Digital Ecosystem: Life Moves On -- Internet Inclusion & The Global Start Up

By Susan Hyon Parker, IEEE Internet Initiative – Ethics & Policy

IEEE Internet Initiative eNewsletter, January 2017

As the digital ecosystem moves forward in the development process of an inclusive internet, we re-assess the expansion of services and the commitments that stakeholders have championed in progressing the best interests of not only civic group organizations and corporate interests associated with connectivity, but more importantly the focus of ethics and the interplay they have within our daily lives as humans.

Joe Azar, Artist – All Rights Reserved (shp)

“We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.”
R. Buckminster Fuller, Futurist & Innovation Leader

The focus of ethics and policy is to live life with a mission, guiding principles and core purpose. Ultimately it is for us to live life and live it well. Ethical and Moral behaviors are important when addressing societal impacts of technological frameworks, infrastructure deployments and digital skill building within both technical and non-technical audiences. These soft skills will be necessary within the Digital Ecosystem for it to thrive and expand.

Previously in a recent publication of the Internet Initiative (Hyon Parker, 2016), we initiated the conversation of cultural barriers and leadership best practices and the need for expansion in these skill areas. More specifically in the areas of entrepreneurship and innovative ecosystem creation there is further discussion needed and next steps are being taken through digital skills training and cross-pollination of resources.

Understanding the Digital Divide & Digital Gap

The Digital Divide (Williams & Hallman, 2001) started in the United States as email terminology used by Larry Irving who was the original head of the National Telecommunications Infrastructure Administration (NTIA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce. In an email exchange, Irving attested that NTIA surveys exposed the digital divide as the social gap between those who have access to and use computers on the internet. The surveys examined telephone penetration and uncovered demographic patterns regarding ICT access and use, particularly between ICT access by White Americans and African Americans. The conclusive report “Falling Through The Net: Defining the Digital Divide (NTIA, 1999)” provides insight into the disparities in telephone penetration known to education stakeholders as the digital gap. Today this encompasses not only North American (White House OST, 2015) socioeconomic patterns but has a global reach affecting billions of individuals and organizations as evidenced by the World Economic Forum (WEF, 2016). A Digital Skills working group has been formed by the Global Connect Initiative to address these issues and devise solutions to promote transparency and openness.

Service Expansion Domestically & Internationally

In North America, development within civic tech groups has engaged for local markets and service expansion is still in construction for rural areas such as California who are still struggling with broadband access (Baller, Stokes, Lide, 2016). International expansion of the Digital Grid System is proposed where a new rural infrastructure is not possible to provide an alternative Smart Grid energy source for disadvantaged geographic areas and for economically challenged communities. There is 57% or some 4.2 billion of the world’s people who still do not enjoy regular access to the Internet. (Broadband Comission, 2015) This Digital Grid will be leveraged in North & East Africa, India and Rural China to power proposed infrastructure.

Inclusivity, Risk Assessment & Due Diligence

Governance and Rights advocacy done by Access Now has leveraged a working human rights framework with several discussion buildouts regarding CVE online, rights quality and avoidance of private industry coercion. (Access Now, 2016) Taking into consideration at-risk youth and marginalized communities where action is needed for advocacy not only in infrastructure connectivity but also in quality and continuum of services.

Further discussions are ongoing regarding societal impacts and building partnerships to educate consumption methodologies that are ethical and adhere to civil standards. Such ethics and governance is extremely important in areas of cybersecurity and financial risk management for online identities, data privacy and economic transactions. Coordination of ethical cybersecurity hygiene programs is needed to facilitate proper online consumer and merchant education and the use of digital financial systems. Some of these are highlighted by the UNODC – United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (AML, UNODC, 2016), GPML – Global Programme Against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime and Financing of Terrorism (State, US Dept of, 2015) and US Department of Treasury (FinCIN) (FINCEN, U.S. Treasury, 2016).

The extent of economic impact, organizational change and sophistication of the digital ecosystem shouldn’t be thwarted by cyberbullying, cyberattacks and predatory financial practices to manipulate emerging markets for competitive advantage. There are next steps needed for compliance remediation for cross-border and borderless payment programs such as those in use by blockchains and smart contracts.

ETHICAL WEAK Focus on Overcoming Systemic Corruption Focus on Building an Ethical Organization
STRONG Focus on Improving Corporate Governance Framework Focus on Compliance, Disseminating Best Practice Experience

Source: Corporate Governance Ethics Metrics, World Bank International Finance Corporation

The World Bank’s IFC (International Finance Corporation) has focus frameworks on Ethics, Anti Corruption and Corporate Governance in handling transactions regarding corrosive drain on public trust and on the legitimacy of public and private sector institutions.

A set of comprehensive ethical solutions to meet the needs of marginalized and disadvantaged communities who may be utilizing internet connectivity for the first time is being constructed to reduce barriers to entry for the connected collaboration economy and maximize communal experiences.

The essence of the digital ecosystem for bringing people online is by creating value through collective intelligence and promoting competitive collaboration that is unbridled of traditional ICT-based catalyst effects in several domains that produce enriched communities and solutions from various stakeholders’ perspectives.

The global startup has begun. Let’s get to work.

Susan Hyon ParkerSusan Hyon Parker

Susan Hyon Parker received her B.S in Computer Science from Robert Morris University. She received her engineering education jointly through Carnegie Mellon University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Nanotechnology. Presently, she is a visiting student at Oxford University.

She has been an instructor with the Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative since its inception in 2001. She is an active member of the IEEE Internet Initiative, IEEE Nanotechnology, IEEE Cybersecurity, IEEE Smart Grid Power & Energy Society. She has been a contributor to the IEEE ETAP Forum and Conferences and has been reviewing papers for the National Academy of Engineering - Engineer Girl Essay Contest.

Her research interests include Sensor and Ad hoc networks, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Cyber Physical Systems, Vehicular Communications, Graphene, Renewable Energy, IoT and Future Internet as well as Propulsion and Aerospace Systems.


Abhik ChaudhuriAbhik Chaudhuri

Abhik earned an Executive MBA from the Indian Institute of Management at Kozhikode. He is a Chevening Fellow in Cyber Security, Privacy and Policy from Cranfield University (U.K.) and Research Fellow of the Cloud Security Alliance, U.S.A. Presently in his 15th year of IT Consulting profession, Abhik is providing thought leadership in developing global security and privacy standards and is a Co-Editor for ISO/IEC JTC1 SC27. He is currently a Domain Consultant with Tata Consultancy Services.


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Dr. Ali Kashif Bashir, Interim Editor-in- Chief
Dr. Syed Hassan Ahmed
Dr. Mudassar Ahmad
Dr. Onur Alparslan
Dr. Muhammad Bilal
Dr. Syed Ahmad Chan Bukhari
Dr. Ankur Chattopadhyay
Dr. Junaid Chaudhry
Dr. Waleed Ejaz
Dr. Yasir Faheem
Dr. Prasun Ghosal
Dr. Tahir Hameed
Dr. Y. Sinan Hanay
Dr. Shagufta Henna
Dr. Fatima Hussain
Dr. Rasheed Hussain
Dr. Saman Iftikhar
Dr. Stephan Jones
Dr. Mohammad Saud Khan
Olga Kiconco
Dr. Jay Ramesh Merja
Dr. Mubashir Husain Rehmani
Dr. Hafiz Maher Ali Zeeshan

About: This newsletter features technical, policy, social, governmental, but not political commentary related to the internet. Its contents reflect the viewpoints of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions and views of IEEE. It is published by the IEEE Internet Initiative to enhance knowledge and promote discussion of the issues addressed.