Govt eyes net to bridge digital divide

State Services Commission e-government head Brendan Boyle says a project on 'digital divide' issues being run by the Labour department will look into issues of internet access, but it is at an early stage.

State Services Commission e-government head Brendan Boyle says a project on "digital divide" issues being run by the Labour department will look into issues of internet access, but it is at an early stage.

The digital divide project involves a multi-agency steering group including a representative from the e-government unit.

Labour department senior policy analyst Michael Hampl says the group gave an interim report to government earlier this month. This provided some advice on the nature of the issue and what's already being done, he says. New Zealand is behind a lot of other countries on the digital divide front.

"We don't have any policy in place. A lot of countries already have a [government-supported] strategy involving elements like community access points and training resources. Some have announced huge investments. But at least we've started talking about it. And there are things happening in New Zealand, but most of these would have happened anyway [without government involvement]."

The next stage is to consider appropriate policy initiatives and partnerships between government and other "stakeholders", Hampl says.

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