Thursday, 9 June 2016

Dealing with the Double Jeopardy of Digital Exclusion in Rural and Remote Ontario

R2B2 project team attended the annual diThink  ORION Conference on May 26, 2016.

In collaboration with Compute Ontario, ORION  brought together researchers, research administrators, educators, students, policy makers and innovators from across Ontario.

Participants included rural and urban based stakeholders, including those from one of Canada’s premier food universities, University ofGuelph , and one of Ontario’s Northern universities, Lakehead University . Researchers at both of these universities address digital inclusion for the betterment of rural and remote communities.

Discussions at this year’s diThink conference addressed topics as diverse as digital individuals, digital inclusion, and more essentially the “uber of everything” which is a sharing economy spin on the “Internet of Things”. Ted Graham, Innovation Leader at PwC Canada, and himself a Uber driver, delivered a highly influential keynote speech based on his book entitled The Uber of Everything: How The Freed MarketEconomy is Disrupting and Delighting .

The discussions generally resonated with the diversity of participants in the conference as digital inclusion challenges were identified in terms of diverse cultures, abilities, ages and agility for learning. The problem is that underlying many discussions in diThink is the sense that the technology is the same in all communities. This is not the case, and so we need to recognize the “double jeopardy” of digital exclusion existing within and across diverse regions of Ontario, including the challenges faced by rural and remote areas.

The R2B2 team firmly believes that diThink is important because it is a flagship public engagement event that showcases digital innovation and science policy in Ontario and beyond. We look forward to emphasizing the importance of taking rural and remote issues into consideration as ORION continues its leadership on digital research and innovation and creative public engagement events, such as advanced computing workshops, regional roadshows, hackathons, and webinars.

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