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Morino Institute From Access to Outcomes: Digital Divide Report and Dialogue
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Full posts:

Creating a Digital Peace Corps

Post:

03

Date:

Nov 30, 2000

From:

Barbara Chang



I have a few thoughts on the premise, not terribly cohesive but here they are. Yes I agree that utilizing the existing community resources or "infrastructure" is a critical path to improving people's lives. This infrastructure is the trusted, sustained presence that will lead the way in an effort like this. I believe empowering this community with technology will have a powerful impact -- directly and indirectly -- depending on what the core competence of the organization is. Technology for these organizations is an enabler not necessarily a direct bridge for the issues that define the digital divide.

So for example, in NYC there is an effort underway to enroll thousands of kids in a new health insurance program sponsored by the state, city and feds. The efforts, as profiled in a recent NYT article, are failing miserably and the enrollments are minimal at best. Mobile vans spread out on weekends trying to find kids to enroll, sometimes resulting in 4 kids enrolled after a full day of community outreach. Doesn't something tell you that with today's technology, there has to be a better way? The infrastructure that is in place to enroll is plagued by barriers to technology (funds, lack of knowledge, fear of the unknown) that keep them from implementing more innovative solutions. If this problem could be solved, think of how many kids would have health insurance and frequent their local clinics at the first sign of illness rather than when it has become a dangerous, acute condition.

This is an example of how technology, put in the hands of the right party, can make a difference.

Barbara Chang

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