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 Digital Inclusion Strategy:
- 21% of Britain’s population lack the basic digital skills and capabilities required to realise the benefits of the internet;
- Around a third of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) don’t have a website, rising to 50% of 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 ranked against five suggested risk indicators (older age, low income, disability, low adult skills, and poor broadband speed). A combined ranking (based on ‘rank of average rank’) presents an overall Somerset picture.
Somerset Digital Exclusion ‘heat map’ (click to enlarge)
The heatmap suggests that there are communities located throughout Somerset at high risk of digital exclusion, in both rural and urban areas. Much of West Somerset appears to be at particularly high risk.
It is intended that these maps and local understanding of digital exclusion will be further developed through additional data and research.
Additional Information (external links):
Connecting Devon and Somerset - includes an interactive map detailing the planned roll-out of 'superfast' broadband within Somerset
Digital Inclusion Group for Somerset (DIGS)
Digital Skills and Inclusion – HotSW Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)
Go ON UK digital skills charity