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Building Digital Bridges

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This report looks at efforts by stakeholders at the local, national and international level to bridge the digital divide. It reviews the role of new technologies, multi-stakeholder partnerships and ICT indices in reducing the gap, taking an in-depth look at the cases of Australia, Hong Kong, India, Korea (Rep. of) and Malaysia. The report also proposes a methodology for the development of a composite Digital Opportunity Index (DOI).

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The role of multi-stakeholder partnerships

The origins of the digital divide can be dated quite precisely to 24 May 1844 when the first electronic telegraph route was opened between Washington D.C. and Baltimore, and when Samuel Morse sent the historic first message “What hath God wrought?” That first link privileged the two end-points of the circuit, but every other point on the globe suddenly found itself on the wrong side of a newly-opened digital divide. However, by the time the original telegraph circuit was extended to reach Philadelphia and New York, the digital divide was already starting to be reduced. Indeed, one of the missions of ITU, founded 21 years later, was to “extend the benefits of the new telecommunication technologies to all the world’s inhabitants”.

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