Europe narrows the ‘digital divide’

The European Commission has some ambitious plans for improving the digital landscape with its Digital Agenda taking aim at a wide-range of online areas, from faster broadband to narrowing the ‘digital divide’.

The divide, between those who can and can’t access the internet, was featured in the Digital Scoreboard the Commission unveiled late last month.

Among its data on digital in Europe on how the EU is progressing with its digital plans were the following statistics:

• 65% of citizens across the EU’s 27 member states used the internet at least weekly in 2010, up from 60.5% the year before (the Commission’s target is 75% by 2015)

• For highly-educated young adults, use ranged from 88% to 100%, while for medium-educated elderly citizens the range varies wildly, running from 10% to 80%.

• Disadvantaged groups like the less well-educated and the elderly are using the internet more, up from 42% in 2009 to 48% 2010 (target: 60%)

• Non-users fell from 30% of the population in 2009 to 26% last year

According to the Commission, non-users largely comprise the old and the less well-educated in all Member States, as well as large proportions of the general population in less connected countries (such as Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Romania).

It said the main barriers to going online are “lack of interest, cost and lack of skills”. Women generally have lower operational ICT skills levels than men, while young people under 24 – so-called digital natives – are generally very digitally competent.

“As more daily tasks are carried out online, people will require enhanced digital skills to fully participate in society,” the Commission noted.

My more considered blog post on the healthcare side of the latest Digital Scoreboard, Digital Pharma: The rise of the European e-patient, is online at InPharm


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