You may have heard the term ‘digital inclusion’ thrown around lately and wondered if this is just another corporate buzzword. In fact, digital inclusion is what it sounds like, making sure that digital technology is available and usable for everyone rather than a select lucky few.
Factors in Digital Exclusion
This comes down to people’s confidence in using digital technology, having access to the internet and internet-connected devices, plus the accessibility of online services, products, and websites.
According to GOV UK, digital exclusion is most likely to affect:
Those in social housing, 37% of which are excluded
People with disabilities, with 33% having never used the internet
Older people aged over 55 as 69% are without basic digital skills
Young people between 15 - 24 years old
Offenders/ex-offenders, who have a lower risk of reoffending if they have digital skills
These groups represent a significant proportion of society, which just shows how important digital inclusion is, particularly if you run an organisation that provides services for people in these groups.
Why are People Digitally Excluded?
The 2021 UK Consumer Digital Index by Lloyds Bank found that 5% of the population, which is equal to 2.6 million people, hasn’t used the internet in three months.
The top three reasons why were:
Concerns about privacy and security
Worries about identity theft
Finding the internet too complicated to use
Finding a Solution
Promoting an online activity or service that your audience cares about
Sometimes your target audience might avoid accessing your digital services if it isn’t interesting to them, making it seem like a chore.
To combat this, Leicestershire and Rutland councils created a digital e-mentoring program to rehabilitate ex-offenders.
Using this they were given a ‘virtual home’ which held their important personal documents e.g. ID in one place, helping them to integrate back into society and stay in touch with their probation officers.
This then made using digital tools part of their everyday routines, equipping them with more digital confidence.
Partnerships and Collaboration
An effective digital inclusion strategy involves a good deal of collaboration, and this may involve partnering with another team, company, or organisation.
This too can be seen in digital inclusion strategies that have been run by government departments and local councils.
For example, the Department for Education partnered with the Good Things Foundation to run the UK’s largest digital inclusion program.
Since the program started in 2014, it has seen great success with 1 million people having learnt basic digital skills who previously had low confidence in this.
As the top reason for those actively choosing not to access the internet is privacy and security, building trust with your users is important.
Of course, the first step to building that trust is to ensure that your website, hosting, and digital services have a high standard of security and that private data is protected and held securely, following GDPR.
A simple way of demonstrating that this is in place for your users is to have the certificate logo on your website, such as the ICO accreditation, to give peace of mind.
If you need professional advice on your security, we can help you out with security audits and penetration testing to make sure everything is up to speed.
Collect Data for Measurement
It’s all very well having a digital inclusion strategy in place, but if it isn’t helping the people who need it the most then this needs to be solved.
Looking at your current data will also provide you with good benchmarks to see if there are improvements over time.
According to the LGiU, this is even more effective if data is based on key measures and segmented into jurisdiction or demographic to get a deeper understanding.