The Covid-19 pandemic generated an environment of greater complexity and difficulties to achieve digital inclusion, which is why several specialists indicated the need to ensure Internet connectivity. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 63% of young people do not have Internet for daily use. This factor complicates both their education and their inclusion in the labor market. However, this health crisis also drove digital acceleration in various platforms and countries, where 87% of organizations transformed their business model and technologies to the digital scheme.
Research conducted by Pew Research Center indicated that access to high-speed connectivity in less urbanized areas continues to be a barrier to digital inclusion. According to this center, during the first quarter of 2021, only 63% of Americans in rural regions have broadband internet, and in other countries, the figures show worse results. According to ITU, this is because, in less industrialized and urbanized countries, broadband connectivity can cost 18 times more, both for organizations and users.
According to specialists from the World Economic Forum (WEF), an effective measure to implement technology and reduce the digital access gap is to promote an alliance between the public and private sectors. Panelists consulted by this group indicated that the unified work between private business models and public policies is beginning to yield better inclusion results worldwide. This concerns internet connection, higher speed, and the complete infrastructure that facilitates the acquisition of electronics and the knowledge to use them. According to Pew Research Center specialists, 29% of adults in rural areas of the United States consider government involvement essential to ensure access to the Internet and digital tools.
Another critical factor in digital inclusion is to make the same research and publishing platforms accessible to specialists and scientists in vulnerable regions. Research conducted by the journal PLOS Biology reported that at least 1,234 biodiversity studies conducted in languages that do not include English are ignored due to the accessibility gap. Technology-focused on inclusion for non-English speakers means making education and jobs more accessible for professionals in various research areas, the study added.
The WEF concluded that it has a major economic impact, in addition to the educational and employment opportunities of leveraging technology and connectivity to bridge the digital divide. In the case of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), this increases with access to connectivity, and in regions such as Southeast Asia, the figures are between 7.5 billion dollars and 10 billion dollars.