Needed: More Haves

  • by April 22, 2001
Needed: More Haves

"Those who lack access to the Internet – and the resources necessary to utilize its benefits – are at a growing disadvantage in education, economic advancement and job training," said Tom Mattia, vice president of Global Communications and Community Affairs for EDS.

A recent survey by Harris Interactive for EDS addressed the so-called "digital divide" between the country’s computer-age haves and have-nots. The respondents ranked the effectiveness of corporate America, non-profit organizations, and the federal government in addressing the digital divide.

The perception of haves and have-nots is different in who provides the better solutions. Of those who do not have online access:
- 28% say non-profit organizations are most effective in addressing the issue
- 27% say the federal government
- 25% say corporate America

Of those with online access
- 41% say corporate America is more effective in addressing the issue
- 36% say non-profit organizations
- and 27%, the federal government

Respondents rated several steps companies can take to overcome the digital divide as "very important."

- 82 think that donating time, money and equipment to schools is very important
- 74% say provide scholarships for those interested in pursuing technical degrees
- 71% want classroom training for basic Internet and computer software usage
- 66% suggest that students spend time at local corporations
- and 51% want computer refurbishment programs

Of the basic solutions mentioned most often for companies to address the digital divide, the national survey found that 47% of respondents believed increasing training for basic computer software usage is more effective in addressing the digital divide vs. 35% in increasing access to computers and the Internet.

The U.S. Department of Commerce released a report in October 2000 finding more than 116 million Americans online, and more than half of all households in the U.S. owning a computer. While there are approximately 140 million Americans with computers, there are an equal number without them.

A report by the U.S. General Accounting Office found "greater home usage of the Internet by more highly educated and wealthier individuals … and, Internet users were more likely to be white and well educated." This suggests that while the growth rate of computer and Internet use continues to rise, it does not rise proportionally across all populations and geographies.

With some of this knowledge, buyers and planners can address the solution or the market depending on the client’s interests.

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