The US has topped the latest Networked Readiness Index from the World Economic Forum, part of the Global Information Technology Report. Last year's number one, Singapore, has slipped to number two.
The top ten countries are:
- United Kingdom
You can see the complete rankings here.
The Index is composed of three components related to ICT (Information and Communication Technology),
- The environment for ICT offered by a given country or community;
- The readiness of the community's key stakeholders - individuals, business and governments;
- and the usage of ICT among these stakeholders.
One of the report authors and Chief Economist, Augusto Lopez-Claros, said,
The US has been an ICT powerhouse for the last many years. It has an enormous pipeline of innovation, leading research institutions, extremely level of collaboration between industry, academic world and business community. Their first place is an acknowledgement of the tremendous progress they have made over the last ten years in this area.
Information and Communications Technology readiness and usage is critical for developing countries. Unfortunately, one sees them appear down the table in these rankings every year. The authors note, "Future prosperity seems increasingly to be as much a function of investment in human capital and the technologies that will enhance productivity, as it is of investment in physical capital and infrastructure."
Countries like India, China, and Israel have begun to see seismic economic shifts as a result of ICT investments and business growth. Israel is covered in a case study in the report, with the note,
Our case study sought to understand better the role that government policies have played to unleash the astonishing development of the high-tech sector in Israel. During the decade of the 1990s, despite ongoing concerns for basic security, Israel took full advantage of its high educational levels, skilled immigrants, and capacity for innovation to cultivate the ICT sector, which grew 16 per cent per year and increased its GDP participation from 5 to 14 percent.
Other sections cover India ("India must recognize the close connection between ICT policies and economic and social development, both of which lag far behind in the country."), and the miracle of Chile and Taiwan, which pioneered the usage of human capital as its competitive advantage.
It is indisputable that the Digital Divide means a sense of 'cautious optimism' must prevail over unbridled excitement for the future, but the universality of technology as a transforming social force is reason enough to hope that the Flat World will help bridge gaps across the Divide.