Bridging the digital divide still an issue for a certain sector of Canadian society

There’s a lot to digest at this year’s GTEC. But I noticed the subject of bridging the digital divide isn’t on the menu. Maybe we figure we’ve done all the bridging in Canada we need to do through public library Internet access. But there’s still a sector of society in this country that doesn’t even

have phone service, let alone high-speed access, and many of them live on the streets. That makes it tough to get a job and a place to live, needless to say. I recently read about the Community Voice Mail project, based in the U.S., which provides homeless people with free voice mail so prospective employers, landlords and family members can get in touch with them. According to AP, the project has grown to 37 cities and helped more than 47,000 people find housing and jobs last year alone.

The service, paid for by local social service agencies such as soup kitchens, costs US$7 a month — a bargain compared to what we now spend on tackling the homeless issue. It’s a simple, bite-sized and at least partial solution to a big problem. It’s also the kind of innovation I hope to see at this year’s conference. See you there.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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