We believe in advancing communications technology to provide opportunity for everyone. We know that 43% of the world’s households lack Internet access. Geographic and demographic gaps in digital access create a global divide between the haves and have-nots.
While the digital divide has been a problem for decades, the current pandemic has exposed it in stark detail as the world tries to work, go to school and manage healthcare and other critical issues remotely.
We want to level the world’s digital playing field through programs and partnerships that improve connectivity. This is called digital inclusion, and it involves five key elements.
- Affordable, robust broadband Internet service
- Internet-enabled devices that meet users’ needs
- Digital literacy training
- Quality technical support
- Content to encourage self-sufficiency, participation and collaboration
To achieve our vision of a world in which everyone can create opportunity through the benefits of connectivity, we bring the technology and digital inclusion communities together to build tomorrow’s technology for the benefit of all.
The Marconi Society’s role in digital inclusion is to:
- Advocate for widespread broadband access to deliver the opportunities of the network to everyone.
- Celebrate and inspire innovators – both established luminaries and the world’s brightest young researchers – to create the technology that will connect everyone on the planet.
- Support aspiring engineers to solve problems that are critical in their communities using the power of the network.
Our Views on Digital Inclusion
Digital inclusion is about numbers. 43% of households globally do not have access to the Internet.
The problem is not confined to emerging countries. In the US, only 58% of blacks and 57% of Hispanics—compared to 82% of whites—report owning a desktop or laptop computer. The disparity in access by income level is equally alarming.
We routinely share stories on our blog about organizations and technical innovations that are tackling the digital divide. Our digital inclusion blog posts are here.
As a brain trust of those who created and are innovating the information and communications technology that serve us all today and in the future, the Marconi Society is uniquely positioned to facilitate tools and to offer technology expertise and policy guidance to drive digital inclusion.
Millions of dollars in federal assistance intended to close the digital divide are allocated each year based on incorrect or incomplete data about current broadband penetration. (Do we want this in here: This data is provided by Internet Service Providers who are incented to overstate broadband penetration.). The first step to creating digital inclusion in the US is to accurately identify areas that require investment. The Marconi Society is collaborating with organizations including the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) and X Lab to solve this problem.
Our initial project is called Digital Inclusion@Home and is designed to understand the impact that the increased load on the network associated with the pandemic has caused. This project will crowdsource information to give a granular look at how networks are performing throughout the country.
We are actively developing additional mapping tools and look forward to sharing those soon.
We work closely with government agencies and NGOs to educate, share ideas and lend our voices to efforts that will shape successful outcomes for advanced technology and digital inclusion. Our work includes:
- Participating with 200 other businesses and organizations to urge Congress to include access to affordable broadband in COVID-19 stimulus packages.
- Providing comments to the National Telecommunication and Information Association (NTIA) on priorities that advance international communications and information policies at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).