A digital inclusion strategy for London
“Social integration is an important priority that cuts across all policy areas. If we are to achieve it, we need to tackle inequality. We need to build strong communities, and enable all Londoners to actively participate in the life of the city and in the decisions that affect them.”
- Sadiq Khan, A City for All Londoners
Digital inclusion is more than just getting people online, it is about transforming lives, particularly for those groups most excluded.
In 2016, 6% of London households did not have access to the internet, 7.2% of Londoners had ‘never used the internet’ and 16% did not have basic digital skills which include:
Managing information: Use a search engine to look for information online; find a website previously visited and download / save a photo found online
Communicating: Send a personal message via email or online messaging service; make comments and share information online
Transacting: Buy items or services from a website; buy and install apps on a device
Creating: Complete online applications forms which include personal details; create something new from existing online images, music or video
Problem Solving: Verify sources of information found online; Solve a problem with a device/ digital service using online help
The Office of National Statistics suggests that there is no single reason for people being digitally excluded but the main reasons tend to include:
- a lack of interest in the internet & digital (59%),
- a belief they lack the skills to go online (21%) and
- the cost of equipment (9%).
But it is not just individuals who are offline and not benefiting from digital access; 23% of small businesses and 58% of charities/community groups lack basic digital skills which will help them thrive.
In recognition of this emerging digital divide the GLA’s Digital Inclusion Strategy was launched in January 2015. It outlines why digital exclusion is a growing concern for particular groups in London and how the GLA can work with partners to address the barriers Londoners face to getting online.
The Mayor confirmed his commitment to reducing digital exclusion in both manifesto commitments and by highlighting digital inclusion’s relevance in A City for All Londoners.
In February 2016, the GLA became a signatory to the governments Digital Inclusion Charter. The charter aims to reduce the number of people who are offline by 20% (nationally) every two years, so that by 2020 everyone who wants to be online is online. The GLA is committed to working towards this goal in London ensuring that all Londoners benefit from digital technology.
 managing information, communicating, transacting, creating and problem solving
Mobile Wifi is increasingly considered the best channel through which to reduce digital exclusion. A recent evaluation of a Vodafone Mobile Devices project by the Good Things Foundation found:
- 88% of the people who took part in the project improved their digital skills during the project through their use of mobile technology, and their motivations for and use of the internet also changed dramatically.
- 78% of people who were loaned a tablet or smartphone said they found the interface more intuitive and easier to remember than that of a laptop or desktop, leading to changes in online behaviour and more regular use.
- 55% of those who were loaned a tablet or smartphone said they learned independently, as well as using their devices out and about at a range of venues including community and day centres, social clubs, and friends’ and family members’ homes.
- 70% of people felt that mobile had cost advantages for them over fixed broadband.
- For people experiencing severe social exclusion and disadvantage mobile internet was shown to enable people to better self-manage their health, leading to greater independence and wellbeing.
Mi Wifi Pilot (April 2017 – March 2018)
In March the Mayor launched the Mi Wifi project. Mi Wifi is a pilot project that will test how effective lending wifi-enabled devices (tablets) through libraries or community centres is at reducing digital exclusion among specific groups of Londoners (older Londoners, disadvantaged Londoners, Londoners with a disability and community groups).
It will also see if the provision of basic digital skills training and knowledge of local support, alongside internet access, encourages sustainable and beneficial online activity. The pilot will run in one or more London borough with high digital exclusion rates.
It is aimed at those who have no access to the internet and are lacking basic digital skills which can often compound economic disadvantage and social isolation in these groups.
The Call for Submissions for this project closes March 15th2017.
For more information email: [email protected]