ONS begins work to help ‘can’t do digital’ group get online for 2021 census
Statistics agency appeals from charity and private sector in promoting digital inclusion
Ahead of the “online-first” 2021 census, the Office for National Statistics has begun work to build a network of people and organisations that can offer support to those who have difficulty using the internet.
For the first time, the research for the next decennial census will be primarily conducted digitally.
“For the majority of people, this won't be a problem,” the ONS said. “It will be just another of many online transactions they do as part of everyday life. Others, though, won't find it so simple. These are the people who, for various reasons, are being left behind by the digital revolution. They're not opposed to being online; they just don't have the skills, confidence, technology, or opportunity to do so.”
The ONS has kicked off an initiative to help as many of these “digitally disconnected” people as possible get online in time for the 2021 census. The statistics body has launched an early-engagement exercise and wants to hear from charities and businesses that might be able to help provide in-person support to the “can’t do digital group”.
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“Whether you're a company or a charity, a nationwide operation with thousands of branches, or a local specialist with a handful of outlets, we want to meet you,” the ONS said. “Our task is to provide a network of face-to-face online support for the census across England and Wales. We recognise that to do this we may need to consider working with a wide variety of organisations committed to helping those struggling to go digital.”
Potential suppliers are invited to intend an event on 25 April at the St. James’ Court hotel in central London, where the ONS will discuss in more detail its needs. A second event on 16 May will bring together ONS project leaders and representatives of partner “digital-inclusion organisations”, and will offer attendees a much more “interactive” experience.
“[There will be] lots of opportunity for discussion and the potential to develop partnerships, to ensure we can offer online support wherever we need to,” the ONS said.
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