Designing social technology for rural areas

By | August 12, 2019

When we think about the technological divide between urban and rural communities, our minds likely go to infrastructure—a lack of a physical grid, wiring, or towers to connect those in remote communities.

While this is a large part of the issue, School of Information doctoral student Jean Hardy says a bigger concern is the lack of innovation in the way technological platforms are designed, which currently favors the urban. The tech products that emerge from so-called “superstar cities” such as San Francisco and New York take an urban-centric approach to the technological needs of everyday people, creating hand-me-down solutions that just don’t work in rural settings.

Hardy says the funding model driving social technology design has concentrated the wealth from innovation into the hands of very few and that locally driven, nonprofit models of social technology are best served to address the needs of smaller populations.