Policymaking Process and ICT
expensive. The second more pessimistic view holds that socially disadvantaged
groups will not obtain access to the Internet, and this will halt Internet diffusion
before it can reach 100%. The more optimistic view is the classic diffusion of in-
novations pattern where there is slow initial adoption, a surge in the middle, and
slowing adoption near the saturation point. The more pessimistic view holds the
same pattern, but there will be no saturation point at the top of the curve. Empirical
evidence for the digital divide shows that when comparing the United States with
European countries, income is important for understanding the digital divide in the
United States. In fact, income was the most distinctive source of inequality in the
odds of someone using the Internet in America (Martin and Robinson, 2007).
Research shows an urban–rural digital divide in Canada, with the odds of using
the Internet almost two times more likely for someone who lives in an urban area
than for someone who lives in a rural area (Noce and McKeown, 2008). This finding
makes it difficult to separate out other important determinates noted in the litera-
ture, such as social economic status of the individual, skills to access the Internet,
and infrastructure differences between urban and rural areas that impede access.
Belanger and Carter (2009) identified two major types of digital divides of
e-government users, the access divide and the skills divide. Lack of access is
the most common one identified in the literature; however, there is a substantial
percentage of the population that may not have the skills necessary to interact
with government online. The skills digital divide can be further broken down into
technical competence and information literacy. Technical competence is the skills
needed to do such things as operate hardware, software, typing, and use a mouse.
When using e-government, the information literacy is the ability to use information
effectively to make decisions. One of the greatest challenges facing individuals
when accessing government information is the ability to read and interpret infor-
mation effectively.
Research on the global digital divide of an analysis of 118 countries and Internet
use between 1997 and 2001 found support that it is a result of socioeconomic status
and regulatory, political, and sociological variables (Guillen and Suarez, 2005).
Therefore, this research essentially shows it is difficult to simplify the digital di-
vide: what happens in one country could be different in another country. The United
States, for instance, has a more stable regulatory system that promotes Internet use;
other countries may not have these policies, which would have an impact on the
digital divide. The digital divide is essential to know in order to understand politi-
cal participation, because certain groups will not have access to participate online.
Policymaking Process and ICT
Five stages of the policymaking life cycle can be related to e-participation (Figure 3-4).
There is a direct link in each of these stages between information, consultation,
and participation and how ICT can be used in the development of these stages
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