What Does Digital Divide Institute Do?
As the internet goes global, humanity could be helped or harmed. Policy research can make the difference. Digital Divide Institute, a Seattle-based nonprofit, promotes a model called Meaningful Broadband. Invited by Asian governments, we produce reports that show how stakeholders in each participating nation can interact to bring the full benefits of the internet to billions of low-income citizens.
DDI provides advisory services for global, regional and national ICT stakeholders who are on the front lines of the movement to close Digital Divide. We do not serve their proprietary or political interests but help these institutions align with the public good. In each case our aim is to integrate “digital divide” themes into their policies, strategies and initiatives. Sometimes we put them in clusters, as when we got help of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create a coalition of 12 big international foundations to collaborate on Digital Divide. The following chart indicates our partner organizations in five different sectors: national governments, intergovernmental agencies, universities, corporations, and philanthropic foundations.
Meaningful Broadband Research
Though our model emerged from a joint Harvard/MIT task force led by DDI founder Craig Warren Smith, our research focus is now in the field. We operate from test-market locations in four nations of deployment to conduct research on “five domains of innovation,” as indicated in the chart below.
DDI is contributing to worldwide efforts to build methodologies for a new academic field called Broadband Ethics. We do not assume that broadband in itself is a “public good” like air and water — the more the better. Rather, we focus on optimizing broadband so that its harm is reduced and its benefit is strengthened. Like other academic fields tied to new technologies (bioethics and media ethics), broadband ethics is needed to help the world’s policymakers understand the ethical implications of the introduction of broadband technologies to all planetary citizens. Based at our own Center for Ethics of Science and Technology of Chulalongkorn University, we work with Association of Internet Researchers, UNESCO, leading neuroscientists and ethnographers on this theme.