The new cross-government Digital Inclusion Team, based at the Government Digital Service (GDS) recently hosted the first meeting of the Digital Inclusion Stakeholder Advisory Group. This was an important event for the team so we thought it would be good to blog about how the event went.
What will the group do?
The group has been brought together to help represent the voices of the people we are trying to help go online. With 27 organisations from the voluntary, private, public and local government sectors; retail to banking, housing associations to charities and digital skills providers there was a fantastic array of knowledge and experience in the room.
The Stakeholder Advisory Group will help the Digital Inclusion team with the development of a Digital Inclusion Strategy, sharing their vast experience and insight and collaborating with the team to define our priorities and the programme of activities that will come from the strategy.
As this was the first meeting of the group, it was important that everyone who was in attendance knew why we were there and to set our expectations of what we wanted to achieve.
Kathy Settle and Maren Ashford welcomed the group and outlined the challenge that we are facing; 18% of the UK population not online and two-thirds of Small and Medium size Enterprises (SMEs) and charities not using the internet. Not only does this present a huge challenge for delivering the government’s Digital by Default standard , but those not online are missing the social, economic and financial benefits that being online can offer.
What are the challenges?
With such a broad spectrum of attendees, it was important that the advisory group was able to tell their stories of the challenge that digital inclusion presents, share examples of what works (and of course what hasn’t worked!) and perhaps most importantly how we will know that we are successful and monitor our collective performance.
Michael Windmill hosted a workshop to explore these topics in more detail and got all members talking and sharing ideas on how we can help people go online.
The session highlighted the main challenges to getting online. Some of the key insights included awareness, usability, access, skills, motivation and trust.
Other challenges include:
Perception of what it means to be ‘online’
For organisations (SMEs, voluntary, charity and social enterprise’s):
time and perceived value
making society realise digital exclusion is a genuine social issue
reaching the hard to reach (not online and not interested)
legislation - accessibility, data handling, secure payment portals etc.
lack of support or perceived support
This is just the first step towards understanding and tackling the challenge of digital exclusion. Making sure we all know the human impact and the challenges that people face in going online is and will continue to be vitally important.
Over the coming weeks, the Stakeholder Advisory group will be working with the Digital Inclusion team to agree how we will all work together, make sure our efforts add to more than the sum of their parts and that together we do the right things to get more people online.
Overall the session went really well. The feedback and comments we have received from the group were practical and really positive. We have now all had the chance to share our concerns and challenges, and now it is about how we work together to resolve them.
The enthusiasm from the group members was great and and we are really looking forward to working together in the future.