March 28 and 29, 2022
Digital technologies are often seen as being a panacea to many of the world’s greatest challenges, from climate change to economic marginalisation. However, the darker side of their use, and their potential dramatically to increase socio-economic inequalities has generally been insufficiently addressed in the past.
This keynote draws on the speaker’s 45 years of experience crossing the boundaries between academia, government, the private sector and civil society in seeking to serve the interests of some of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people. It tackles head on the varying ways through which international organisations and the private sector insufficiently address the processes of marginalisation and often misunderstand the fundamental changes in power relationships bound up within the notion of empowerment. It focuses primarily on highlighting the potentially harmful implications of the use of digital tech, suggesting that these need to be mitigated so that the benefits of their use may be shared more equitably.
Before COVID-19 the health sector uptake of digital health, interventions had been increasing but experienced challenges to achieve scalability and cost-effectiveness generally. For example, internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT), (for anxiety and depression conditions) can only be scientifically described as similar in terms of cost-effectiveness and clinical effectiveness compared with a traditional face-to-face delivery modality. Even then, evidence suggests it is only supported for women (middle-aged, affluent, and educated).
For men, we know very little about digital intervention effectiveness at scale for any mental health condition or treatment. For young people, using digital health interventions, there are large gaps in our scientific knowledge about effectiveness. However, there are pockets of evidence that demonstrate the effectiveness for some digital interventions, among some sub-groups, but still, the evidence is thin on the ground. There is emerging evidence that suggests that older people have a positive sentiment about participating in digital mental health interventions for the treatment of depression, however, a reluctance among clinicians to engage in this way persists.
Meanwhile, First Nations people in Australia have poorer access to the internet compared to the whole of the population average. Unequal distribution of digital services for some priority populations, including, for example, rural, regional, and remote communities persist. Despite rapid development, there are numerous gaps in the equitable delivery of digital health interventions. COVID-19 has challenged developers and clinicians to rapidly escalate digital responses to service delivery needs and to consider lessons learnt in the past while driving ethical responses into the future.
Researchers and developers have escalated their response to develop innovation in service delivery. But, who misses out? This presentation will discuss digital innovation's capacity to respond to social and health inequity and will include Ecowell lab examples from research practice with the pro of concept and innovation development targeting diverse underserved populations, and or conditions: First Nations, refugee populations, and women in menopause in particular.
Design science research (DSR) is research that is concerned not only with explaining how things are, but how artifacts and courses of action (interventions) can be devised to attain desired human goals. Thus, DSR has relevance when considering issues related to digital inequality. The increasing reliance on digital resources worldwide means that those who are unable to effectively make use of new information and communication technologies can suffer significant disadvantages.
Digital inequality can compound problems faced by those who suffer disadvantages in other ways, for example concerning income level, education, age, gender or membership of a marginalized group. DSR allows the building of actionable knowledge of what has been shown to work in the past to alleviate digital inequality, as well as for the design and development of new and innovative approaches that could yield important societal benefits.
This presentation will discuss the nature of DSR and give examples of DSR work that can be undertaken in the digital inequality context, including case studies, evidence-based reviews, and the design of new interventions. Consideration is given to issues of working with marginalized groups and potential ethical challenges.
In this keynote, I will approach the topic of digital (in) equality through a somewhat heretical lens, drawing on my multiple roles and experiences as journal editor and reviewer, scholarly author, and critical citizen. I appreciate the genuine desire of many of the digitally disconnected to be socially, economically, and personally included within the digital society. I also see many good examples of how digital inclusion creates significant benefits.
One of the most obvious cases relates to digital money applications, which have enabled millions of people outside the formal banking system to participate in banking arrangements that given them financial independence and protection. At the same time, there is a dark side to digital equality that is less visible. Not everyone wants to be socially included through digital means, yet in developed economies and the emerging smart cities in particular, it is increasingly difficult to live if you are not digitally connected.
Digital inclusion is also associated with infringements to one’s privacy, and thus the benefits of digital equality need to be considered in the light of a darker digital character. I plan to explore these disparate issues and to identify new research questions for scholars.
CEO, Office of the Regulator, Government of Samoa
The digital inequality and social change is an important topic to study. However, there are not many such studies that has been done in the small island developing states (SIDS) of Oceania. It is why this paper aims to share the digital inequality and social change that may exist in Samoa. A further study is required to focus on SIDS of Oceania as the information on this topic appears to be missing in existing literature. The first national information and communication technology (ICT) policy and strategic plan were endorsed in 2005. The national ICT Strategy of Samoa (2005) specifically identifies 3 key strategic priorities. Firstly, liberalizing the mobile market, secondly, utilizing ICTs for Education and Communities and finally, e-Government and e-Health development. The strategic goal is to use ICTs as the driver in improving the social and economic development of Samoa. While the goal may have been achieved it is crucial to study the gaps in policy, regulatory and social change.
This paper will look at analyzing the impact of information and communication technology (ICT) development in Samoa and identify digital inequality and social change that may exist. The focus of the paper is determine the impact of regulation, universal access policy and any other strategies that may exist to lessen digital inequality. The issue of societal inequality and social change occurred in the SIDS of the Pacific (White, J. 1990) occurred long before the rise of digital technology. Therefore, it is crucial that this paper also looks at the inequality and social change before the digital revolution and determine whether the solutions applied at that time did solve the issue of inequality. While the digital divide is widely understood to be a gap between the haves and have not, it is not known how this divide impacted on society and whether there has been any policies and strategies that may have caused any social change due to digital inequality. The paper will take into account available literature listed below and more that are applicable to and can illustrate the focus and purpose of this paper.
University of Canberra, Australia
University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
In response to the turmoil and the anxiety created by COVID 19 pandemic, many universities transitioned to online delivery with limited support and resources. University teachers adapted to the online environment to ensure the effectiveness of students’ reaching their outcomes. Using the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as a framework, this study analysed ethnographic data from two experienced university teacher narratives about their online teaching strategies in two different university settings, in a developed and a developing country. The results showed that teachers used more or less similar strategies based on the affordances provided within the Learning Management Systems (LMS) and by also accessing other existing technological tools. However, the results showed inequalities that deprived and demoralise students’ participation due to their financial, economic, and socio-cultural backgrounds. This chapter emphasises the need for investigation into personalised and inclusive learning for consolidating and accommodating social and geographical barriers to minimise inequalities in students’ access to education. Students should not be deprived by the digital and technical divide limiting equal opportunities for learning and development in the so-called ‘global village’ in the 21st century and beyond.
Larry Stillman, Khalid Hossain, Monisha Biswas Misita Anwar
Monash University, Australia
This paper discusses a five-year digital equity and transformation project (the Transformation Project) jointly implemented by an Australian University and an international NGO (INGO) in Bangladesh. The Transformation Project has followed a participatory action research process through engaging village communities from three different geographic locations of Bangladesh, three local nongovernment organisations (NGOs), a number of universities in Bangladesh and a few Bangladesh-based technologybased firms. Designed within a long-term flagship resilience project of the INGO in two locations and in another location with another local NGO, the Transformation Project aimed at offering agency to rural women in climate vulnerable coastal, riverine island and wetland areas through provisioning smart phones, information systems and ICT services from a participatory action research perspective.
While the diverse organisational cultures associated in the research partnership have generated a number of notable research outcomes, considerable challenges have also been identified which can be considered for designing future digital equity and projects in developing country contexts. This is particularly important from a programme quality perspective (Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning - MEL process) of development organisations and the research impact perspective of academic/research institutions.
Within the Transformation Project, the implementation process has resulted in a meaningful change for people in poverty and change in communications and information system design and implementation. It has also demonstrated how multiple stakeholders can work together to advocate for digital equity and transformation on the part of disadvantaged communities. The research process struggled to obtain sufficient high-quality research data from the field to cultural, power and institutional issues. The problems reflect different expectations, assumptions and values about the nature of partnership and participatory social research with communities, including how field work and field interviews should be done.
This paper explores these issues and their relevance to sensitized culturally and institutionally sensitive research processes in ICT4D research. These matters have important implications for the achievement of digital equity and transformation and the use of such information in policy advocacy and research.
Hamoud Alhazmi, Ahmed Imran, Mohammad Abu Alsheikh
Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Canberra
Digital privacy has become an essential component of information and communications technology (ICT) systems. There are many existing methods for digital privacy protection, including network security, cryptography, and access control. However, there is still a gap in the digital privacy protection levels available for users, e.g., ICT users who are protected and those who are exposed to privacy attacks. This paper studies the digital privacy divide (DPD) problem in ICT systems.
First, we introduce an online DPD study for understanding the DPD problem by collecting responses from 776 ICT users using crowdsourcing task assignments. Second, we propose a factor analysis-based statistical method for generating the DPD index from a set of observable DPD question variables. In particular, the DPD index provides one scaled measure for the DPD gap by exploring the dimensionality of the eight questions in the DPD survey. Third, we introduce a DPD proportional odds model for analyzing the relationship between the DPD status and the socio demographic patterns of the users. Our results show that the DPD survey meets the internal consistency reliability with rigorous statistical measures, e.g., Cronbach's α = 0.92. Furthermore, the DPD index is shown to capture the underlying communality of all DPD variables. Finally, the DPD proportional odds model indicates a strong statistical correlation between the DPD status and the age groups of the ICT users. For example, we find that young users (15-32 years) are generally more concerned about their digital privacy than senior ones (33 years and over).
UNSW at ADFA
Transgender rights have wandered the long winding road full of discrimination, intolerance, and violence before they arrived at their current position. Over the last few decades, the world has witnessed how a series of political movements sprouted in the four corners of the world to bring equality under the law for underrepresented, misrepresented, and unrepresented people (Tran 2014).The rise of digital media has been an integral part of trans advocacy and has become a tool for the historically maligned population to air opinion and grievances on social issues.
In this paper, I look at the implications of digital securitisation and ‘online othering’ to transgender people’s participation in sports. By means of the Density-Based Spatial Clustering of Applications with Noise(DBSCAN) algorithm, this study examines comments made in response to tweets posted by Save Women’s Sports Australasia (@SWS_australasia) from June 2021 to February 2022. Grounded within the Copenhagen School’s Securitisation Theory, I look at the resulting clusters as themes to provide more data on what role SWS played in the securitisation of transgender people in sports. Here, I argue how ‘online othering’ has legitimised the discrimination that transgender people face in their everyday lives. I look at how anti-transgender speech acts have securitised the cyberspace for transgender people that allowed them to present the latter as threats to society — resulting in a spiral of fear.
University of Canberra
Urban inequalities such as social, economic, environmental and health have become an issue across the cities with the increasing number of people and policies. With the advancement of deep learning and visual recognition approaches, these issues can be manipulated with inexpensive methods. In this paper, we develop a deep learning approach to highlight and quantify several factors of the inequalities
including income, education, gender’s distributions, and economic resources from street imagery. In order to evaluate our method, we trained and validated the proposed architecture on data collected from different Urban places in Sydney. Also, the proposed architecture has been tested on street images from other cities such as Melbourne. The proposed method shows ability to generalise for other cities which proves the possibility of predicting inequality indicators from visual data for novel places. Finally, our observation illustrates that visual recognition from street imagery can be used as an automated and frequent tool additional to the government surveys to help achieving the equality between the different cities in Australia.
University of Groningen
University of Lausanne
The problem of digital inequality is a moving target, changing its shape as digital breakthrough innovations get introduced into society. In our work underpinning this poster, we argue that—faced with the rapid pace of digital innovation and the often surprising and impactful ways in which digital innovations are embedded into ever more areas of life— digital inequality shows itself as a highly complex construct that takes many shapes. To better grasp its current conceptual complexity and increase analytical adaptability to incorporate future empirical surprises, there is a need to pause and reflect on the conceptual underpinnings of digital inequality.
In our contribution to this ongoing debate, we propose to shift scholarly focus from a problem that continues to change it shape to the overarching aim: digital equality. We develop the Digital Equality Rose (DER) and argue that digital inequalities emerge out of the partial overlaps between four digital equality dimensions: the infrastructures, tools, social structures, and actors. This poster contributes by formulating a comprehensive definition of digital equality, by offering DER as a model to position, relate, and combat diverse digital inequalities, and by identifying opportunities for digital equality research.
Ioana Chan Mow
National University of Samoa
The National Assessment report of Samoa (2020) indicate that issues of inequality and hardship continue to emerge in Samoan society. This is evident among those unemployed in both the rural and urban areas not having access to basic services and opportunities. This inequality cuts across sectors. In education and research access to quality resources is an issue. The Samoa Knowledge Society Initiative (SKSI) is based on the premise that access to information and knowledge is a prerequisite for building inclusive knowledge societies. SKSI is a national project with multiple partners funded by UN agencies and the India Development fund. The aim of SKSI is to promote equity and inclusion with the establishment of a Knowledge Society Platform with three components: the Samoa Digital Library (SADIL), Lifelong Learning Lab and an Open access Research Repository. The initiative is planned to be implemented in two phases and implementation is now at the end of the first phase.
The presentation outlines the role of the National University of Samoa in this project through the establishment of the SKSI platform. Activities included the development of open access policy and editorial guidelines, an ICT infrastructure review, an evaluation of status of digitization in the ministries and stakeholder consultations to gather information requirements. But its main role has been the establishment of the national digital library (SADIL), the setting up of links to external libraries, and uploading digitized collections particularly its heritage and Pacific collection. The presentation also outlines the benefits of the SKSI project such as open access to reliable credible information; provision of lifelong learning; access to research of national significance; establishing Samoa as a regional information hub. The establishment of SKSI is also deemed timely with the heavy reliance on technology during the COVID era. A consequence of the heavy reliance on technology in the pandemic era has been its effect on worsening the digital divide and the exclusion of already marginalized communities (UNICEF,2020; World Economic Forum, 2020). Hence the drive for inclusive education is paramount and SKSI fulfills this by the offering of these 3 platforms, providing access to information and learning.
Oyerinde Oyedoyin Abiola & Oyerinde Yinka
University of Jos, Nigeria
In recent times, a lot of investments have been made in ICT infrastructure and implementations across various spheres of human activity in developing economies. In Nigeria, in particular, the rise of different FINTECH (Financial Technology) start ups that have raised millions of dollars in seed funding has contributed in bringing more awareness about ICT and its capabilities to aid in wealth creation and standard of living. While there is recognition of the potential of ICT as a tool for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women, a gender divide has been identified. This digital gender divide refers to types of gender differences in resources and capabilities to access and also effectively utilize ICTs. This is also inclusive of participation of women in ICT organizations.
The purpose of this study is to examine inclusivity within these organizations, participation of women vis a vis men, as well as searching if there are any specific policies or intentional actions taken in order to promote gender equality and inclusion in the industry. A desk review of personnel and recruitment policies from 2015 to date is conducted to determine whether there is any intentional action carried out to promote gender inclusion and equality in ICT4D related organizations in Nigeria, particularly those who have received some sort of seed funding from venture capitalist (VC) investors. These findings are then cross referenced with available gender inclusion indicators sourced from available statistical data to determine if there is any trend, positive or negative, that can influence societal change with respect to gender equality and/or balance in the ICT industry in Nigeria. The gender dimensions of ICT-in terms of capacity-building opportunities, employment and potential for empowerment if addressed can be a powerful catalyst for political and social empowerment of women and the promotion of gender equality.
Ahmed Imran, Shirley Gregor, Rhonda Wilson, Catherine Page Jeffery, Maya Gunawardena and Safiya Okai-Ugbaje
Indigenous people in Australia have a long and rich culture but are today faced with a range of issues and problems that are in some cases specific to their history since colonization. Knowledge sharing interventions, possibly using information technology, offer the potential to address such problems. An example is the development of a suicide prevention strategy with an Aboriginal community that incorporates multimedia. Prior work has argued strongly for the need for appropriate approaches when researching or developing interventions for indigenous people, such as participatory approaches that acknowledge and respect their traditional “ways of knowing”.
The aim of this study was to perform a scoping review that addressed the question of what evidence is available in the peer-reviewed literature to show how prior knowledge sharing interventions have been undertaken with indigenous communities and the outcomes of these interventions. Results show that positive outcomes have been obtained across a number of fields, with many in health, but also education and gambling. A range of information technologies and ways of knowing were identified. Participatory-type approaches have been used in many of these studies. In some, however, although instrumental value was achieved, threats such as loss of autonomy were observed.
Tasfia Rahman, Ahmed Imran
University of Canberra
While the positive changes brought by information technology has been discussed at great length throughout academic literature, not much research has been carried out to understand the overall social impact or social cost of information technology, particularly its negative impacts. The existing studies on the negative impact of IT are predominantly focused from an organisational perspective to improve IT use in workplace settings and fails to investigate the lived experiences/subjective reality of people (all beneficiaries) of their overall experience of IT usage.
An extensive literature review of the AIS basket of 8, JSTOR and Google Scholar has been carried out to examine this issue. Our initial review of existing models suggests that social justice based, participant centred, youth friendly and beneficiary focused can measure social impact more objectively. Hence, a comprehensive framework to measure the social impact of IT through triangulation of intersectional approach and capabilities approach has been suggested. The proposed framework is likely to provide researchers with the tools to collect accurate, nuanced data using a Participant Action Research method. This will also enable policymakers to design robust policies related to IT use which will be based on social justice and beneficiary for the end-user.
Dr Idris F Sulaiman
eResearch Network for South East Asia (eRSEA)
Dr Markus Buchhorn
Asia Pacific Advanced Network (APAN)
Since the COVID-19 Pandemic, the 'Open Science' movement has gathered momentum in enabling openness, greater sharing and transparency throughout the research process, as well as in encouraging better communication of research to the public. The Pandemic has accelerated certain new practices and forms of Open Science, many researchers believe, it could become catalysts for wider adoption but much work remains to be done to ensure that the movement with its principles are engaged with optimally. The presentation provides an overview of the adoption of Open Science and Data Sharing practices by various movements and governments at the global level as well as in the Australasia, Global South and the Asia Pacific regions by looking at some of their ambitions and the hurdles they face.
Dr Tamara Besednjak Valič
School of Advanced Social Studies in Nova Gorica (SASS)
In the paper the authors discuss the imporatnce of digital competences in teh light of innovation process and strategic digital agenda of the European Union. In this light the authors focus on the position and situation fo the Republic of Slovenia, small country positioned in the central Europe. Slovenia has experienced a significan drop in Innovation scoreboard in previous years (2019) and is not advancing as is should in terms of DESI index.
In this light we present the main results of the nationwide telephone survey, conducted in early 2022, using a representative sample of 606 respondends to discover the main patterns of digital competences and its employment in everyday life and errands by the population. Preliminary results show, in terms of self assessment – 53,4% of population can seek information on line withour assistance. Digital tools for the purposes of communication can be used by 48,8% of population. Slightly less, 39,1% of population can write and edit texts and movies. 23,1% can protect their own computers from malware and 15,1% of population knows how to solve technical problems. In the upcoming article some distinctions in terms of age, sex and education are discussed to elaborate the potential digital competences divide in Slovenia.