Promoting Digital Inclusion is Everybody’s Business

Digital inclusion is a big issue. We’re supporting Get Online Week! Are you?

Figures from The Good Things Foundation , a social change charity helping people improve their lives through digital, estimate there are 11.3 million people in the UK who lack the basic digital skills needed to access the online services available to them and necessary in life and work. 

Often those without digital skills are likely to be the most vulnerable and excluded in our society. Those lacking essential digital skills can have less access to jobs and education and find it more difficult as government moves more public services, such as Universal Credit, online.

(LearnMyWay, which is owned by Good Things Foundation, have an excellent how to guide and range of tools to equip people with the skills to access online public services)

Conversely promoting digital inclusion can help bring positive outcomes by enabling more people to get online and gain new digital skills. This in turn can lead to reduced isolation, money saved on buying essential services and improved health and wellbeing including access to online self-help apps.

Helping promote digital inclusion in Watford

As part of a wider project of delivering a free public WiFi service across the entire town centre of Watford, IntechnologyWiFi also installed free WiFi across more than 20 community centres and sheltered housing schemes. The free WiFi network provides seamless, ‘always on’ connectivity for users out and about in the town, at no cost and without time or bandwidth limitations and at no cost to taxpayers.

This first phase of the project within the community hubs and sheltered housing schemes formed a key part of Watford Community Housing Trust’s (WCHT’s) social inclusion mission, helping meet the demands of its residents 80 per cent of whom had been calling for more services online.

Tina Barnard, Chief Executive of WCHT, said at the time: ‘Helping local residents to get online is important to us. As well as making it quicker and easier to access services, it can also help people to get more involved with what is going on in their local area. We are very proud to be part of this project.’

Baroness Dorothy Thornhill, Watford’s mayor at the time and now LGA Vice-President, said: ‘Nearly all of us use the internet nowadays, so it’s wonderful to be extending WiFi to new places in Watford. I’m pleased that residents in sheltered housing are some of the first to benefit – the internet is a great way of accessing public services and keeping in touch with friends and family.’

The deployment of free public WiFi by IntechnologyWiFi also forms part of supporting Watford’s transition to becoming a smart town. Utilising this foundation of digital connectivity, the council can harness new technologies, including IoT (Internet of Things) solutions, to better manage its urban ecosystem in future – including improved local traffic, public transport, utilities and education services.

There are many highly visible initiatives running across the UK which are helping more people get online including those from leading financial services organisations such as Barclays Digital Eagles and Lloyds Banking Group, to name but a few.

And this help is not just focussed on big cities; it is reaching to the furthest corners of the UK with get online initiatives set up in remote locations such as Lerwick in the Shetland Islands for example.

Try 1 Thing

Get Online Week, which runs from 15th – 21st October 2018, is the UK’s biggest digital skills campaign and has helped more than 500,000 people take their first steps online since 2007. The Get Online Week campaign sees thousands of events around the UK encouraging people to just “Try 1 Thing”, to use the internet to do just one thing they would normally do offline or over the phone for example banking or booking a doctor’s appointment.

Closer to IntechnologyWiFi’s home, the 100% Digital Leeds programme run by Leeds City Council aims to help the estimated 90,000 adults in Leeds who are not online or who lack basic digital skills. The programme has already rolled out the UK’s largest tablet lending scheme and promotes the Online Centres Network and Digital Champions.

100% Digital Leeds programme aims to breaking down the barriers to digital inclusion which can often include lack of online skills and confidence, access to and cost of connectivity, broadband and equipment.

The programme runs in tandem with Smart Leeds which aims to identify and deliver new technologies and innovative solutions to help make Leeds the best place to live, work and visit. This includes areas such open data, digital connectivity and development in health technology such as remote patient monitoring solutions.

There are Get Online Week events happening all over in venues like libraries, community centres and job centres near you.

If you know someone you’d like to help Try1Thing online then you can search for events nearby on the interactive map.  Find out more and take part in an event visit Get Online Week  or call the National Careers Service on 0800 77 1234.

IntechnologyWiFi work with a growing number of councils and local authorities across the UK to promote digital inclusion by deploying “blanket” public WiFi covering entire towns or city centres. Key locations such as The City of Edinburgh, Coventry, Watford, Southend, Windsor and Maidenhead are already unlocking the social and economic benefits of providing public WiFi to residents, businesses and visitors. This layer of digital connectivity combined with our Connected City Platform and IoT Solutions enables the development of smart city services to help people live more connected lives.

Get In Touch

Whether you’re a local authority looking to provide public WiFi or seeking a connectivity solution for Smart Cities, the IoT or 5G / Small Cells in your town or city, or if you are interested in partnering with us around the Connected City Platform in any of our forthcoming town and city roll-outs, we’d love to explain more about who we are and what we do.

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