It is more than just broadband infrastructure that will change the economic landscape in Australia, according to the Department of Further Education, Employment Science and Technology (DFEEST) director of science and information economy, Carolyn Anderson.
Speaking at the National Digital Inclusion Summit, Anderson theorised that the government should focus more on integrating communities digitally instead of just on the physical deployment of it.
“Connectivity is necessary but not sufficient to drive broadband uptake as it is people not pipes who will transform our economy and communities,” she said.
Anderson concentrated on providing an insight into the local and best broadband practice in South Australia (SA).
DFEEST calculated that in SA, only 87 per cent of the population will get 100Mbps of fibre access – precluding the local citizens from receiving it.
Anderson simplified the bigger question of what is the driver behind people using high speed broadband.
According to her, the two things that drive the uptake of high speed broadband are the ubiquity of connectivity and universal digital literacy.
“Once everyone has universal broadband, then businesses, communities and governments can begin to transform their approach to service provision from a customer tailoring aspect and a cost saving point of view,” she said.
In SA, connectivity, capability and content are used as part of its information economy agenda. With regards to the extension of capability, Anderson stated that SA has been engaged to general Internet awareness for 10 years through programs such as Outback Connect. It was noticed that though the sessions have been ongoing, there is a decline in the number of attendees.
As such, she suggested that people have moved beyond awareness and want “fit for purpose, just in time training” about selective things that interest them.
The agency has adopted the approach of providing the SA citizens with what they require rather than keyboard skills in beginner, intermediate and advanced skill levels.
Anderson said that the agency has also been creating content to support the learning framework.
“It is Web-based and intended to be just in time, non-linear, user-focused, in basic, plain English, peer-to-peer or solo and incorporates video,” she said.
Whilst all the focus on the NBN is to provide broadband in homes, Anderson said that partnerships with the local council and library are essential in bridging the digital divide and for NBN success.
She quipped that libraries are important in providing training for the trainers.
Anderson is hoping for this framework to be funded under the National Digital Economy strategy as the foundation of all digital literacy programs.
“We understand a computer is not as easy to operate as a basic telephone,” she concluded.