A New Digital Revolution: Way Forward to Make It Inclusive for Everyone

Mahtab Uddin Chowdhury | 06 July 2021
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The application of digital devices or technologies in our lives is not a luxury anymore. Instead, it has become indispensable. Revolution is no more a word that is only been applied to portray political changes, rather “industrial revolution” is now a common phenomenon. Therefore, the fourth industrial revolution is what we have been waiting to experience. Considering its necessity and significance, it has become a must to initiate explicit ideas and take robust approaches to make such digital devices exclusively available for people from every background.

The recent pandemic has created unprecedented challenges in the social-economic structure of humankind. To ensure social distancing, lockdowns were imposed in almost every part of the world. Therefore, there have been restrictions on traveling for a certain period, resulting in a dramatic change of the world order. 

Apart from its negative sides, Covid-19 generates diversified opportunities in different fields of human development. One of them, obviously, is the rapid increase and excessive utilization of digital devices and software/apps. For instance, let's consider the demand of Zoom or Google Meet, and how they helped to resume the temporary disruption in workplaces. 

The impact of the pandemic varies from country to country in terms of affected cases, death rate, recovery rate, or economic breakdown. However, as multilateralism builds up and inter-dependency between countries rise, every country needs to observe the problems with the same eyes. Therefore, it requires a comprehensive and collaborative effort by the countries when entering into the recovery phase. 

It is indeed hard, if not impossible, to speculate how soon the coronavirus situation will improve and pandemic would be over. However, reviewing overall circumstances, it is high time to plan for a post-Covid world. Bearing in mind the positive outcomes of digital services, policymakers should consider the issues of digital transformation and its impact on people's daily lives for the future.

Although the beneficiary of digital advancement is increasing day by day, there remains a huge number of people who are not getting the fruits of such progression. Issues of inaccessibility and unaffordability still remain to be solved when it comes to preparing people for the fourth industrial revolution.   

When we talk about digital transformation, three actions are the most important to consider. 

One, ensuring digital devices for a greater number of people. To do this, the availability should be increased, so that people from every society get their devices within their capacity. 

Secondly, increasing internet facilities for everyone, which requires partnership. As the world evolves around the open market economy, it is crucial to enforce and expand public-private partnerships for effective acceleration of such a process. 

Lastly, the focus should be on speed and cost. On a related note, a relevant legal and regulatory framework should be established to safeguard the operation of private sectors. All this will not be possible until and unless steps are taken, collaboratively, among nations. 

Furthermore, the issue of good governance is also required in terms of delivering quality services by the state party. The curse of corruption, lack of accountability, and transparency often disrupt reformation, especially in third world countries. Besides, a policy can never be goal-oriented unless it includes the perception of the common people. As rural people usually lag behind in receiving digital services, it is imperative to incorporate with them before taking relevant policies. 

Every day, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are produced by humans which proves how powerful a computer is as a device. At the same time, the world is moving towards accomplishing Sustainable Development Goals prior to which, digital transformation should be rated as top priority for every country. Just like how SDG 17 talks about building partnership for the goals, therefore, to bring people under the umbrella of technological advancement, the mandatory need for collaborative plans of actions is highly required.    

With the pace of globalization, the importance of digital devices has become enormous as private and public firms operate on a global scale. Such technologies are being used as necessary tools to provide valuable services to customers, since before the crisis. Thanks to the pandemic, it has helped people to realize the amplified need for digital devices and adapt to this changing pattern of getting services quickly through digital means. Now, there is no way to look back from this newly emerging situation. Instead, the time has come to embrace the changes and getting the best output from it through initiating constructive mechanisms.

Mahtab Uddin Chowdhury, Research Assistant, Centre for Governance Studies (CGS). 

Views in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect CGS policy.