News / Science & Technology

    Global Technology Report Notes Increased Digital Divide

    Co-author of the Global Technology Report Soumitra Dutta. (World Economic Forum/Ben Hider )
    Co-author of the Global Technology Report Soumitra Dutta. (World Economic Forum/Ben Hider )
    Adam Phillips
    Cornell University and the World Economic Forum have released their 13th Global Information Technology Report 2014.  It ranks 148 of the world’s nations according to how effectively they use information and communication technology to increase their global economic competitiveness.     

    For several years, Western nations have dominated the top spots in the report’s “Networked Readiness Index.”  It compares nations according to their degree of Internet connectivity, the ease of access by businesses, governments and individuals, and other factors.  Finland, Singapore, Sweden, the Netherlands and Norway occupied the first five spots, while Switzerland, the United States, Hong Kong, Britain and South Korea were next.

    Researchers also discovered that the gap between emerging and developed economies has widened, not narrowed, over the past year, even though access to technology like mobile phones and personal computers has vastly increased in the developing world over the same period.

    “It’s not just the question of whether you have a mobile phone,” said Cornell University’s Soumitra Dutta, who co-founded the report, and co-edited this year’s edition. "But does the environment in the country, does the educational system in the country, does the political and business environment in the country support the use of technology to create new economic value?"

    Some countries maintained their position or moved up slightly in their relative ranking; but that simply isn’t good enough in today’s world of information technology, according to Jeff Campbell of Cisco, a multinational corporation specializing in computer networking.

    “Everybody is improving their infrastructure," he said. "Everybody is improving their business utilization and their government utilization of technology, and the countries that aren’t running fast aren’t going to keep up with everybody else.  It’s very real because this is about competitiveness for the future, not only in the IT industry, but also in everything."

    Campbell pointed to the growing so-called “Internet of Things,” in which computers connect and direct tools in physical, non-cyber domains, such as farming, "where you can uses sensors in agriculture that will be in the fields that will tell you how much moisture there is in the soil, how much nitrogen, whether you need to re-fertilize, whether you need to water.”  Campbell added that, in a world with less water, using the water resources and agriculture more efficiently will provide higher yields and lower costs and be better for the environment.

    “That takes technology. Places that adopt, that are going to be more efficient and more effective, it’s going to improve their economy and change that world,” he said.

    Campbell said this applies to the factory as well as the farm.  “If you can use data and sensors about where your inventory is, where your orders are coming from in order to automatically ensure you have the right supplies to manufacture in the right ways, you’re going to be more efficient and you’re going to win in the marketplace globally.”

    The report also found disparities within regions and even within nations.  This also was true within large economies like the U.S., where the economic disparity between people working in high-tech businesses and those in traditional jobs has generally widened.

    You May Like

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    Iran Orders Social Media Sites to Store Data Inside Country

    New requirements are expected to affect the instant messaging app Telegram, which has more than 20 million users inside Iran

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora