The professionals who work at IT support consultancies like Conosco know the value of access to technology, with computing equipment particularly important to communities of all kinds. But if you think rural broadband access in the UK is bad, consider the remote and impoverished communities of some Third World countries, and how their fortunes have been advanced significantly in recent years as their access to even the most basic of technology has improved.
1. Laptops for Everyone
While these programmes in themselves might not have advanced those communities in an immediately recognisable way, they have laid the groundwork for many more advances to be made in future.
2. Remote Medical Advice
One particularly important advance that can be made possible through internet-connected laptops and mobile phones is remote access to medical advice. In Third World communities, where the nearest city may be far away without any high-speed transport available, speaking to a medical professional could literally make the difference between life and death. Laptops in particular can play a crucial role in improving remote medical advice, as webcams can allow the patient’s visible symptoms to be seen by the doctor, who can then tailor the diagnosis accordingly.
3. New Business Opportunities
While not everyone in the Third World owns a computer or has their own internet connection, that does not mean that penetration might not be slightly higher than the official figures. For those who do have a web-connected computer or laptop, there are whole new profit-making opportunities by hiring the equipment out to fellow members of the community – a model not wholly dissimilar from internet cafes in the developed world.
4. Water Purification
Although it might not seem like cutting-edge technology, there’s no denying the impact of water purification in some of the most arid climates of the world. Whether it’s chemical-based, or carried out at the source using high-tech machinery, water purification is an important part of keeping remote communities safe, while ensuring they have access to the essential ingredients needed for survival.
Giving these people clean water to drink is perhaps among the most important topics at present – alongside global issues like climate change – and technology has a fundamental role to play.
5. The Rise of Democracy
There is an intrinsic link between good access to information and the rise of a democratic culture, and while some countries still suffer from state censorship of the content available to web users, others are using social networks and other online resources to plan revolutions. The so-called ‘Arab Spring’ of revolutions began in late 2010 and saw many nations in the Arab world undergo citizen-led revolutions, demonstrations and protests.
Its headline-grabbing images and unparalleled number of changes in government control make the Arab Spring, and the web-based technologies that allowed it to take place, truly significant in historical terms.