IEEE President’s Observe: Connecting the Unconnected

At IEEE, we all know that the development of science and expertise is the engine that drives the advance of the standard of life for each individual on this planet. Sadly, as we’re all conscious, right this moment’s world faces vital challenges, together with escalating conflicts, a local weather disaster, meals insecurity, gender inequality, and the roughly 2.7 billion individuals who can’t entry the Web.

Bridging the divide

The COVID-19 pandemic uncovered the digital divide like by no means earlier than. The world noticed the necessity for common broadband connectivity for distant work, on-line schooling, telemedicine, leisure, and social networking. Those that had entry thrived whereas these with out it struggled. As tens of millions of lecture rooms moved on-line, the dearth of connectivity made it troublesome for some college students to take part in distant studying. Adults who couldn’t carry out their job nearly confronted layoffs or lowered work hours.

The pandemic additionally uncovered weaknesses within the international infrastructure that helps the residents of the world. It grew to become much more obvious that very important communications, computing, vitality, and distribution infrastructure was not at all times equitably distributed, notably in much less developed areas.

Practically 45 % of worldwide households wouldn’t have entry to the Web, in accordance with UNESCO. A report from UNICEF estimates that almost two-thirds of the world’s schoolchildren lack Web entry at residence.

This digital divide is especially impactful on ladies. who’re 23 % much less possible than males to make use of the Web. In keeping with the United Nations Instructional, Scientific and Cultural Group, in 10 international locations throughout Africa, Asia, and South America, ladies are between 30 % and 50 % much less possible than males to utilize the Web.

Even in developed international locations, Web entry is commonly decrease than one may think. Greater than six % of the U.S. inhabitants doesn’t have a high-speed connection. In Australia, the determine is 13 %. Globally, simply over half of households have an Web connection, in accordance with UNESCO. Within the developed world, 87 % are related, in contrast with 47 % in growing nations and simply 19 % within the least developed international locations.

Advantages of expertise

As IEEE appears to be like to steer the event of expertise to deal with local weather change and empower common prosperity, it’s important that we acknowledge the position that significant connectivity and digital expertise play within the group’s targets to assist international sustainability, drive financial progress, and rework well being care, schooling, employment, gender equality, and youth empowerment.

IEEE members across the globe are repeatedly growing and making use of expertise to assist resolve these issues. It’s that common ardour—to enhance international circumstances—that’s on the coronary heart of our mission, in addition to our increasing partnerships and vital actions supporting the achievement of the U.N. Sustainable Growth Targets.

One rising partnership is with the Worldwide Telecommunication Union, a U.N. specialised company that helps set coverage associated to data and communication applied sciences. IEEE Member Doreen Bogdan-Martin was elected as ITU secretary-general and took workplace on 1 January, turning into the primary girl to steer the 155-year-old group. Bogdan-Martin is the recipient of this yr’s IEEE President’s Award [see sidebar].

IEEE and ITU share the objective of bringing the advantages of expertise to all of humanity. I stay up for working carefully with the U.N. company to advertise significant connectivity, intensify cooperation to attach the unconnected, and strengthen the alignment of digital applied sciences with inclusive sustainable improvement.

I actually imagine that one of the crucial necessary functions of expertise is to enhance individuals’s lives. For these in underserved areas of the world, expertise can enhance instructional alternatives, present higher well being care, alleviate struggling, and keep human dignity.

Expertise and technologists, notably IEEE members, have a major position to play in shaping life on this planet. They will use their abilities to develop and advance expertise—from inexperienced vitality to decreasing waste and emissions, and from transportation electrification to digital schooling, well being, and agriculture. As an individual who believes within the energy of expertise to profit humanity, I discover this to be a really compelling imaginative and prescient for our shared future.

Please share your ideas with me:


IEEE president and CEO

This text seems within the June 2023 print situation as “Connecting the Unconnected.”

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