Access to networks – of transport, of communications, and of community support.

A global overview

Transport infrastructure, digital communications, and social connections are crucial for creating opportunity and for building community wellbeing and resilience. However, half the world’s population have no access to local public transport, over 40% of people cannot access the Internet at home, and one person in four says they have no one to count on in times of trouble.

How is digital tech relevant to networks?

Areas of tension

These are the issues, negative impacts and concerns collectively raised by the attendees from our pilot workshops.

For the digital tech workforce
  • Disparities between rural and urban areas in internet connectivity, transport links and social opportunities, mean that some tech workers can be left behind as the industry often assumes or requires a person has good access to these.
  • The tech industry can perpetuate the mentality of closed communities or gatekeeping of roles and knowledge, thereby blocking a diverse community from being included.
  • The vast majority of tech work takes places behind a screen which can close workers off to in-person communities.
  • Access to capital and investment for digital tech start-ups is skewed towards those who already belong to the communities that hold it.
For the global population
  • The deployment of ocean cables, through which 95% of the world’s data travels, is lightly regulated and has a complex web of public and private stakeholders, many of whom are not consulted or their needs are overlooked.
  • Digital communication networks are typically owned and controlled by private firms, and not operated in the interests of the plublic good and worsen existing inequalities and exclusion.
  • Many harder to reach communities are left behind as resources are typically funnelled into connectivity progress in urban areas (4G, 5G, local transport) rather than ensuring equality of access for all.
  • The concept of “digital by default” can mean that the value of in-person, social connection is overlooked and is not invested in enough.

How can we nudge these tensions for the better?

Grounds for hope

These are visions and ideas for change collectively raised by the attendees from our pilot workshops.

For the digital tech workforce
  • Kind, confident, inclusive and connected tech communities.
  • Implement universal (and affordable) broadband, especially in rural/remote areas.
  • Tech industry asks themselves what’s really needed before just building things

For the global population

  • Networks and connection that don’t require tradeoffs in terms of privacy, accessibility.
  • Local, regional, global communities create digital networks that respond to their needs and hopes.
  • Equal and fair access to infrastructure.

Keen to learn more?

If you’d like to explore these issues yourself, either as an individual or with your work colleagues, why not run your own workshop?

Our workshop methodology is open source and available for anyone to use for free. Alternatively you can hire trusted professionals to facilitate the process on your behalf.