Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as a Public Good: Community Building and Expanding U.S. Self-Sufficiency Policy

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The presence of information and communication technologies, in particular the Internet, has the potential to be leveraged to address some of society’s most persistent social challenges. This paper and presentation, through the case study of Internet use at Camfield Estates, a low-income housing development in Boston, Massachusetts, argues that public policy should view information and communication technology access as a public good for community building and self-sufficiency. The presentation examines U.S. historical policy efforts to assist low-income individuals and families. It takes on the social–antisocial debate and effects of Internet use for community building. It also presents some of the findings from the Camfield Estates–MIT Creating Community Connections Project and analyzes its meaning for nearly 40 low-income families that were equipped with a personal computer and two years of high-speed Internet connectivity.


Keywords: Information and Communication Technology, ICT, Internet, Digital Divide, Self-Sufficiency, Public Good, Camfield Estates
Stream: Technology in Community
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as a Public Good


Dr. Richard O'Bryant

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Northeastern University
Boston, MA, USA

Dr Richard Louis O’Bryant, at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Urban and Regional Policy. His most recent research activity includes the establishment of the “Connect-The-Disconnected” Initiative (www.ConnectTheDisconnected.com) which will identify national and international efforts focused on connecting marginalized members of society to information, resources and social and political networks. Dr O’Bryant’s courses include Science, Technology and Public Policy, Urban Policies and Politics, Current Issues in Cities and Suburbs and Economic Institutions and Analysis. His publications include; Build it, but they may not come … Unless, an essay reviewing Boston’s efforts to become a wireless municipality reviewed and published in 2006 on the Center for Urban and Regional Policy website. Professor O'Bryant served as co-principal investigator of the Camfield Estates/MIT Project, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which included making wireless connectivity available to residents of Camfield Estates, located in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He was one of five recipients of the 2002-2003 National Rising Scholars Award to Advance Research on Higher Education for the Public Good. He received his undergraduate degree in computer systems engineering from Howard University and a Ph.D. in urban and regional studies from MIT in 2004. He can be contacted at r.o'bryant@neu.edu.

Ref: T08P0438