The rollout of ubiquitous high speed broadband, whether it be the National Broadband Network (NBN) or another offering, during the next 15 years will enable Australia to become social entrepreneurs in the digital economy according to the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA).
Speaking to attendees at the National Digital Inclusion Summit, AIIA corporate relations and programs general manager, Kelly Hutchison, said that once the broadband network is rolled out, Australians could help to deliver sustainable economic outcomes for all communities - social entrepreneurship.
These areas would include digital inclusion, community development and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
"Regardless of the OECD ranking's of countries, there are still disadvantaged and marginalised people who can benefit from being connected," Hutchison said.
"Putting aside the issues of affordability, which we have to spend a bit of time working on, we know that there are remote communities who need support to get their products to new markets. We have agricultural cooperatives who wish to connect with others to identify what they can learn and share in new advances in food production."
According to Hutchison, these types of connections could be achieved through ICT.
"I think we sometimes forget that ICT stands for using technology to communicate information. None of it becomes knowledge until you can apply it and it becomes relevant."
One organisation that was trying to deliver ICT to remote organisations was non-profit organisation, the Australian Social Innovation Exchange (ASIX).
"The ASIX uses ICT to provide a mechanism for cooperation, engagement, networking and it is taking the first steps into an ICT enabled world for a number of organisations and also the next generation of technologies that these people will develop in response to community needs," she said.
What excited Hutchison was what lay ahead in terms of connecting remote communities and disadvantaged people.
"We’re at a tipping point with the exceptional increase of user [broadband] access and the equality that if we can work out the financial model, than a quality of access and affordability that broadband will offer.
In conclusions, she said Australia has an opportunity to lead in the digital economy space because of its start-up business spirit and committed social sector.
"We will have the [broadband] infrastructure over the next 15 years and we have government commitment from The Opposition's shadow communications minister ,Malcolm Turnbull, and communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, that we saw today to leverage whatever investment is made," Hutchison said.
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