Digital for Good – A Round Table Discussion at Policy Exchange
Guest blog written by Sarah Fink, Research Fellow, Digital Government Unit, Policy Exchange
We recently hosted a round table discussion at Policy Exchange with the support of Nominet Trust to talk about our current research. Entitled “Digital for Good” we explored ways technology can be used to improve the delivery of public services to some of society’s most vulnerable and excluded groups – specifically those who are aged 16 – 24 and not in education, employment or training (NEETs) and those aged 65 and over who are offline. The round table brought together a group of people interested in the research, with representatives from government, charities and the private sector.
Before starting the round table discussion we presented our research thus far, including a sneak peak at our polling results of 400 NEETs across the UK. We asked NEETs about their experience looking for work and education opportunities and their use of technology. We found some really interesting results regarding who they trust for advice about their future and what they would find helpful in their search. We also looked at the latest statistics on internet take-up and device ownership, plus the attitudes of the offline towards technology across older age groups.
We looked at ways those who help NEETs – family, mentors, teachers and advisers – can use technology to improve their efforts – including the kinds of resources that exist already and ideas to develop.
We discussed what to do about people, who despite all of the benefits of the internet, say they aren’t interested or don’t want to get online. Do we push them, or present new benefits, and can we take uninterested as an excuse at face value? In a world of limited resources, how do prioritise our internet training efforts?
In addition, we discussed potential strategies to reach the offline with a digital-by-default government, ensuring no one gets left behind.
As part of our report we are making a list of recommendations that would help improve digital interactions between citizen and government, especially for youth unemployed and the aging. We pitched three of our recommendation ideas at the round table, in hopes of stirring debate and facilitating a frank discussion. We wanted to know what we have correct so far, and what ideas might not be quite right. We knew we could take an easier, lighter approach and throw out ideas we could likely all agree on, but wanted to make sure we discussed the tougher issues with digital inclusion and digital engagement.
The round table didn’t just lead us toward these answers, but raised more questions. There is much to tackle in the areas of digital engagement and digital inclusion, and each party came to the round table with wide ranging interests. We could have spent a lot more time asking questions and testing ideas. As we finish up our research, we return to many of the great points raised at the event, and value the insight of our guests.
Follow the progress of this work with #Digital4Good