Digital Exclusion

The Covid-19 crisis has pushed many people and organisations to make much greater use of digital systems and this is likely to continue into the post Covid world as organisations exploit their newly developed capability to deliver service via IT at a greatly reduced cost and newly skilled consumers become more and more comfortable with services delivered in this way.

More and more public bodies including BANES and the NHS are now planning to build on the on-line systems and processes they developed during the crisis. Residents have become much more comfortable with online service delivery which will, in turn, reduce the demand for traditional face-to-face services and make them less economically viable.

This will or should put the issue of digital exclusion front and centre for policymakers. Many of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our community cannot afford to access IT and/or lack the ability to use it. This effect has been exacerbated by the closure of libraries and the underfunding of libraries. These have traditionally been where people in this position could be able to access both computers and help and training in using them.

The underfunding of libraries has been further impacted by vocal campaigns, usually led by the digitally included, to privilege book-based library services in the allocation of what limited funding does become available.

TARA is aking BANES what their plans are to address these issue as we enter the post-Covid world.