Digital Inclusion is ensuring that everyone has access to and the skills to use information and communication technology. In 2014, the coalition government published a Digital Inclusion Strategy, which summarised the benefits as follows:
“Being digitally capable can make a significant difference to individuals and organisations day to day. For individuals, this can mean cutting household bills, finding a job, or maintaining contact with distant friends and relatives. For organisations, going online can provide ways to reach more customers and reduce operating costs. The internet also provides broader benefits, by helping to address wider social and economic issues like reducing isolation and supporting economic growth.”
The national picture
According to the 2014 Digital Inclusion Strategy:
- 21% of Britain’s population lacked the basic digital skills and capabilities required to realise the benefits of the internet;
- Around a third of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) didn’t have a website. The figure was 50% for voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs).
The Somerset picture
To help understand digital inclusion at a neighbourhood level, the Somerset Intelligence Partnership developed a ‘heat map’ to identify areas at higher risk of being digitally excluded. Based on nationally published data, each Somerset neighbourhood (LSOA) has been scored against five suggested risk indicators (older age, low income, disability, low adult skills, and poor broadband speed).
The picture has changed significantly since the Digital Inclusion Strategy was published in 2014 and the heat map first created in 2015, with availability of high speed internet in Somerset increasingly dramatically. However there are still areas which see many properties' internet connections falling below the Universal Service Obligation (the minimum affordable broadband connection which everyone is entitled to receive). Internet speeds are just one part of the Digital Inclusion picture and even in areas which comprehensively meet the Universal Service Obligation, a lack of skills, capabilities and resources can still leave residents digitally excluded.
The heat map was updated in 2020 to reflect the most recent data sets. The two maps below both use the same heat map colouring to represent the risk of digital exclusion in Somerset LSOAs. The hex grid on the right is a way of representing LSOA level data by standardising the size of all LSOAs. This allows geographically small but densely populated urban areas to be compared easily to sparsely populated rural areas. The chloropleth map on the left uses the same colour coding, but shows LSOAs true to size. Individual heat maps for the five indicators which have been used to calculate the Digital Inclusion score can be viewed using the arrows below
Somerset Digital Inclusion heat map 2020
The heat map suggests that whilst the majority of areas in Somerset are at low risk of digital exclusion, there are still some communities at a high risk.
To create this heat map and analysis of digital inclusion within Somerset, four nationally available data sources have been used to provide five measures for each LSOA within Somerset:
- Percentage of population aged 65+(ONS mid-year population estimates 2019)
- Percentage of population living with a disability which limits day to day activity (Census 2011)
- Percentage of properties not able to receive the Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband speeds. The USO is the minimum speed of broadband which all properties are entitled to receive, currently 10Mbit/s download speeds and 1Mbit/s upload speeds (OFCOM Connected Nations 2019 update)
- IMD score for Income domain (English Indices of Deprivation 2019)
- IMD score for Adult skills domain (English Indices of Deprivation 2019)
For each of these five measures a z-score has been calculated representing how far each LSOA deviates from the mean value within Somerset for that measure. To produce a combined total score to represent the overall risk of digital exclusion in each LSOA, the z-scores for the five measures have been combined.
Additional Information (external links):
Connecting Devon and Somerset
Digital Skills and Inclusion blog