Can the Digital Economy Ever Be Sustainable?

People First is delighted to share work that is relevant to our initiatives. Mei-Lin Fung is a member of the People Centered Internet and an active, founding member of People First.
Read this article at The World Economic Forum as published on September 19, 2017.

Hurricane Harvey dropped 52 inches of rain and 27 trillion gallons of water on Texas and Louisiana. And a new kind of “All-hands-on-deck” response emerged.
Glenn Reynolds, author of An Army of Davids, writes: “But the real difference isn’t citizens getting involved, it’s the willingness of responsible officials to see that involvement as a plus rather than a potential problem … the excellent record of civilian volunteer responders in the post-9/11 record is behind that willingness.”

The Cajun Navy flotilla of private boat owners demonstrated the value of government, the private sector and regular people working together. The value of such cooperation in earlier disasters like Katrina and Sandy increased the ability to coordinate when Harvey struck.
Traditional global governance is failing. Yet the need for effective collaboration, delivering good performance in the face of new challenges has never been greater. Good governance requires openness, transparency and integrity which are in short supply at a time of rapid economic disruption and social and political change.

As we face the challenge of transforming to a digital economy and society we face a difficult set of risks where the trade-offs for decisions will affect different organizations’ ability to act, as well as education, health and economic opportunity. Yet with the flood of information, many people will have the opportunity to voice their concerns, and face the frustration that their opinions will not be considered, their energy and skills ignored.
Source: Australian National Audit Office
Positive deviance is an approach that harnesses the solutions of people already in the community and spreads the solutions. Outside of the US and Western Europe, local community innovations are changing the future of the digital economy and society.
Positive Deviance in a Nutshell
* Community looks for members who are having success, their approach is more likely to be locally successful
* Local people design a way to spread the new behaviors.
* Finding solutions is the job of everyone on the front line dealing with the problem. Leaders facilitate and spread the successful solutions.
* People track and see that things are getting better in the community, that’s incentive to continue
In Singapore, United Overseas Bank launched BizSmart, an integrated group of five cloud-based digital apps so that SMEs could reduce costs by up to 60%. Business owners can get direct account transaction data flows using one of these apps, Xero
Bulgaria greatly expanded internet usage in 1999 by making it easy for businesses to start being internet service providers. Speeds went up to 1G per second and prices went down to 10 Euros per month.
Meanwhile, Vodafone worked with mobile operators in Africa in 2007. In Kenya Safaricom expanded their loyalty card programme and made it possible for people to use it to transfer money and to access microfinance. This has since spread to Afghanistan, South

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