The 2018 edition of the International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (ICEGOV) took place on Galway, Ireland, between the 4th and 6th of April. It is coordinated by the Operating Unit on Policy-Driven Electronic Governance of the United Nations University. It brings together scholars, policy-makers, and other non-state actors from around the world dealing with issues of electronic governance.
While studying at the Willy Brandt, I have been researching on the field of digital inequalities and electronic governance together with Ph.D. Matías Dodel from the Catholic University of Uruguay. One of the results of this work was the presentation of the paper ‘Digital inequalities’ impact on progressive stages of e-government development’ at ICEGOV 2018.
Most of the theories conceptualizing the development of e-government see it as a process comprising of stages, more or less overlapping. Because e-government interactions differ in complexity, we hypothesized that activities corresponding to the lower stages of e-government development would be less affected by digital and socioeconomic inequalities as opposed to more complex activities. To test our hypothesis, we used the 2016 National Household Survey from the National Statistics Bureau of Uruguay. We conducted a binary logistic regression between the engagement on three different e-government activities increasing in complexity, and classical stratification variables on the field such as gender, age, education level and digital skills, among others. Evidence in support of our hypothesis as a whole was inconsistent, but we found that digital skills have a strong impact on the engagement on e-government activities at the three stages that were analyzed. As a conclusion, we recommend policymakers to invest in raising the level of digital skills of citizens while implementing e-government policies.
During the conference, I had the chance to talk to policymakers and scholars from all over the world dealing with the same issues as me. What is more, the event managed to get together people from both public policy and engineering fields. The interdisciplinary nature of this gathering resulted in a holistic approach to e-government issues.
As an illustrative example, in the paper session, I presented digital inclusion was discussed. From my perspective, digital inclusion meant the use of ICTs and the capitalization of its advantages by all social groups, especially the least advantaged. However, form one of the engineers that presented, digital inclusion meant the adequacy of government websites to the needs of the visually impaired, which implied the use of the right colors, fonts, contrast and a way of communicating the information other than visually.
The diversity of cultures and disciplines I encountered made of ICEGOV an academically enriching experience. I was in contact with amazing people who shared their incredible ideas with me. I am looking forward to keeping researching the topic and the 2019 conference.
For more information about the conference, visit: http://2018.icegov.org/