Digital divide and its implication for China

Introduction

There are so many definitions about the digital divide ; this article uses the definition of NTIA ( National Telecommunications and Information Administration ) , which defines it as follow: The digital divide is the spread between people with effectual entree to digital and information engineering and those with really limited or no entree at all. It includes the instabilities in physical entree to engineering every bit good as the instabilities in resources and accomplishments needed to efficaciously take part as a digital citizen. It is the unequal entree by some members of society to information and communicating engineering, and the unequal acquisition of related accomplishments.

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Based on the apprehension of the definition of the digital divide, most bookmans tends to split it into two types: The first 1 is the planetary digital divide, which refers to the information disparity exists between states. The 2nd 1 is the national digital divide, which means information difference exists among crowds within one state, such as regional digital divide, gender digital divide and so on. This article is taking at the 2nd type.

Influence of the digital divide

Being of the digital divide means that the information-poor are unable to utilize tool of digital age and ca n’t bask production in the information epoch. There are so many unfairnesss during information entree and usage procedure, every bit good as an “ information poorness ” phenomenon. Because of lacking of indispensable informations, these people bit by bit being marginalized and become information vulnerable group. The information-poor portion different chance with the information-rich in the field of income distribution, instruction, employment every bit good as single development, which bit by bit lead to “ Matthews Effect ” . The consequence will widen the spread between the rich and the hapless in economic and trigger societal discontent, which could jeopardize the societal stableness and increase societal exposure.

Digital divide in the United States and the steps adopted by the US Government

Digital divide in the United States

Informationization degree in the USA is in the front ranks in the universe, but there are stills tonss of people are in information disadvantage, and the United States is confronting the digital divide as other states as good. The “ national broadband web programs consumer study ” issued by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission ( FCC ) in 2010 shows that 93 million Americans ( one tierce of the U.S. population ) have no household high-velocity cyberspace connexion.

Take the cyberspace entree for case, grounds lead to information poorness and the digital divide in the United States can be included in the undermentioned chart ( chart1 ) :

Chart 1:

ground

description

informations

Differences in affordability

no entree to broadband due to high cost

Account for 63 % of non-broadband users

Differences in income

low-income households whose one-year family income & lt ; 20,000 $

40 % entree to broadband

high-income households whose Annual household income & gt ; 75,000 $

91 % entree to broadband

Age differences

proportion of the ole over 65-year get

entree to the cyberspace

35 %

information accomplishments

Missing the indispensable accomplishments to acquire assess to the cyberspace

Account for 22 % of non-broadband users

Information Consciousness

Keep the position that the cyberspace have nil to make with their day-to-day life

Account for 19 % of non-broadband users

Ethnicity

African American and Latino American ‘s chance to acquire assess to the cyberspace is limited

Returns 40 % of the chance that the white race can acquire assess to the cyberspace

The steps adopted by the US Government

In response to above status, U.S. authorities took a batch of effectual steps to cover with the digital divide, which can be briefly summarized as the model- “ authorities counsel, enterprise engagement “ .

Issued particular strategy and increase the fiscal support

The White House issued a plan named “ From Digital Divide to Digital Opportunity ” in 2000, which proposed the new budget of extinguishing the digital divide by supplying $ 20 billion gross to promote private sector to take part in the plan ; it besides supplied $ 380 million to animate public-private sector ‘s cooperation.

Besides the authorities budget, the Technology Opportunities Program ( TOP ) by National Telecommunications and Information Administration ( NTIA ) provided $ 1.35 billion federal subsidize from 1994 to 1999, in add-on to $ 339 million entire investing.

Obama passed an economic stimulation program with entire investing of $ 787 billion, which foregrounding the “ American Broadband Plan ” whose subject is “ connect the United States ” , taking at cut downing the digital divide and bettering the overall degree of U.S. information engineering. So that information and communicating engineering ( ICT ) existent benefits the populace and national economic development.

Government-oriented and act as the leader to bridge the digital divide

The United States has set up authorities web site called “ span the digital divide ” indicating out the importance of the digital chance for all Americans. All degrees of authorities sections and functionaries actively involved in this run and playing as the leader. The address delivered by the Former President Clinton in the White house advocated full Internet entree within schools, communities and households ; Clinton besides did a “ New Market Tour ” -aim of which is to alter the digital divide into digital opportunity-the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Education, Department of Commerce and so many other sections are actively involved in it.

Barack Obama set October 2009 as the national literacy month, and he besides applied for a budget of $ 265,556 million for the national Museum and Library in financial twelvemonth 2010.

Legal and institutional precautions

The U.S. authorities has promulgated series of Torahs, including “ National Information Infrastructure: Guideline of Action ” , “ Freedom of Information Act ” , “ E-Government Act ” , etc. These Torahs protect the populace to derive public information efficaciously and put a comprehensive legal footing for contracting the digital divide.

Under the protection of the Torahs, the U.S. authorities established engineering centres in urban and rural communities throughout the state. And it besides increased investing in the proportion of federal budget. By community engineering centres, public libraries and other public establishments, American authorities provided entree to public services and on-line counsel.

Enterprises join in and play a nucleus function in bridging the digital divide

With the encouragement of authorities, more and more private endeavors support this undertaking by donating financess and equipments. Microsoft Corporation invested $ 550 million in Texas to construct new informations centre in 2009, through which supplying online service to the populace. HP funded $ 15 million to implement “ Digital Village Program ” to assist households, schools and community centres in low-income countries. America Online provided 10 million on-line histories to low-income households for free.

To develop information instruction

U.S. authorities pays great attending to engineering instruction and carried out a batch of particular undertakings and set computing machine in pilot schools taking at supplying kids from low-income, coloured race and cultural minority households with free instruction. To guarantee that these most easy overlooked information vulnerable group can catch up with the gait of technological development through instruction supplied by above plans. “ Knowledge River ” undertaking charged by Arizona State University is a good illustration, this undertaking taking at alteration the information vulnerable state of affairs of Latino Americans and Indian Americans by seeking public-private partnerships.

Deduction on how does our state to bridge the digital divide

Digital divide in our state

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In our state, the informationization is dining while the digital divide is going a block among people who are in different degree of informationization. The mammoth difference which are caused by the digital divide has became the inharmonious component in the “ harmonious society ” and is bit by bit going the 4th difference listed after the difference between town and countryside, difference between workers and provincials, difference between encephalon and organic structure. Therefore, the research on the digital divide is important for how to cut down the information poorness so as to accomplish the harmonious development of the economic system and our society.

The existent province of the digital divide in our county

The looks of the digital divide in our county are as follow. ( take the usage of cyberspace as an illustration to analysis )

Social digital Divide

Difference among part

The Eastern, Central, and Western are developing imbalanced from geographical location. The top is Beijing, Shanghai. Tianjin, Guangdong, Fujian states follow up. The medium is Shanxi, Jiangsu, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Shandong, Hainan, Hebei, Sichuan, and so on. The west part, Anhui and Henan state of the in-between part are on the lowest degree. It comes out that the informationization endowments in the south part are more than those in north part. Technology develops fastest in the municipality and in the developed West costal parts, in-between part ‘s development is in the following topographic point, and the western one is least developed. Expense on information in east part is more than that in west part. In this article, we will take figure of cyberspace users in typical states of different parts as an illustration. ( Chart 2 and chart 3 )

Chart 2:

Chart 3:

Year

State

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Number of cyberspace users in Guangdong Province

( ten 1000 )

1188

1486

1831

3344

4554

Number of cyberspace users in Hunan Province

( ten 1000 )

321

384

408

690

999

Number of cyberspace users in Yunnan Province

( ten 1000 )

206

241

275

303

548

Difference between metropolis and countryside

The large spread of information installation between metropolis and countryside is singular, which is the overpowering ground of this sort of digital divide. And the income difference is besides ineluctable.

In 2009, 72.2 % of townsman used the cyberspace, but in countryside the figure is merely 27.8 % . In 2007, merely 3.1 % of the countryside people used computing machines, and in the metropolis, this popularity rate is 20.2 % , which is 6.5 times of the former 1. Every 100 households in the metropolis have 47.2 computing machines. But in the countryside the figure is 2. The former is 17 times of the latter. In the metropolis, there are 152.2 cell phones in every 100 households, and the figure is about 2.5 times of the countryside.

Harmonizing to another research, in 2009, the mean disposable income of Beijing townsman is RMB26700 and the mean outgo is RMB 17900, but in countryside, annual mean net income of a household is RMB 12000, and RMB 9141 is paid for the day-to-day life. Income spread and substructure disagreement between urban and rural occupants resulted in immense diverseness of ownership of digital merchandise, which straight leads to bulky digital divide between metropolis and countryside.

Difference among people of high and low income ( Chart 4 )

Peoples can be divided into high, in-between and low degrees for their different application of digital. Chart 4 shows that among the high degree people whose lunar income above RMB5000, whose proportion of cyberspace users is non high. The in-between degree whose lunar income is 1000-5000yuan, the proportion of Internet users is about 50 % and tends to travel up. The low degree whose lunar income is below 1000 Yuan, the proportion is 40 % and is maintaining howling. It turns out to be that, on one manus, the income of the Chinese cyberspace user is low in China, on the other manus, use of cyberspace in people of the same income degree is different.

Chart 4:

Income ( Yuan/month )

& gt ; 8000

5001

-8000

3001-

5000

2001

-3000

1501-

2000

1001-

1500

501-

1000

& lt ; 500

& lt ; 0

Percentage of cyberspace users ( 2009 )

2.9 %

2.7 %

9.3 %

15.4 %

13.4 % i??

13.7 %

14.5 %

18.0 %

10.0 %

Percentage of cyberspace users ( 2010 )

1.9 %

2.9 %

8.0 %

13.7 %

13.8 %

16.0 %

16.2 %

26 %

1.5 %

( Note: There is no statistics informations of China ‘s entire population monthly income, so this graph can non demo the proportion of different income group in entire population. )

The digital divide among people of different instruction background ( chart 5 )

Chart 5:

The digital divide between people of different business

Among the full cyberspace user, the proportion of the pupil is high but it tends to travel down, and per centum of the husbandmans is traveling up a small. See the state of affairs as a whole, the bend can be pupil, material of the company, free-lance, non-employed people, officer, director, waitress and others.

Physical digital divide

Peoples of different age and sex have digital divide, besides among the normal and handicapped.

Age digital divide

Peoples below the age of 10 and above the age of 50 usage cyberspace a small. The proportion is merely 1.1 % and 6.4 % . Peoples above 30 old ages old history for a large weight of 38.5 % which is maintaining addition.

Gender digital divide

Gender is somehow influence people in acquiring and utilizing information in some grade. The male and female cyberspace user proportion is 54.2:45.8. The proportion of the female cyberspace user is lower than proportion of female in the whole population.

Digital divide between the normal and handicapped people

Because of the restriction of physical, the handicapped semen across ineluctable problem during communicating service, therefore the digital divide exists between the normal and handicapped people appears. Harmonizing to the position, there are 82 million and 960 1000 handicapped people in China, which takes up 6.34 % of the whole population and 260 million households, are involved. The handicapped are confronting challenge from themselves and the reverse of the society, so they are more breakability in forepart of the digital divide.

Other types of digital divide ( e.g. Metal digital divide )

Harmonizing to the chart 4, we can see that the information disadvantage and economical disadvantage have some relevant, but the association is n’t perfectly. So information vulnerable group is non equal to the traditional vulnerable group. In our state, there is one sort of particular information vulnerable group -people who are affluent in economic system but are hapless in how to acquire and utilize information. Component and ground of them are so complicated that we need analyze carefully.

In my sentiment, people ‘s nonsubjective sentiment on proficient information plays a critical function in this facet ; they think such technique is n’t relevant to their day-to-day life. It wo n’t impact the societal activity if they do non acquire information or are non able to acquire the information. It can be defined as mental digital divide which is result signifier this disadvantage of information.

Our work on how to contract the digital divide. ( take Yunnan state for illustration )

Our authorities already has taken a series of work against the digital divide. First, the cardinal authorities concerns this job and issued ” 2006-2020 National Informatization Development Strategies ” , which pointed out that the digital divide has become one of the six sever issues in China. Second, local authoritiess have taken some effectual solutions. Take Yunnan state as illustration, they opened up the authorities information question system, authorities online solution system and interaction system with the populace. Furthermore, all sorts of endeavor are involved in supplying merchandises, engineering, capital, equipment, etc. For case, in Yunnan Province, New Rural Cooperative Medicare Management System ( NCMS ) flat is constructed by IBM. Nonetheless, contracting digital spread in our state is still a large challenge ; the attack of the U.S. authorities is utile mention for usage.

deduction for China

hold a clear apprehension of the digital divide

Although the digital divide brings tonss of negative impact to the development of society, we ca n’t see it as a monster. Continue from China ‘s conditions ; bridging the digital divide will coexist with chances and challenges. So in the presence of challenges, it ‘s besides necessary for us to hold on the chances. Chinese authorities should make their best to better the information substructure so that all citizens can bask the chances accompany with revolution of information and communicating substructure. In order to alter “ digital divide ” into “ digital chance ” at last.

In add-on, we should recognize that the digital divide is non merely a proficient inquiry, but besides a deep-seated job that hinder behind social-economic and institutional development. So bridging it will be a systematic undertaking. To such a complex issue, what we need is a full scope of vision. Improvement of information substructure is the cardinal point, but non means it ‘s the exclusive point. It ‘s incorrect to disregard political, economic, cultural and societal factors during the decrease of digital divide.

Pay Attention to information vulnerable group and supply them with particular information service

Put sensible place for information vulnerable group

Reasonable place for information vulnerable group is the primary premiss during the procedure of providing particular information service. At present, information vulnerable group in China are chiefly divided by economic criterion. Information service operators set countries as categorization standards when supply goods. ( E.g. information vulnerable groups in Yunnan state are divided into A, B, C categories harmonizing to varies of economic state of affairs ) . One drawback in presently step is that most of related sections tend to believe information vulnerable group merely exists in rural, and even be them with husbandmans, while disregarding diverseness of it, such as discharged workers in metropoliss, the handicapped, and supra mentioned people who good at economic position but weak in information, etc. This sort of orientation is in deficiency of reason ; all factors should be taken into consideration and usage scientific measuring to sort mark groups of information.

Provide particular information service for information vulnerable group

The being of information vulnerable group leads to information spread to a great extent, so deal with the job of them is important nexus in the work of bridging digital divide. Nowadays, centre of this work is advancing agribusiness and rural informatization. Because of lacking of applicability in concrete occupation, disadvantaged group do non given particular information service, and service they received mostly belongs to mass- telecommunication service. Most husbandmans, particularly husbandmans in undeveloped countries ca n’t derive informations from cyberspace. In developed rural countries, use of cyberspace for husbandmans is limited in amusement, utile use such as on-line instruction, on-line medical, and e-government history for few proportions. The application state of affairs is far from existent demand.

Therefore, what we need to make is concern about existent demands of the disadvantaged group and change by reversal current state of affairs, and assist them in facets of information substructure, equity of information proviso, pertinence of information engineering, etc. On the other manus, when mass- telecommunication service is supplied, related sections should supply targeted services to information vulnerable group at the same clip, which will be greatly encourage enthusiasm of them and will be benefit to contract the digital divide.

Lead by authorities non rely on it entirely

Insist on authorities ‘s dominant place

As the centre of all societal activities, authorities has unsurmountable authorization. It ‘s authorities ‘s duty and duty to guarantee all citizens to bask the chance in information society and to assist vulnerable group out of information poorness. On the one manus, merely if authorities ‘s dominant place is insisted, authorities can hold on way of the informatization building in the whole. On the other manus, authorities information accessibleA toA the populace and development of e-government will besides advance the informatization of the whole society. Compared with the U.S. authorities, our authorities ‘s prima position is non really clear. Chinese authorities released a figure of occupational codifications, which are excessively general and deficiency of manoeuvrability.

Not rely on the authorities entirely

After all, authorities resources are limited ; therefore lead by authorities does n’t intend depend on it merely. Similarly, we can pull lessons from the United States` experience. Make full usage of resources of endeavors and other societal organisations by let go ofing some policies and steps to promote their engagement in bridging digital divide. Open information marketization and industrialisation theoretical account. The scheme of “ invest foremost and pay after ” ( a sort of BOT manner ) in the field of information substructure is widespread. It is a good illustration of utilizing power of endeavors and societal organisations. This sort of investing manner can non merely introduce capital of endeavors to cut down authorities ‘s fiscal force per unit area, but besides the nidation of enterprises` engineering will greatly excite development of information industry. BOT manner creates favourable status to endeavors every bit good as to the state, and surely will speed up the velocity of bridging the digital divide.

Notes

adhere to the rule of giving consideration to both equity and efficiency

The cardinal point of bridging the digital divide is how to cover with the relationship of efficiency and equity in authorities policy. From equity facet, the authorities must pay attending to the grade when usage of market forces. The authorities is responsible for the proviso of basic public information services, but should n’t present excessively many market forces. Excessive societal forces must bewray cardinal democratic citizenship. On the other manus, blind chase of equity will decelerate down the gait of bridging on the whole, so efficiency must be taken into consideration. This non merely requires authorities ‘s bundle of planning, but besides a series of local governments` back uping steps. In short, equity and efficiency is an entireness of contradictory in the procedure of run. It is necessary to prevail in the rule of balance relationship of them.

adhere to the rule of combine market opening with governmental ordinance

For on thing, out of inquiry, we must cut down the costs of the public entree to information in order to bridge the digital divide, which requires opening up the telecommunications markets. Pressing undertaking for our authorities now is to interrupt the monopoly of China telecom and to advance competition among providers. Let more small-and -medium -sized endeavors enter the telecom market will convey approximately more information substructure and service of high quality and low monetary value.

For another, due to spontaneousness of market, liberalisation and marketization of China telecom market needs governmental ordinance. Pure legal and economic environment can be supplied by ordinance of authorities, which is helpful to take down the threshold for market entry of small-and -medium -sized endeavors. Supervision from authorities can efficaciously cut down market failures and avoid monopoly and inefficiency of market, and the supervising is besides necessary to guarantee information provided by operators to be green, healthy and legitimate.

Carry out Omni directional measuring of information poorness alleviation, including supply hardware and package support

Omni directional step of information poorness alleviation helps the deprived group to entree information by larning communicating engineering, which surely will ease the inequality of information skill to a certain extent. The step besides will increase their enthusiasm of utilizing information to go rich, and comprehensive information poorness alleviation will be more valuable than fiscal aid. Omni directional step of information poorness includes four parts.

Invest capital

First, construct of Universal telecom Service should be established and it is need for the authorities to put up particular telecommunication fund. Second, China authorities must do full usage of societal resources to broaden capital beginning through multiple channels. Third, it is pressing for our state to take portion in the motion of related international organisations in order to utilize international financess to the greatest advantage.

Material investing

It chiefly refers to optimise the investing of information substructure. At present, there are still unsighted musca volitanss of information substructure in rural and distant countries, take Dulong small town in Yunnan state for illustration, this small town ca n’t entree to communications because of its complicated landform. In this sort of countries, traditional method of overseas telegram coverage to carry through the demands of information substructure is unrealistic, in this instance, we can utilize wireless mode to recognize full coverage. For case, via 3G phone to cover with the job. In add-on, there is a waste of resource in basic information services provided now, for illustration, in Yunnan Province, all telecom operators exploited concerns for husbandmans, such as “ agricultural ICT ” of China Mobile and “ new rural concern cards ” of China Unicom. This sort of redundant undertaking sometimes puzzled famers as they have no thought about which 1 is better and which one can supply them with more utile information. Purchase same nature of service is impracticable for that will increase costs for entree to information. In position of bing state of affairs, it is necessary to study use of different information substructure, in order to better allocate efficiency of available resources through incorporating telecommunications web, computing machine web with overseas telegram telecasting web. Integration of three webs will work their ain peculiar advantages for common benefit and development. Merely if above actions are taken harmonizing to existent demand and carried out in sensible order, building of information substructure can be improved genuinely.

Invest human resources

Capital and Material are merely external factors, high-quality information human resources is the cardinal warrant.

The first contemplation is the defectiveness of CIO ( main information officer ) system. As nucleus sector of modern authorities, information centre in China authorities is separated with mainstream sections and workers in the centre are non listed within authorities system. There are many defects about direction of CIO, direction system is non clear plenty and governments are in confusion, which severely shake authorities ‘s prima place in bridging the digital divide. Therefore, we must better CIO system, concentrating on the invention of related systems and heighten research on CIO ‘s map, establishment and quality.

Information endowments are besides in deficit in basic unit. Although some countries ( such as Yunnan Province ) equipped with information services counsellor, existent demand can non be satisfied as good. We can seek some undertaking similar as “ knowledge river “ mentioned above, make full usage of universities and research institutes to develop information professionals and popularise information accomplishments and cognition by preparation and back uping plans, so that information vulnerable group can raise their information accomplishment and change their predicament. Writer of this paper suggest that authorities may seek to put one information officer in every grassroots degree and found information service Stationss at the small town degree. The pupil small town functionaries can be in charge of the direction and operations of the Stationss. Hardware equipment in information service Stationss can be supplied by the authorities, telecom operator, maker and small town themselves together. Through the hardware connect with cyberspace to provide on-line services about instruction, employment, wellness attention and others. Knowledge advantage of pupil small town functionaries should be exerted and see them as CIO of rural so that they can publicise cognition of information and transport out information instruction. In the aftermath of the pupil small town functionaries become “ seeding machine ” of rural informationization, job of “ the last stat mi ” will be solved.

Policy investing

Successful experience of the United States mostly depends on exterior legal environment. At present, state Torahs and policies are non perfect. What the informationization building implemented the good countries chiefly depends is the leading ‘s accent and authorization, that is a existent “ figure one ” undertaking, and there is the phenomenon of “ The policy implemented every bit shortly as the individual is on the place ; the policy abolished every bit shortly as the individual gone ” , which necessarily impedes the procedure of bridging. Therefore, the Chinese authorities ‘s pressing affair is to explicate the executive ordinance to do the informationization institutionalized and normalized, and set up similar CIO system in assorted sections to make the favourable institutional environment for particular work.

Emphasis on the combination of theory and pattern, researching long-run mechanism in bridging digital divide

Digital divide is a new issue emerges in information age. By and large talking, there is comparatively small experience exist for us, so it is hard to happen the optimized solution. Although series of plans have been put into pattern already, our state has non yet formed long-run mechanism. Therefore, it is necessary to beef up theoretical researches and unite them with pattern. Through interaction between society, endeavor and cardinal and local authoritiess, we explore long-run operating mechanism of “ conducted by authorities and acquire involved by multi-stakeholder ” .

Decisions

In decision, as to the experience of the U.S. authorities in covering with digital divide, we should hold on two facets. On the one manus, learn successful experience of foreign states as lessons is necessary ; on the other manus, we must acknowledge that there is no fixed form to work out the job. How to guarantee all degree of multi-stakeholders` engagement and cooperation is really of import. We must do clear that the status of our state is different from the one of United States, and we besides confront to the restriction of so many nonsubjective factors. Experience of U.S. ca n’t be copied wholly. The right attack is to larn its kernel through designation. at Grasp Chinese specific world from the high angle of scheme and put to death bluish print which is appropriate to China status and run into the populace ‘s demands.

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