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Charity unveils Heatmap to target digital exclusion

22 October 2015

Rachel Neaman, Chief Executive of Big Lottery Fund partner Go ON UK, tells us how the country’s first Digital Exclusion Heatmap will help target help to digitally excluded people across the UK.

Rachel Neaman

Despite the pace of technological developments and the growing reliance on digital in our society, 12.6 million adults, 1.2m SMEs and over half of all charities in the UK lack even the basic skills needed to benefit from the digital age. This makes them unable to do the things that many of us take for granted: shopping online, downloading music or apps, applying for a job, finding information, or simply keeping in touch with family and friends. On a larger scale, this has major implications for the UK’s productivity and global competitiveness, as well as for social mobility and financial inclusion.

So what are we doing about it? We’ve just launched the first ever Digital Exclusion Heatmap of the UK, using a number of indicators to show where and who is affected – and why. For the first time, you can now see the likely level of digital exclusion at local authority level right across the UK, including brand new figures on levels of basic digital skills levels of Basic Digital Skills collected for Go ON UK by Ipsos Mori in association with Lloyds Banking Group.

The heatmap shows that there is no single cause of digital exclusion, and therefore no one-size-fits-all solution either. So to help local authorities and other organisations to tackle the problem, we have launched a Beta version of Go ON Local, our new online community toolkit and collaborative platform. Alongside a wide range of resources, you can create groups, promote events, ask questions and make offers of support.

Clearly, the digital skills crisis is not something that one organisation can solve alone. I am delighted that our Board partner, Big Lottery Fund, has given £5.8 million to the Royal National Institute of Blind People for their Online Today programme, and £2 million to the One Digital consortium to create 1,400 digital champions to help thousands of people get online. This support is invaluable, and by using the heatmap to identify where these resources are most needed, we can ensure the funding is used to best effect.

Together, the Digital Exclusion Heatmap and Go ON Local will go a long way towards helping policy-makers and digital inclusion organisations identify the reasons for exclusion in their areas and the right solutions to address them. We will continue to add information to the map to provide greater insights and to develop Go ON Local based on user feedback.

If you are a local group or organisation who wants to help get your community online, sign up to Go ON Local and start to make the difference! We would love to hear your feedback.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jemic permalink
    22 October 2015 11:17 am

    It is hardly surprising to see that the areas of most exclusion coincide with remote rural areas. Living in one such place we have a broadband speed of 1.4 Mbps (on a good day) and only a (poor) 2G mobile signal (hence no mobile web). The experience of trying to use digital tools with such limited connection is somewhat depressing.

    Better to use these results to get BT to cover 100% of households instead of resting on the target (sic) of 98%. And similarly too for the mobile companies. Perhaps if we get a decent digital infrastructure, then we’d show less exclusion! Simple really….

    So what’s your strategy for achieving this? Education won’t do it alone.

  2. 23 October 2015 8:51 am

    Thank you for your comment. Infrastructure is a major factor in digital exclusion, which is why it was included as an indicator in the Heatmap. However other factors are also important in tackling the issue. For example, we need to ensure that everyone also has the required skills to benefit from the internet.

    We hope that the Digital Exclusion Heatmap will be used to better identify what the problems are and where they lie, so that resources and funding can be channelled more effectively.

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