“We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain.”, said Stephen Hawking famously. While the internet is available for all of us to use, and participate in, access to it has not always been equitable. A five-year, eight-country study recently concluded by the Technology & Social Change Group at the University of Washington Information School has found that community access to computer and Internet technology remains a crucial resource for connecting people to the information and skills they need in an increasingly digital world. Their study finds that many people in low- and middle-income countries, including the underemployed, women, rural residents and other who are often marginalised, derive great benefits in such areas as education, employment, safety and health when they use computers and the Internet at public access venues.
In an increasingly digital world, access to internet has become as integral as access to necessities like electricity and water. Recognising this need, the Aam Aadmi Party included this in their campaign manifesto in 2015. This week, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal fulfilled that promise by officially launching Free WiFi in Delhi as a “lifeline service”. Citywide WiFi will help in bridging the digital divide. It will also provide an impetus to education, entrepreneurship, business, employment, and also tie in with policies created to keep women safe in Delhi.
A rental model of providing Wi-Fi shall be adopted to provide Wi-Fi connectivity at all bus stops, shelters and Metro stations in remote zones. Every Assembly Constituency shall also consult with RWAs and Market Associations to add public spaces like parks, tourist centres, Mohalla Clinics. Every Hotspot will be able to support 150-200 concurrent users and the data limit per user will be kept at 15 GB per month.
The deadline for the proposed infrastructure has been set for September 2020. This infrastructure will cover almost the entire inhabitable 750 square kilometre region of Delhi, thus creating an unprecedented equity in internet access.
With this step, Aam Aadmi Party has fit in the final piece of the puzzle of Delhi’s holistic development, as envisaged by them in their party manifesto in 2015. None of these policies are random or disconnected. They are all inter-linked and designed to maximise the potential and happiness of every citizen of Delhi. Today, the citizens of Delhi are one step closer to being a art
of the giant, magical, global digital brain, as described by Mr. Hawking.