My thanks go to James Gilmour for informing the various e-democracy groups of the release of two reports recording “Digital Participation in Scotland”. There is the “A Review of the Evidence” (39 pages) and the lesser read of “A Review of the Evidence – Research Findings” (4 pages).
A key conclusion of the report is that “internet non-use is not related to infrastructure or to having the right “materials” as the majority of non-users are yet to pass the first barrier of recognising the benefits and need for the internet. The review concludes that actions should be focusing attention on “older people, those of low incomes, those who are not working and those with low levels of educational qualification”. This may provide some further guidance to those working with Race Online 2012 to increase the education around the benefits of being online. It also states that “The Carnegie UK Trust is proposing to carry out research in 2012 to explore in greater depth the reasons why some people may not take up digital technology; and highlight effective interventions which have been successful in encouraging and supporting more people to get online”, which may further assist the educational work.
Whilst this is not a reason to stop developing online government services, it does mean that multiple channels will have to continue until mediated provision (which has its own cost) or 100% shift is enabled by increased participation.
The reports produced a very healthy debate on UKIE-EDem and DW-X,not just in the UK and Scotland but across the world, which I hope to summarise in due course since there were some very interesting points made by the people who know!