Ericsson, UNICEF, to map the internet connection of schools in 35 countries
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NEW DELHI: Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson and the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced a global partnership on Wednesday to map the internet connection of schools in 35 countries by the end of 2023.

This joint effort is part of the Giga initiative launched last year, which is led by UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and aims to connect every school to the Internet.

Ericsson is the first private sector partner to commit to the multi-million dollar initiative as a UNICEF global partner for school connectivity mapping.

According to the ITU, 360 million young people currently have no access to the Internet. Improved connectivity will improve access to information, opportunity and choice and allow generations of school children to participate in shaping their own futures.

“In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, school closings combined with limited or nonexistent distance learning opportunities have improved the education of children worldwide,” Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, assistant executive director for partnerships at UNICEF, said in a statement.

“Our partnership with Ericsson will bring us closer to bringing every child and young person access to digital learning opportunities,” added Gornitzka.

In addition to funding, the company will provide resources for data engineering and data science capacity to expedite school connectivity mapping. In particular, Ericsson will assist with the collection, validation, analysis, monitoring and visualization of school connectivity data in real time.

The data generated by the mapping enables governments and the private sector to design and deploy digital solutions that enable learning for children and young people. The telecommunications giant will also be drawing on its extensive customer base to further advance the goals of the Giga initiative.

“Working with partners such as UNICEF and ITU increases the potential impact of school connectivity and is a concrete first step in bridging the digital divide worldwide,” said Heather Johnson, Ericsson vice president of sustainability and corporate responsibility.

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