Straddling the divide: Digital exclusion during COVID-19 and beyond

Straddling the divide: Digital exclusion during COVID-19 and beyond

Coronavirus risks widening the inequalities that are already caused by digital exclusion, but it can also act as a catalyst to accelerate digital inclusion efforts. That’s according to a new report published by the International Longevity Centre.

The report says that people who are digitally excluded may struggle to purchase often vital goods and services, look after their health and socially interact with others within the safety of their homes.

It goes onto say that if digital exclusion, which is often also associated with social exclusion and poor health, is not tackled, then there is a risk that existing health inequalities could increase.

However, coronavirus has also created a chance to address digital exclusion. Innovators in business and local government have adapted fast to support those digitally excluded by:
• Making their products and services more inclusive and actively considering the needs of their most vulnerable users;
• Adapting products to make them safely useable during COVID-19;
• Directly addressing barriers to digital inclusion in the community.

The crisis is also challenging a common belief and a key barrier to digital inclusion – that digital tech is not useful. But the lack of coordination behind efforts to tackle digital exclusion risks leaving many behind. To prevent this, then report says that national and local government could work together to:
• Actively encourage the adoption of the most useful tech;
• Help disadvantaged groups to master digital skills;
• Create a nationally co-ordinated volunteer service to achieve this – making use of the numerous NHS volunteers who have yet to be called into action.

You can find out more and read a copy of the report by clicking here.