BANGKOK, Thailand, Aug. 30 (IPS) – Asia and the Pacific is the most digitally fragmented region in the world, and Southeast Asia the most. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a “digital big bang” pushing people, governments and businesses to become “digital by default;” a major shift that has generated massive digital dividends. However, these benefits have not been evenly distributed. New development gaps have emerged as digital transformation reinforces a vicious cycle of socioeconomic inequality, within and between countries.
Often, the people who are most comfortable with technological innovation are the younger and better educated people who have grown up with the Internet as “digital natives”. Older adults may be more distrustful, or slow to acquire necessary skills, or have a decline in aptitude. But at all ages, poor communities – especially in rural areas – are most at risk because they may not be able to afford electricity or digital connectivity or lack the relevant skills, even where the necessary infrastructure and connectivity are in place.
The most important driver of digital transformation is business research, development and adoption of pioneering technologies. Another major component is e-government; the provision of public information and services over the Internet or through other digital means. This has the potential for more efficient and comprehensive operations; especially when linked to the national digital ID system. However, as e-government services often thrive in complex regulatory environments, providing appropriate levels of accessibility for older generations, people with disabilities, or those with limited education has become more difficult.
It is clear that digital technologies are enabling the delivery of services not previously imagined while enhancing productivity and optimizing resource use, helping to reduce greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions. . These technologies also help track and prevent the spread of pandemics. Social networks are promoting and diversifying communication among people of all ages, regardless of location. This helps them stay in touch, expand their experience, continue learning or deepen their subject knowledge. This has provided a real lifeline to continue as we enter the post-pandemic era.
At the same time, risks also proliferate. Social media also creates social “echo chambers” and creates flows of misinformation and hate speech. New cryptocurrencies paved the way for a speculative financial bubble, while cybercrime increased alarmingly as it assumed variations proliferated. In addition, digital devices and the Internet are believed to contribute to more than 2% of global carbon emissions. The production of electronic hardware can also deplete supplies of natural resources such as rare earth elements and precious metals such as cobalt and lithium.
Furthermore, digital transformation has resulted in the generation of large amounts of digital data which has become an essential resource for understanding digital transformation. However, it raises concerns about the ethical and responsible use of data to protect privacy. A common understanding among countries about the operation of such principles has not yet developed.
The Asia-Pacific Digital Transformation Report 2022 highlights the importance of digitally connected infrastructure as “superinfrastructure”. 5G and other high-speed networks can make all other infrastructures – such as transportation and grid distribution – much smarter, optimizing resource use for sustainable development . To contribute to meeting these needs, the Report proposes three paths of action, which are not mutually exclusive and align with the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway initiative’s ESCAP Action Plan. period 2022-2026.
The first path focuses on the supply side and provides relevant policy practices for cost-effective network infrastructure development. The second addresses the demand side and recommends capacity building programs and policies to drive large-scale adoption, new, more affordable and easily accessible digital products and services. more accessible. The third involves improving the systems and institutions involved in collecting, synthesizing and analyzing data in a way that builds public confidence and enhances policymakers’ understanding of The dynamics of digital transformation.
Finally, in a world where digital data can be instantly global, the report highlights the importance of regional and global cooperation. Only by working together can countries ensure that these technological breakthroughs benefit everyone; peoples, their economies and societies, as well as to the natural environment, in our new “digital by default” normal.
IPS UN Office
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