Exploring the Digital Divide in an Australian Regional City: a case study of Albury

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Abstract:

The 'digital divide' is generally considered to be the gap between people who have access to information and communication technologies (ICT) and those who do not, and an issue of significant social justice. This paper presents findings from research that explored the digital divide within the regional city of Albury. The study focused on assessing whether there was a digital divide; identifying strategies to address any divide; and developing a methodology that could be used to explore the digital divide in other contexts. Data were gathered using semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and a telephone survey of city residents. Findings demonstrated that a digital divide existed in that there were differences in computer access in relation to income and different locations within the city, and for access to the Internet by age, education and income levels. Overall, the patterns indicated that those with lower education and income and the elderly reported lower levels of access to ICT. Drawing on the research findings we suggest some practical ways of addressing the digital divide that could be applied to other similar locations where a digital divide exists, such as providing technical support and training, improved access to and awareness of ICT services, and facilitating access to ICT services such as the provision of appropriate hardware and software for disadvantaged groups. Our view is that the mixed-method approach we employed provided helpful, reliable information at reasonable cost and could be considered by other researchers and local governments.

Keywords: Albury; Australia; Digital divide; initiative; regional centre; rural

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00049180802419203

Affiliations: Charles Sturt University, Australia

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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