Tracking the Digital Divide: Studying the Association of the Global Digital Divide with Societal Divide

Tracking the Digital Divide: Studying the Association of the Global Digital Divide with Societal Divide

Marc Holzer (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, USA) and Aroon Manoharan (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-713-3.ch004
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Abstract

The chapter is based on a study of global municipal Web portals conducted through a collaboration between the E-Governance Institute at Rutgers-Newark, USA, and the Global e-Policy e-Government Institute at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea. The joint study ranked municipalities worldwide based on their scores in five e-governance categories of security and privacy, usability, content, services and citizen participation. Crucial trends in the development of the municipal Web portal indicate a growing digital divide between cities belonging to the OECD and non-OECD nations. This chapter attempts to understand the correlates of this divide, by exploring the association of this digital divide to other divides - social, political, economic and literacy divides among nations, particularly those between OECD and non-OECD nations.
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Introduction

The dawn of the information age and the growth of Internet have led to governments increasingly computerizing their services to citizens around the globe. Governments are transforming into e-governments with public information and services increasingly offered online. This phenomenon is broadly referred to as e-government. “E-government, the application of ICT within public administration to optimise its internal and external functions, provides government and business with a set of tools that can potentially transform the way in which interactions take place, services are delivered,…. and citizens participate in governance…” (UNDESA, 2003, 1). According to Liikanen (2003, 5) e-government is defined as “the use of information and communication technology in public administrations combined with organizational change and new skills in order to improve public services and democratic processes and strengthen support for public policies”. Norris defines e-government as “….the delivery of services and information, electronically, to businesses and residents, 24 hours a day, seven days a week” (2001, 5). There are three stages in introducing e-government: (1) publishing government information online; (2) interacting, where ICTs are used to encourage civic participation in government decision making; and (3) transacting, where government services are accessed online (CDT & infoDev, 2002). The internet is also a convenient mechanism for government to conduct citizen-participation exercises, with the potential to decentralize decision-making. ICTs help citizen groups to “do research on the Web, build links with online communities, host their own Websites to post reports, and make use of email to connect with their peers” (Bridges.org, 2002b).

As the use of e-government became popular, academicians have conducted research on the potential effects of e-government. A Pew Internet & American Life Project study examining how Americans contact their government found that e-government is an increasingly popular tool for online users to get information and send messages to their public officials (Horrigan, 2004). Another study by Gant & Gant (2001) finds that in a span of five years, from 1995 to 2000, the number of both public and private Web portals across the globe rose from less than 20,000 to more than 10 million.

Much of this research on the performance of e-government has focused primarily on the public agency, with less consideration of the societal impact of providing services online. Traditional methods of measuring government service, both online and offline have focused on the public official or administrative tool as the central element. Behn’s “three big questions of public management” consider the public bureaucrat as the framework of measurement and improvement, thus ignoring the social consequences of public administration in a democratic society (Kirlin, 1996). In this context, an important consequence of the growing use of computers is the growing digital divide among nations and also within nations both developed and developing. Digital divide is not just a divide that applies to people but it can also be applicable on a larger scale to countries and states. Some countries are ranked higher while some are ranked lower on the scale measuring the degree of digital divide leading to an uneven level of participation in a networked society. Thus “the network society is creating parallel communications systems: one for those with income, education and literally connections, giving plentiful information at low cost and high speed; the other for those without connections, blocked by high barriers of time, cost and uncertainty and dependent upon outdated information” (UNDP, 1999, 63). This chapter attempts to understand the correlates of this divide, by exploring the association of this digital divide to other divides - social, political, economic and literacy divides among nations, particularly those between OECD and non-OECD nations.

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Dedication
Ganesh P. Sahu, Yogesh K. Dwivedi, Vishanth Weerakkody
Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Foreword
Marijn Janssen
Preface
Ganesh P. Sahu, Yogesh K. Dwivedi, Vishanth Weerakkody
Acknowledgment
Ganesh P. Sahu, Yogesh K. Dwivedi, Vishanth Weerakkody
Chapter 1
Bharat Maheshwari, Vinod Kumar, Uma Kumar, Vedmani Sharan
Electronic government (E-government) portals are considered one of the most popular conduits for offering government services online. Successful... Sample PDF
A Framework for E-Government Portal Development
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Chapter 2
Petter Gottschalk
The mobilization of electronic information across government organizations has the potential of modernizing and transforming information exchanges.... Sample PDF
E-Government Interoperability: Frameworks for Aligned Development
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Chapter 3
Mahfuz Ashraf, Jo Hanisch, Paul Swatman
While there is hope that ICT interventions will lead to socio-economic development in developing countries, there is a dearth of research concerning... Sample PDF
An Explorative Study of Dynamic Influences on ICT-Led Developmental Impact at Community Level
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Chapter 4
Marc Holzer, Aroon Manoharan
The chapter is based on a study of global municipal Web portals conducted through a collaboration between the E-Governance Institute at... Sample PDF
Tracking the Digital Divide: Studying the Association of the Global Digital Divide with Societal Divide
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Chapter 5
Charru Malhotra, V.M. Chariar, L.K. Das
The speed and outreach enabled by information and communication technologies (ICT) have improved mechanisms of delivery of information, services and... Sample PDF
Making ICT more Meaningful for Governance in the Rural Areas: Role of the Community Knowledge Systems
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Chapter 6
Sandeep Kaur, N. Mathiyalagan
ICTs in general and e-governance in particular offer tremendous opportunities for improving demand-driven transparent and accountable service... Sample PDF
Impact of E-Government Implementation on Poverty Reduction in Rural India: Selected Case Studies
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Chapter 7
Subhajit Choudhury, Sudhir Kumar
The chapter introduces information communication technology and its importance with respect to digital divide. Digital divides is the connotation of... Sample PDF
E-Governance: Tool for E-Democracy and Citizen Empowerment in the Horizon of Information Technology Era in Developing Society in India, Nepal and Bangladesh
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Chapter 8
Siddhartha Ghosh
E-governance is the public sector’s use of information and communication technologies (ICT) with the aim of improving information and service... Sample PDF
Application of Natural Language Processing (NLP) Techniques in E–Governance
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Chapter 9
Anand Agrawal
A primary goal of e-governance is providing online-services to citizens over the internet (Web portals) to facilitate government-to-citizen (G2C)... Sample PDF
Assessing E-Governance Online-Service Quality (EGOSQ)
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Chapter 10
Sundresan Perumal
As the world is streaming into an electronic world there are still huge communities that don’t understand the evolution government into the era of... Sample PDF
The Success Model of Evolution from Government to E-Governance
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Chapter 11
Shafi Al-Shafi, Vishanth Weerakkody
This chapter examines the adoption of free wireless internet parks (iPark) by Qatari citizens as means of accessing electronic services from public... Sample PDF
Technology Acceptance of Free Wireless Internet Park Initiatives
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Chapter 12
Yogesh K. Dwivedi
The main purpose of this chapter is to provide readers an exhaustive list of references focused upon electronic government related issues.The... Sample PDF
A Bibliometric Analysis of Electronic Government Research
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Chapter 13
C.S.R. Prabhu
The National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) proposes citizen service delivery up to the village level through various channels including village kiosks.... Sample PDF
Towards an E-Governance Grid for India (E-GGI): An Architectural Framework for Citizen Services Delivery
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Chapter 14
Swamy Tribhuvananda H.V., Gopakumar K.
ICTs are increasingly being recognized by the people across the globe as essential tools of development – tools that can empower them, enhance... Sample PDF
E-Halli: An Opportunity to Become Rural Entrepreneurs
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Chapter 15
Moaman Al-Busaidy, Vishanth Weerakkody
With the advancement of the Internet and supporting information and communication technologies, e-government has emerged as an effective means of... Sample PDF
E-Government Implementation in Oman: A Preliminary Investigation
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Chapter 16
Vineeta Dixit
Information communications technologies (ICTs) are one of the major areas of research and investment in developing countries because they seem to... Sample PDF
Telecentres: The New Public Spheres?
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About the Contributors