As the COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented trials experienced by almost every population in the way of public health, food systems, businesses and families, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have helped to mitigate many challenges. The hope of the many academic research efforts taken during this time will help those in civic authority understand these impacts as civic leaders make decisions about the areas of society and the community that need emergency funds and how to allocate future expenditures to best serve the populations within the community. At-risk populations that have limited or no access to the Internet / ICT or who lack the skills to effectively use it can fall into a state of social isolation which prior research has shown can have costly health implications such as an increase in cardiac disease, diabetes and liver disease which is due to lack of exercise and depression brought on by the isolation. An investment in ICT now will strengthen communities and families. This research in progress paper investigates the barriers to getting ICT to at-risk populations and the present and future costs to society for failing to do so. Finally, several implications will be extracted, particularly those that will become part of a Strategic Framework that can be implemented in every city across the United States to pinpoint at-risk populations and define the best remedies per demographic to bridge the digital divide so that every population is connected to their caregiver network and the latest health information.
Osborn, Sheri; Rao, H. Raghav; Hariharan, Govind; Mathew, Bijo; Enriquez, Roger; Valecha, Rohit; Han, David; and Reddick, Christopher, "Community Investment in the Digital Divide Pays Dividends for Years to Come" (2021). GlobDev 2021. 10.