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IEEE President’s Word: Connecting the Unconnected

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At IEEE, we all know that the development of science and know-how is the engine that drives the development of the standard of life for each individual on this planet. Sadly, as we’re all conscious, at present’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 not 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 training, telemedicine, leisure, and social networking. Those that had entry thrived whereas these with out it struggled. As hundreds of thousands of lecture rooms moved on-line, the shortage of connectivity made it tough for some college students to take part in distant studying. Adults who couldn’t carry out their job nearly confronted layoffs or decreased work hours.

The pandemic additionally uncovered weaknesses within the world 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 all the time equitably distributed, significantly in much less developed areas.

Almost 45 p.c of world households should not have entry to the Web, in keeping with UNESCO. A report from UNICEF estimates that just about two-thirds of the world’s schoolchildren lack Web entry at dwelling.

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

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

Advantages of know-how

As IEEE appears to steer the event of know-how to deal with climate change and empower common prosperity, it’s important that we acknowledge the position that significant connectivity and digital know-how play within the group’s objectives to assist world sustainability, drive financial development, and rework well being care, training, employment, gender equality, and youth empowerment.

IEEE members across the globe are repeatedly growing and making use of know-how to assist clear up these issues. It’s that common ardour—to enhance world 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 Development Goals.

One rising partnership is with the International 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, changing 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 purpose of bringing the advantages of know-how to all of humanity. I sit 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 growth.

I actually imagine that one of the vital vital purposes of know-how is to enhance folks’s lives. For these in underserved areas of the world, know-how can enhance instructional alternatives, present higher well being care, alleviate struggling, and preserve human dignity.

Know-how and technologists, significantly IEEE members, have a major position to play in shaping life on this planet. They’ll use their expertise to develop and advance know-how—from inexperienced vitality to decreasing waste and emissions, and from transportation electrification to digital training, well being, and agriculture. As an individual who believes within the energy of know-how to learn 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 subject as “Connecting the Unconnected.”

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