Government details action on digital divide

The Digital Inclusion Action Plan is the first stage in the high-level timeline outlined in the Digital Inclusion Blueprint released last week

The Government has released an action plan detailing how it will work to overcome the digital divide in New Zealand.

The Digital Inclusion Action Plan is the first stage in the high-level timeline outlined in the Digital Inclusion Blueprint released by the minister for government digital services Megan Woods last week.

Work planned for 2019 is to agree on outcomes and measures, identify priority areas to focus on, and identify gaps and test small-scale initiatives.

In 2020 and 2021 the action plan calls for scaling of successes, development new approaches and measurement progress.

In the following two years it expects to review digital inclusion goals and priorities, check these are still relevant, and continue to work towards digital inclusion.

Woods said the blueprint would be used to coordinate the planning of different Government and community initiatives, and identify where future investment and action are needed.

The blueprint says that, as a first step The Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua will work on an outcomes and measurement framework for digital inclusion, with a draft “due to be released in early 2019”.

It says the framework will be based around the four elements of digital inclusion and line up with Treasury's Living Standards Framework.

According to Treasury, the LSF “looks across the human, social, natural and financial/physical aspects of those things that affect our wellbeing – the ‘four capitals’  [and] is a tool that emphasises the diversity of outcomes meaningful for New Zealanders, and helps the Treasury to analyse, measure and compare those outcomes through a wide and evolving set of indicators.”

The Blueprint says there are no agreed measures for digital inclusion in New Zealand or reliable, comprehensive data to provide a full picture of who is not digitally included, and digital inclusion initiatives often operate separately to address specific needs in their communities.

And, without coordination and visibility of what is already happening, it is hard to identify gaps and see how the puzzle fits together.

It says the recently formed Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa (DIAA) holds promise to help increase visibility on the state of digital inclusion.

The alliance was established in July 2018 in collaboration with the 20/20 Trust to expand the reach of digital inclusion initiatives in New Zealand.

InternetNZ calls for funding

InternetNZ welcomed release of the blueprint and action plan but said that if these were to be taken seriously and get real results, the action plan should to be backed with the right level of investment and measures.

CEO Jordan Carter said this year’s budget provided the ideal opportunity. "The Government has to put money on the table. As a country, we need to fund and prioritise research and monitoring to understand what's working and track outcomes. Budget 2019 is a chance for the Government to show its commitment.

"We hope that the Government sets this as a key priority because every New Zealander deserves the opportunity to harness the power of the Internet.”

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