A new TIME100 Talks convened leaders from every field to spotlight the importance of advancing digital equity
Earlier this year, I spent time with Verizon chairman and chief executive officer Hans Vestberg, who argued that digital inclusion is an essential value for modern life. Having access to online tools for learning, education, healthcare, financial services and more is what enables people to fully participate in society, no matter where in the world people are born or live. This is one of the reasons that TIME decided to remove the paywall on Time.com, which has enabled us to bring free access to our trusted journalism to readers worldwide—including our current audience of 120 million, the largest in our history
Last week, as the United Nations General Assembly convened, I sat down with Vestberg again at a special TIME100 Talks event, presented in partnership with Verizon, to discuss closing the digital divide, the importance of promoting digital inclusion, and tangible solutions to tackle this global issue. These goals can only be achieved if people from all walks of life work together, and connectivity is what can make that happen. I discussed these issues with Vestberg and Founding Partner of Integrum Holdings and Chairwoman at Teneo Holdings Ursula Burns in front of an audience of dynamic leaders, including President of MSNBC Rashida Jones, Executive Director and CEO of The White House Partnership for Central America Jonathan Fantini-Porter, Founder of Tony Elumelu Foundation and Chairman of United Bank for Africa Tony Elumelu, and many more to focus on the critical importance of digital equity and ultimately highlight some solutions we can all enact to close the digital divide.
“The idea of equity is important because if you don't have access to information, you can't make informed decisions,” Vestberg said during our conversation. “If you don't have access to information, you can't help shape the future of the world that we're living in. And so this is imperative for us.”
“People need access that's affordable and relatively complete immediately, and that's what this is,” Burns said. “We need to build infrastructure, but private for-profit companies would not be able to bear this burden alone, you need governments to help.”
Our audience was left with reflections on actionable steps to close the digital divide, including building coalitions, increased digital literacy, and working to better understand the unique connectivity challenges that exist around the world.
“We citizens have to be more engaged than ever before on this topic,” Burns said. “We can’t let this go.”
On behalf of TIME, we are grateful for Verizon’s partnership and to Vestberg and Burns, along with all of our event guests, for leading this important conversation—one that we will continue to focus on in our coverage and in our business at TIME.
Learn more about my conversation with Vestberg here.
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