Two of this month’s reports seem to have diverse opinions, and one in particular, to much that has been reported recently!
The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) when starting its Reboot Britian campaign, reported the results of a survey of a nationally-representative 1092 adults in the UK. The survey report concluded that 95 percent of people questioned are regularly using the web for everyday activities. if this were to be true we only have a digitally excluded minority of 5%, I presume? Their press release was entitled “Post Office queues to become a thing of the past.” The Public Service web site picked up a different focus from the results, the fact that when asked the question “Do you think switching as many public services and facilities as possible online is a good thing?”, 57% replied maybe, 22% said yes and 21% said no – an interesting contrast to the spin from NESTA.
In marked contrast to NESTA wanting to shorten Post Office queues, Computing published a piece about a report from the UK Parliamentary all-party Commons Business and Enterprise Committee which questioned the drive for e-government and accused Whitehall departments of undermining local Post Offices! The MP’s opinion was that the public should be encouraged online but not driven there, again rather in contrast to the government’s own Digital Britain report.
The NESTA report by picking up the public’s own restraint on government services cannot expect government to swallow the massively inflated figure of Internet usage it purports. Citizens have their own elderly or disabled friends and relatives for whom electronic services won’t work currently and so know its too early. Time for mediated services maybe, but purely online – not yet!