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2018 - Any Thing for Anyone? A New Digital Divide in Internet-of-Things Skills


Van Deursen, A.J.A.M. & Mossberger, K. (2018). Any Thing for Anyone? A New Digital Divide in Internet-of-Things Skills. Policy and Internet, 10(2), 122-140.


The “Internet-of-Things” (IoT) promises many potential social benefits across a range of policy areas, such as energy, health, transportation, public safety, and environmental policy to name but a few. We argue that attention to the skills needed by individuals is an important issue for public policy, to fully exploit these technologies, and to avoid unintended consequences. We also expect comparative advantages to increase based on differentiated skills and resources, enabling smaller groups of people to benefit, and disadvantaging others in new ways. This need for renewed attention to digital skills and knowledge at first seems paradoxical, given that many of these technologies operate autonomously and behind the scene. We discuss evolving digital technologies and related skills, and explain from a systems perspective how IoT differs from prior technologies, for policymakers as well as individuals, who must anticipate the consequences of technology use in complex systems. This places a premium on knowledge and sophisticated skills, such as strategic skills. Finally, we bring the issues of the digital divide and IoT skills together and set an agenda for future research on IoT, as well as for public policy.

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