Report takes stock of digital divide

A government report on the 'digital divide' is heavy on 'stocktaking' of what has been done so far in terms of policy.

A government report on the “digital divide” is heavy on “stocktaking” of what has been done so far in terms of policy. The moves towards policy, however, are preliminary.

The “stocktake” emphasises the point that government is “not starting from zero” on the task.

“A lot is already being done, both within government and in the rest of the country, which can be built on,” the report, released last week, says. “What this suggests is that a policy response to closing the digital divide needn’t be just government putting a lot of money into new initiatives. There are a lot of worthwhile things already happening that government may be able to support and build on, without needing to reinvent the wheel.”

More substantial pronouncements in the policy direction are due in May, when officials are expected to have reported back to ministers Paul Swain (IT) and Steve Maharey (Social Services and Employment) with a strategy document. Computerworld understands Swain, in particular, is keen to advance this deadline and push the matter on as quickly as possible.

The report places considerable emphasis on current and possible future skills building initiatives, from education through immigration to the broad ranging “e-commerce strategy” conceived by the Ministry of Economic Development. This last includes some …initiatives … also relevant to closing the digital divide, particularly in the area of building capability.”

Attention will also be given, however to access to equipment and software, with a suggestion that Government departments set up a more formal policy

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