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Next Generation Broadband: shaping an inclusive digital region Bridgette Wessels University of Sheffield
01/05/2015© The University of Sheffield 2 Introduction Situating digital region analysis: ‘communicative turn’ and ‘information age’ – linking strategy and practice Relationship between technology, economic development and social policy Regions in global networked economy South Yorkshire Digital Region (SYDR)- outline and issues Under what conditions will next generation broadband and SYDR make a difference and to what and for who? Concluding comments
01/05/2015© The University of Sheffield 3 Situating the dynamics of digital development Problems in defining ‘information society’ - economic, political, social and cultural (Webster, 1995; 2003) Empirical research shows the importance of ‘communicative practices’ across a range of contexts and people (Silverstone, 2005; Berker et al., 2006) Communication and networks - interaction of 3 processes: 1/the economy managing flexibility in global capitalism; 2/ strengthening values of individual freedom and open communication; 3/ advances in ICT (Castells, 2001) Strategic vision and design/research-in-use: opens up critical and dynamic framework of analysis of change and continuity
01/05/2015© The University of Sheffield 4 Indicative figures £130 billion+ of UK business is conducted over the Internet (2006) 7 out of 10 businesses communicate with customers via their website 17 million adults manage their finances online 50%+ of online year olds use social networks 18 million on Facebook 20.4 million UK homes have digital TV Britons send 1 billion text messages every week
01/05/2015© The University of Sheffield 5 Another aspect 11% don’t have a mobile phone 33% of UK households don’t have a home computer 39% of adults in the UK don’t use the internet 27% don’t yet have a digital TV, and 26% of those who do, have non-interactive forms of Digital Terrestrial TV 23% of children have never accessed the internet from home and 29% lack such access ?% - “do not want to, do not need to or have no interest” (DC10+)
01/05/2015© The University of Sheffield 6 Technology, economic development and social policy Reformist policies (social services and redistributive taxation) alternate with reversal and retrenchment - connected with long cycles in the economy: greater inequality when new dominant tech spread through economic system (Freeman, 2000) (shown historically in cycles from 1780s) Kuznets hypothesis: growing inequality in innovation phase; mature economies show egalitarian trends Long swings in social policy and inequality Long waves and technology Growing inequality in periods of structural adjustment Importance of institutional change and progressive social policy in periods of socio-technical and economic change
01/05/2015© The University of Sheffield 7
01/05/2015© The University of Sheffield 8
01/05/2015© The University of Sheffield 9 Digital divide - dynamics of inclusion and participation Unequal levels of ICT access and skills that ‘adds a fundamental cleavage to existing sources of inequality and social exclusion’ (Castells, 2001: 247) Riga Ministerial Declaration (11 June 2006): ‘e-inclusion’ to reduce gaps in ICT usage and to promote the use of ICT to overcome exclusion; Digital Britain & broadband Multi-dimensional character of exclusion/inclusion: call to address participation (Steinert & Pilgram, 2007) - cf. resources: infrastructure/capacity/support ‘To infrastructurize’ – Leigh Star
01/05/2015© The University of Sheffield 10 Regions in the global networked economy The geography of the internet as ‘networked places’ Metropolitan nodes and economy made up of very large, interconnected metropolitan areas Centred around a major central city, smaller urban centres gradually become absorbed in intra-metropolitan networks Regional metropolitan structure is dependent on transportation and communications, innovation milieu and skills - requires high quality communications infrastructure (Castells, 2001) Fragmented urbanisms (Graham & Marvin; Madanipour) - and regions can get ‘switched off’ (Castells, 2001)
01/05/2015© The University of Sheffield 11 Next Generation Broadband: myths and research Broadband Stakeholder Group with Tambini (LSE) - report to bridge visionaries and sceptics (2008): wider social costs and benefits including: Educated citizens, informed democracy, cultural understanding and social inclusion, homeworking and impact on community and education, inclusion and disability, social capital, resilience and trust But: Myths are created to mobilize new tech (Phaffenberger, 1988) Same narrative for ‘enhanced technology’ - but past research raises questions - what are the social frameworks?
01/05/2015© The University of Sheffield 12 South Yorkshire Digital Region Digital Region Ltd - special purpose vehicle (SPV) to manage the Thales contract and promote demand across SY DRL is wholly owned by Yorkshire Forward and the four SY local authorities (Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster) Cost - majority of deployment 3 yrs: £94 million capital deployment: operational contract with Thales for 10 yrs and option for further 5 years All approvals in place: State Aid, EC, UK Government, local authorities (contract signed May 2009) Communications infrastructure: ‘next generation broadband’ - large open-access broadband infrastructure platform in municipal terms Vision: transform electronic communications across SY: significant impact on economic development, inward investment, capacity building Network integral to improving communications in public and private sectors: increased innovation, opportunities and greater social and economic inclusion
01/05/2015© The University of Sheffield 13 What is Digital Region? A high profile pilot for Next Generation Broadband Access - UK and beyond A significant ‘test bed’ infrastructure for market leaders in the digital economy An independent and wholesale network providing enhanced and flexible broadband capability serving the public and private sectors Capability for advanced applications: Home monitoring Health applications Working from home Enhanced video conferencing Virtual classroom Virtual shopping Transfer of large data files Interactive customer service (Project Director, Digital Region, Magna event 17/09/09)
01/05/2015© The University of Sheffield 14 The context of South Yorkshire Lost its industrial base of mining and steelmaking in the 1970s and 1980s, its economy continued to decline where GDP fell to less than 75% of the European average in the late 1990s. Uneven: poorest region in UK but with wealthy areas Objective 1 area at the Berlin Summit in 1999 Statistical profile of the population map - some of the indicators suggest a risk of low take-up of ICT as identified by the Riga Dashboard study Regeneration is based on an information society/knowledge economy model – complex process
01/05/2015© The University of Sheffield 15 Existing services & knowledge - shared public and voluntary access (operational) South Yorkshire Public Sector E-forum (strategy) Uses multiple platforms: mobile phone, DiTV, home computers E-petitioning, Doctors appointments online, etc… 10 yr history of developing e-services, MITP programme - digital inclusion Has good creative/digital industries (Sheffield) Also e-campus; digital media centre; digital SMEs; Business innovation centres
01/05/2015© The University of Sheffield 16 Areas to consider Working from home Telecare Virtual classroom Cultural engagement Active participation in democratic process Innovation and local economy Everyday life - micro-management of time, e.g. remote mothering, domestication of techs, etc Previous research shows all are problematic
01/05/2015© The University of Sheffield 17 Lessons from research: communicative practices show Telework: gender, manage boundaries, long hours, isolation, lack of union protection Virtual classroom: supportive learning environment, little home resource and cultural capital need extra support Telecare - complex institutional and practice changes Creativity- innovation link - opportunity frameworks Hypermobility - issue of transport Political participation influenced by political culture of nation and region Therefore: what social policies to support these?
01/05/2015© The University of Sheffield 18 General issues Privacy and security in remote communications Authentication and digital signatures High value jobs vs. low skilled jobs (call centres, etc) Institutional and legal frameworks for networked organisation of commerce, public sector and innovation The online-offline relationship re. participation (politics, cultural, social and economic) Managing communication in everyday life - boundaries, flexibilities and mobility
01/05/2015© The University of Sheffield 19 Concluding comments Technology is part of the economic and social factors in change Times of change can create greater inequalities, retrenchment in social policy High use of digital communication - research through communication practices across a range of contexts and people Strategic visions and applied research/design -in-use to shape inclusive digital region that include fostering innovation with supportive social policy
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