GDS trials digital inclusion framework

Local authorities are being encouraged to help test a new framework aimed at providing a consistent measurement of digital inclusion.

The Government Digital Service this week launched a prototype of the tool, aimed at providing a single, template for tracking digital inclusion in the UK, and evaluating activities locally.

GDS hopes the tool will help government bodies to reach the last 20% of the population which remains offline or lacks digital skills.

In a blog post, Lauren Khan, head of strategy in the Digital Inclusion team at GDS, said: “We know that engaging this ‘hard to reach’ final fifth of the population will require significant investment.

“In order to justify investment at a time when resources are scarce, and ensure it’s optimised, we need to know what works in delivering outcomes, and to track progress towards them.”

She said that currently, the diversity of digital inclusion activities among public bodies has led to inconsistency in how progress is evaluated “making it hard to compare and share learning meaningfully”.

“Moreover, activities are often measured by volume, rather than value, so it’s difficult to tell what is working and measure the impact of these activities on people’s lives,” Khan added.
GDS is now seeking support from partners to help develop, test refine, spread and embed the digital inclusions outcomes framework in local evaluations, research contracts and funding and procurement processes.

A standardised set of digital inclusion measures are under development, corresponding with outcomes and indicators on the framework.

This will include  a minimum set of core metrics, recommended for use in all digital inclusion studies, and a broader menu of optional items, which could be used selectively.

GDS is also developing an online digital inclusion dashboard to visualise and report on UK-wide progress on the issue.

The framework has been developed by the GDS Digital Inclusion Research Working Group, which brings together representatives from academia, government, private sector organisations and charities.

Colin Marrs

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