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More Action Needed on Digital Inclusion

Media Release from Innovation Partnership

Dated, 21 April 2017

Embargoed until 9am, 24 April 2017

More Action Needed on Digital Inclusion

New Zealand has made good progress toward making Broadband accessible, but due to other factors some people are still not able to take advantage of the opportunities created by the Internet. Fellowship research released today by the Innovation Partnership calls on Government to give greater focus to digital inclusion policy and to collaborate with others to deliver initiatives.

Through targeted policy and initiatives Government, Industry, NGO’s and Educators can help lift New Zealanders’ digital skills. This is needed if New Zealand is to remain competitive in an increasingly global economy. Research cited in the study reports that if all businesses and households had the skills and confidence to make better use of online services, it could potentially lift GDP by $34 billion and save the average Kiwi household $1,000 a year.

The study; Digital Inclusion in New Zealand: Assessing Government policy approaches and initiatives , reveals that despite a number of strategies and reports since 2001, and progress being made, some people are still excluded. For example, research shows that young, well-educated people in urban areas tend to use the Internet more, and that people in low socio-economic and rural areas are more likely to be digitally excluded.

While access is still being enabled by, for example, the Rural Broadband Initiative, the report contains a number of recommendations for action. Crucially, New Zealand needs better and more accessible data on who is excluded, and an improved understanding of what digital skills are needed to improve digital fluency. New Zealanders also need better access to digital skills development throughout their lives .

The study found that Governments in other comparable nations have given broader policy focus to improving digital skills and inclusion, and New Zealand risks being left behind. The report’s author, Policy Fellow, Catherine Soper says: “Much of New Zealand’s focus until now has been on improving access. Now it’s time to step up and ensure all citizens have the skills, motivation, confidence and trust to live and work in a digital world.” New Zealand can learn by the examples of others.

According to Ms Soper: “Those who are unable to utilise technology are at risk of becoming increasingly disadvantaged - they are less employable, have fewer opportunities to access online government, education, health or business services and miss chances to communicate with friends and family.”

Digital inclusion is about using technology to create social and economic involvement, overcoming challenges such as access, skills, motivation, confidence and trust. Ms Soper says that “as more and more services go online there’s an assumption that we can all get onto our devices and complete these activities.”

“The reality is it might be easy for me, harder for my Mum and almost impossible for my Great Aunt. It’s vital for all Kiwis to have basic digital capabilities to operate in a digital world. Increasingly, digital is the way you communicate with family and friends, how you manage your health records , learn new things, do your banking and apply for jobs.”

Ms Soper says it is easy to regard digital inclusion as a soft issue, but there is plenty at stake.

“If we don’t address it as a country we won’t be able to compete with other countries in the global digital economy.”

The report reviews a range of digital inclusion strategies in the United Kingdom, Finland, Singapore and Australia, and identifies lessons for New Zealand. The study was co-funded by Google under their Fellowship scheme, alongside the Innovation Partnership of New Zealand.

Ends

To review the Summary Report (also attached) visit: www.innovationpartnership.co.nz

Soper_2017_Digital_Inclusion_Summary_Report.pdf

Key facts

Who’s Missing Out?

According to the 2013 census:

23% of NZ households, almost a quarter, did not have access to the Internet. 76.8% of Kiwi households had access to the Internet (up from 60.5 percent tin 2006).

Households that did not own their own home were less likely to have access to the Internet, at 66.1%.

There is an urban/rural digital divide - (81.6%) of Auckland households have access to the Internet, followed by Wellington (80.8%) and Canterbury (78.3%). Gisborne has the lowest percentage (63.3%) followed by Northland (68.0%).

Regarding income, 95.5% of Kiwi households on incomes over $100k have access to the internet. Only 45.7% of households on incomes $20,000 or less have access to the Internet.

Groups least likely to be connected in New Zealand

Comprehensive, longitudinal data is needed to establish who is being excluded, to support the development of targeted initiatives, and to establish efficacy of initiatives.

2001: groups least likely to be connected

(source: Department of Labour)

• Māori and Pacific peoples

• those on low incomes

• sole parents

• older people

• people with low or no qualifications or poor literacy

• the unemployed and underemployed

• rural-dwellers

• women and girls

• people with disabilities


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