The potencials of infosystem and communication technologies (ICT) in ensuring equity of access to information for all in the digital society: a comparative analysis of the developed and developing countries

M. Suriya


Access to information and technologies is highly unequal in different geographic regions and social groups. This inequality contributes to increasing the gap between those who have access to abundant information resources and those who are deprived of this access, thus reinforcing the marginalization that already exists in terms of development and technical resources. One of the main challanges facing the digital society is to look for new strategies and techniques that would facilitate equitable access to information far the entire human community without any disparity and discrimination. The present study attempts to analyse the extent to which infosystem and the advancements in the ICTs work together to achieve the target of reaching every one in the society. It identifies the socio-economic and technological barriers that affect the quick and efficient transfer of information among millions of users around the world. It examines the existing gap in providing access to information and technology and suggest measures for bridging the gap in communication. It focusses on the necessity for collaborative relationships and the twinning programmes among the various institutions involved in the generation, processing and distribution of information. The 'entropy measures' and the 'information imperative index' are computed to evaluate the existing ICT potentials of the 50 countries drawn from different socio­ economic background. These measures would bring out not only the strength and weakness of the existing ICT infrastructure of the sample countries, but also throws light on the different ICT categories viz: (i)social infrastructure, (ii) information infrastructure, and (iii) computer and network infrastructure. The variables selected for this study include: (i) news paper readership, (ii) secondary and tertiary education, (iii) telephone lines/households,(iv) cellular phones per capita,(v) radio and television ownership percapita, (vi) personal computers percapita, (vii) IT investment, and (viii) percentage of network connected. This index values could be adopted both to identify the ICT status of the individual countries and to 'benchmark' the progress achieved by them in providing access to information. The entropy measure is calculated by using the formula H(x) = Xi log 1/Xi and this is adopted to identify the diversification of ICT variables among the sample regions. The information Imperative Index (Ill) is calculated for the countries individually by adopting the formula: llli = Hi[Ii + (1 - Ii ) Gi], and this involves the computation of three different measures namely (i) IT availability Ratio (Hi). (ii) IT gap Ratio (li) and (iii) Gini Ratio. By combining the values of these "Ratios" the Information Imperative lndex(lll) will be computed. This study would help the policy makers and the planners to decide the delivery mechanisms that have to be strengthened to improve access to larger community. The index that has been suggested in this study would be a handy tool for measuring the country's ability to access, adopt and absorb information and information technology. A periodical compilation of this index will not only reflect the progress of the countries in developing the IT variables but also show the gap that has been generated between the information 'haves' and havenots'. This report would trigger the nations to devise new strategies and policies to bridge the gap.

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