Newsletter Issue No. 4 2020

The Annual Meeting brings together Broadband Commissioners – leaders across ICTs sectors to discuss the newly released State of Broadband Report 2020 (#SoBB2020): “Tackling Digital Inequalities: A Decade For Action” and to devise a plan to deliver on the 2030 Agenda. In this milestone report Commissioners confront the realities of the year as the world faces a pandemic disrupting Global and local economies, healthcare and education systems. Working Group Chairs will present publications bringing to the forefront the crucial role that broadband plays in connecting the world and keeping societies safe, strong and healthy. Together we will continue our work towards universal connectivity, making sure to leave no one behind. 

Access the meeting agenda here.

 

In the wake of the global health pandemic, and with less than ten years remaining to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, now is the time to make digital the fundamental foundation of our shared Global Goals. Digital has emerged as the hidden hero of this unprecedented global crisis – for those who have access. The crisis and its widespread serious socio-economic impacts have underscored the urgency of concrete and coordinated actions across sectors and geographies. 

The Commission passionately believes that achieving universal digital connectivity will be essential for achieving the 17 SDGs and making good on our pledge to Leave No-one Behind.


Stay tuned for more information on the 2020 Broadband Commission Manifesto

AI & Health

The report of the Working Group for AI & Health, entitled “Reimagining Global Health through Artificial Intelligence: The Roadmap to AI Maturity” holds that while low- and middle income countries may have the most to gain from the radical potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to transform health systems, they may also have the most to lose.

“AI-powered solutions are participating in more and more medical tasks traditionally performed by healthcare practitioners. AI capabilities can assist with tasks performed by highly skilled medical workers and tasks that go beyond human cognition (e.g., processing big data to diagnose illness), as well as tasks that support humans but are often subject to inattention, cause fatigue, or are physically difficult to perform. Across the entire care spectrum, AI capabilities in healthcare are performing hard work… Yet, there are also risks associated with the use of AI in health, particularly for vulnerable populations, youth, and children. Successful integration of AI into health and care delivery depends on appropriate risk management processes that have been defined and operationalized for AI development, deployment, and continuous improvement.”

Read the report here.

School Connectivity

The report of the Working Group on School Connectivity, entitled “The Digital Transformation of Education” identifies a set of core principles, which aim to help governments and other interested stakeholders to develop more holistic school connectivity plans. It focuses on school connectivity and introduces a methodology and framework for connecting primary and secondary schools to the Internet based on a four pillars approach: map, connect, finance and empower. 

Report planned to be published September 2020

Freedom of Expression & Disinformation

The report of the Working Group on Freedom of Expression and Addressing Disinformation on the Internet, entitled Balancing Act: Responding to Disinformation and Defending Freedom of Expression” focuses on how States, companies, institutions and organisations around the world are responding to the disinformation phenomenon, broadly conceived. The work includes a novel typology, making holistic sense of the disinformation crisis on an international scale, including during COVID-19. It also provides a tool to assess disinformation responses, including their impact on freedom of expression.

Report planned to be published September 2020

This year’s State of Broadband Report reflects the realities of 2020 as the world has confronted a global pandemic that has disrupted Global and local economies, healthcare systems, education and most pertinently brought to the forefront the crucial role that broadband plays in connecting the world and keeping societies strong and healthy.

“As the Broadband Commission reaches its ten-year milestone and recognizing that only a decade remains for the global community to reach the SDGs, the 2020 State of Broadband report provides an important venue to reflect on progress made in directing broadband internet deployment for social development and economic growth across the world. And the challenge of this unprecedented global pandemic has demonstrated the unquestionable centrality of access to connectivity for all in order to effect sustainable development, economic growth, environmental sustainability and social inclusion. COVID-19 also uncovered and highlighted the inequalities among and within countries, and the urgency of accelerating achieving the goal of universal access to broadband connectivity. This serves as an opportunity to re-commit the Broadband Commission and the global community in leveraging information and communications technologies to accelerate interventions for human progress, as exemplified by the considerable beneficial interventions initiated by the Commission’s own members during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The achievement of the SDGs will require affordable, ubiquitous and meaningful broadband connectivity with the associated essential competencies and applications.

The full report will be released at our annual fall meeting on 18 September 2020

Within the context of the 10th anniversary celebration of the ITU UNESCO Broadband Commission on Sustainable Development and complementing the State of Broadband 2020 edition, case studies were prepared highlighting initiatives taken by contributing Commissioners to making an impact in two areas:  supporting progress towards the achievements of the Commission’s 2025 targets, and in implementing the Commission’s Response to COVID-19 Agenda for Action identifying lessons learned so far for better preparedness.

The full report will be released at our annual fall meeting on 18 September 2020

Reimagining Global Health through Artificial Intelligence: The Roadmap to AI Maturity by Ann Aerts of the Novartis Foundation

I am excited to share the newly released report from the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development Working Group on Digital and AI in Health – co-chaired by the Novartis Foundation and Microsoft.

Titled Reimagining Global Health through Artificial Intelligence: The Roadmap to AI Maturity, our report clearly demonstrates that AI offers the greatest opportunity to transform health systems from being reactive to proactive, predictive, and even preventive. From global pandemics to health worker shortages, the world is facing growing challenges that call for game-changing capabilities that only AI can offer. Yet, although AI is revolutionizing healthcare, it should not replace humans and health workers but rather enhance capabilities. Humans and machines should work together to improve patient outcomes, strengthen health systems, and drive progress toward universal health coverage (UHC).

Low- and middle-income countries that grapple with systemic health challenges (shortage of health workers, dual burden of disease, underserved populations, rapid urbanization, disinformation, etc.) have the most to gain from AI – but they also have the most to lose. For example, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic shows how global health is now data-dependent. However, most countries still need to build these data or make available data interoperable, and governments who do not invest risk widening existing health inequities in their populations.

The Roadmap to AI Maturity is the third report in a series that began in 2017 with a blueprint for how the technology sector, health leaders, and policy-makers could collaborate to digitize health systems. Our 2018 report then outlined recommendations for digital solutions to address noncommunicable diseases. The new report builds on that previous work to offer practical recommendations for how countries can realize mature use of AI in their health systems.

It presents five use cases of how AI is already successfully addressing global and public health priorities, strengthening health systems, and improving outcomes for patients in: population health; R&D; clinical care pathways; patient-facing solutions; and optimization of health operations.

Before assessing whether AI offers solutions tailored to their needs, countries must first identify the health problems they want to address. Only then can they prioritize the six steps needed to reach AI maturity in health: people and workforce; data and technology; governance and regulatory; design and processes; partnerships and stakeholders; and business models.

To fight health challenges, we need to systematically integrate AI-enabled tools into healthcare delivery; without AI, UHC will not be achieved. Policy-makers, donors, private companies, and other stakeholders should work together to foster an AI-enabling environment that enables them to accelerate the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 3 and health for all.

Download The Roadmap to AI Maturity here


Forbes Article: UNICEF And ITU’s Giga Initiative Aims To Connect The World’s Schools To The Internet by Sarah Ferguson

This article addresses the serious effect that the COVID19 pandemic has had on global education systems, focusing on how remote learning not only requires access to resilient broadband connectivity but also necessitates technology like computers or alternatives like TV or radio to reach learners.

Highlighted in the article is the joint work of ITU and UNICEF in launching the Giga initiative. The mission of this initiative is to connect every school in the world to the Internet and every student information, opportunity and choice by 2030.

“Digital technologies can dramatically improve the lives of people and communities and deliver on the promise of the United Nations Agenda 2030 to leave no one behind,” says Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. “Multi-stakeholder collaboration and partnership will be key to connecting the 3.6 billion people still off-line. We all have to work together and increase our efforts to bring technology to the people, in every area and every walk of life.”

Continue reading here.

Broadband Commission Annual Meeting 18 September

The Annual Meeting brings together Broadband Commissioners – leaders across ICTs sectors to discuss the newly released State of Broadband Report 2020 (#SoBB2020): “Tackling Digital Inequalities: A Decade For Action” and to devise a plan to deliver on the 2030 Agenda. In this milestone report Commissioners confront the realities of the year as the world faces a pandemic disrupting Global and local economies, healthcare and education systems. Working Group Chairs will present publications bringing to the forefront the crucial role that broadband plays in connecting the world and keeping societies safe, strong and healthy. Together we will continue our work towards universal connectivity, making sure to leave no one behind.

United Nations General Assembly 22 September – 2 October

The UN General Assembly, led by its President, has been carrying out its work via novel means to guarantee business continuity and mitigate the spread of the disease.

Year in year out, every September, Member States have met in the General Assembly Hall at Headquarters in New York for the annual session and its highly visible general debate. The modalities of the 75th session will however differ in light of the global health crisis.

WEF Sustainable Development Impact Summit 21—24 September 2020

Taking place in the context of the United Nations General Assembly, the World Economic Forum’s fourth and, for the first time, fully virtual Sustainable Development Impact Summit will convene leaders from government, business, international organizations and civil society along with a diverse group of experts and innovators to initiate, accelerate and scale-up entrepreneurial solutions to tackle climate change and advance sustainable development.

Global Digital Cooperation Event Series 23 September 

“Digital Cooperation: Action Today for Future Generations” will be convened by the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, UNICEF and Generation Unlimited, the International Telecommunications Union, UNDP, and the Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Digital Cooperation. This high-level virtual event will focus on concrete actions to safeguard the technological era for future generations. It is our global shared responsibility to find a path forward and to build back better digitally.

EQUALS Awards

The Equals in Tech Awards are given every year to organizations and individuals working to help girls and women gain equal internet access, digital skills and opportunities in the tech industry.