set of indicators to assess the performance of telecentres, especially in issues related with usage and grouped in categories: e-Administration, e-Learning, e-Banking, e-Health, e-Commerce, internet and Technology, information and services for the citizen, search of information, jobs and employment, etc.

These indicators have also been grouped according to performance criteria: availability, adequacy of services for the user, relationship with other organizations, etc.

More information

II International Conference on the Digital Divide and Social Inclusion (2009)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2009) “Digital Divide and Social Inclusion (IV): Trends and advances before the digital divide: assessment systems and good practices” In ICTlogy, #73, October 2009. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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