Makings of a digital society — educationWednesday, September 15, 2021
IN our introductory article, we outlined nine critical components of a digital society: Digital Etiquette, Digital Access, Digital Law, Digital Communication, Digital Literacy, Digital Commerce, Digital Rights & Responsibilities, Digital Privacy & Security, Digital Health & Wellness. These components are placed in one of three overarching categories: Respect, Educate, Secure.
As we continue our series this week, we need to ensure sufficient education and awareness around what is critical to function in a digital society. In the educate category, we will focus on Literacy, Communication and Commerce.
Digital Literacy creates a clear understanding of technology and how it can make things better. With a more precise sense, stakeholders and participants in the digital society can make better decisions when using online services or creating new products and services in the digital space. It will also promote more significant innovation as the demand for more digital services increases. It is, however, essential to ensure that literacy permeates all facets of society. As such, education and awareness must start in early childhood and extend to our senior citizens. A fundamental change is required in our education system to ensure that curricula facilitate this new paradigm. No one, young or old, must be left behind.
The Digital Communication component is the electronic exchange and sharing of information and data. In simple terms, this means that there must be ubiquitous access to broadband and frictionless exchange of electronic communication. We must get to the point where access to these services is a fundamental right.
Currently, Jamaica has two primary broadband service providers, but we are not yet at a point where all citizens and businesses can realise access to the services they provide. Interestingly, in 2021 although mobile connections represent 104% of the population (yes, many people still have more than one mobile device), only 55% of the population are connected to or use the internet, a 0.4% increase over 2020. We have a lot of work to do to get to more desired levels.
The last component is Digital Commerce. This component represents how we buy, sell and bank in the digital space. It also defines the safeguards that must exist to ensure a safe operating environment. COVID-19 has exposed the deficiencies that currently exist in this space, but the good news is that it has also highlighted the vast array of opportunities that exist as well. Traditionally, governments and financial institutions have underperformed as it relates to boosting digital commerce in Jamaica. Still, in recent times (since COVID-19), the level of urgency to facilitate e-commerce has intensified. If sustained, the future looks very promising.
Next week we will look at the final set of components that fall under the SECURE umbrella.
Trevor Forrest is the founder and CEO of 876 Technology Solutions. Christopher Reckord is CEO of managed IT services provider tTech Limited. Collectively, they have approximately 80 years of experience helping organisations of varying sizes procure and implement information technology solutions and transform digitally.
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