“But that’s why you are seeing more domains registered in these communities. They also have higher access to digital literacy because of that. When you talk about the digital divide, it’s not only about access issues, it’s about how people are able to use internet.” says Napier
DigitalNWT and CIRA have partnered to use CIRA’s Internet Performance Test to provide neutral data on the exact access speeds N.W.T. residents are experiencing. According to Napier, DigitalNWT has found that 28 of the territory’s 33 communities are underserved in regard to digital connectivity and broadband internet access.
It turns out, the distribution of registered .CA domains, as well as Internet Performance Testing (IPT), may provide a view into the landscape of a whole host of issues including internet access, usage, digital literacy and equity in those communities.
“There are communities who can’t even take the CIRA internet performance test because the low bandwidth version isn’t available. That tells me a lot about where the work really needs to get done. That really reveals who doesn’t have access and who remains without equitable participation to digital spaces. In an age where COVID necessitates tele health, tele education, and e-commerce… the concern shouldn’t be ‘can you hear me?’ it should be ‘can we meet and work towards our common goals?’” says Napier.
Napier knows from experience that underserved and underrepresented communities are at risk of falling behind. Tools are always evolving, and residents are further excluded from digital opportunities if they aren’t given access to the digital technologies that enable culturally adapted participation online. “One concern I have is, by the time the community catches up to access, the online environment will be dominated by a hegemonic worldview that doesn’t represent their community, and it will be an uphill battle to create our own digital resources on our own terms,” says Napier.