The FINANCIAL — A new online mapping tool which shows, for the first time, a single nationwide measure of the likelihood of digital exclusion across the UK was launched on October 19 with the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
The Heatmap of Digital Exclusion, produced by the digital skills charity Go ON UK and developed with LSE, the BBC and Local Government Association, will display a measure of digital exclusion in each local authority and link it to the area’s level of social exclusion.
This breakthrough tool has been designed to provide policy-makers and those working in the digital skills and inclusion sector with the insight to drive engagement, action and funding where it is most needed, according to LSE.
The map uses known indicators of exclusion such as age, gender, broadband coverage and an estimated level of Basic Digital Skills. Go ON UK estimate 23 per cent across the UK do not have the five Basic Digital Skills needed to succeed in the digital age. These skills include managing information online, communicating, mastering online transactions, problem solving and creating content.
Part of the motivation behind creating this map is to understand which areas are falling behind and help ensure everyone in the UK has these basic skills.
The Heatmap of Digital Exclusion uses data from Go ON UK’s new Basic Digital Skills report in association with Lloyds Banking Group. Key findings include:
Highest levels of Basic Digital Skills are found in Greater London (84%), Scotland and East Anglia (both 81%)
Wales, where internet access is at its lowest, shows the lowest levels with only 62% of adults having the five Basic Digital Skills they need
In addition, the report finds men (80%) are more likely than women (74%) to be competent across each of the five Basic Digital Skills
Dr Ellen Helsper, Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, who developed the methodology behind the map, said:
“The heat map is a wake-up call. It shows clearly how social and digital exclusion are closely related. The lack of basic digital skills and access in already disadvantaged areas is likely to lead to an increase in inequality of opportunity around the UK.”
As part of her ongoing research and engagement, Dr Helsper continues to develop tools to help organisations and governments around the world evaluate and improve programmes designed to tackle digital inequalities in order to reduce social exclusion.