Recently I came across the term ‘Digital Inclusion’ and though it is not hard to decipher the definition of the term from the words “digital” which means via technology and “inclusion” means connecting all. A search for the definition of the term fetched me a few insightful explanations which enhanced my understanding of why the term was being promoted by all concerned authorities and bodies. While NDIA emphasizes that, “Digital Inclusion refers to the activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies,” Infoxchange has provided a simpler explanation for the much talked about term as “digital inclusion is using technology as a means to create social inclusion. To build a digitally inclusive community, people from all walks of life need to have access to affordable broadband and devices (digital access), have the right skills and confidence to use the internet (digital literacy), and be able to use technology to improve their quality of life and get out of poverty (digital enablement).
While it is natural for those who do online activities to assume that almost every individual is using internet and are connected via technology, we need to be aware of the digital divide caused by affordability and other factors. According to a study conducted by Telstra, three million Australians are not using online services and for those who are connected they do not know how to take full advantage of the available facilities. In this Digital/Information Age, even government organisations such as tax office, Centrelink, Medicare/health, besides educational services are established online.
What steps are being taken to minimise the divide? What is the future of Digital inclusion? The Government is trying to enhance access to digital services by rolling out NBN to all premises and by improving mobile coverage through Mobile Black spot program. In order to reach out to all members in all communities, programs such as Be connected, Women in Stem, Low Income Measures Assessing Committee, Health Care Homes etc has been implemented and very soon there would be increased engagement on online services. Isn’t it wonderful to know that the quality of life in future would be much better than it is today?