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  • Writer's pictureDr. Roberta Borgen (Neault), Canada

UN World Telecommunication & Information Society Day - 17 May SDGs/Global Goals 1 through 10

Join us in celebrating World Telecommunication & Information Society Day, 17 May - WTISD, one of the UN’s recognized international days.

This year, the focus of this special day will be on the “important role of telecommunications/ICTs in supporting people to stay healthy, connected and independent, physically, emotionally and financially – to a life of healthy ageing – and as critical for the sustainability of economic and health systems.”

My first real “career” was as a telephone operator, from the time I was 16 – 22 as I completed high school and my first university degree. That was long before the age of mobile phones – even before pagers! Back then, telephone operators played a key role in helping people to stay connected and to access services from the safety of their homes. Now, many people carry a phone with them everywhere they go. Many use it more to text than to talk. It’s used to find information on the Internet, get directions, share information with others, as well as to send messages and make calls.

Linking to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, telecommunication and information systems clearly fit with SDG9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure). From a career development perspective, however, one can see links with most, perhaps all, of the SDGs. Think of the new work facilitated by apps that support the gig economy (SDG1), bring food directly to our homes (SDG2), track our fitness, or enhance our mental health and wellbeing (SDG3). Think of all the careers related to e-learning (SDG4) and how technology-assisted working and learning from home has opened up career opportunities for family caregivers who generally tend to be women (SDG5). Think of all of the information systems supporting access to clean water and sanitation (SDG6) and affordable and clean energy (SDG7) – for example, my electricity supplier has gamified reducing use of electricity, and regularly sends information that facilitates comparison of use month-to-month or between similar homes within a community. Jobs related to telecommunications and information systems have contributed to decent work and economic growth (SDG8) and, as previously mentioned, industry, innovation, and infrastructure (SDG9) and infrastructure improvements have reduced inequalities (SDG10) by improving access to information and work/learning opportunities. Similarly, telecommunication and information systems are integrally connected to each of the other SDGs.

This year, in particular, this UN special day is focusing on healthy aging. Perhaps take a moment with a few older members of your family or community to help them become more comfortable with the technologies available to them. If they have a mobile phone, perhaps help them download an app for ordering groceries or calling a taxi; if they are struggling with the number of remotes required to operate their television, perhaps take the time to write out clear instructions. Technology can make our lives easier – or infinitely more scary and confusing. You can make the “easier” option a reality for people you care about.


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