What about people who aren’t online?

My super clever colleague Reema Mehta wrote a nice summary of how digital by default Government will meet the needs of users who aren’t online.

It’s one of the questions we get asked most often at GDS. I’m glad we get asked it often because it’s important and for me personally it’s something that makes working in government interesting. We don’t get to choose to only provide services to people who are able to interact with us digitally, we have to provide services to everyone.

An even shorter summary is

  • assisted digital – getting digital services to people who are offline
  • digital inclusion – getting people online so they can do loads of digital stuff

Though I’m glad we get asked this question, I’m not at all glad when I hear people say that government can’t go digital by default without 100% of the population being online. In fact it makes me cross because it is not true.

Digital by default means ‘digital services that are so straightforward and convenient that all those who can use them will choose to do so, whilst those who can’t are not excluded’. It does not mean ‘everyone has to use digital services independently so they have to all get online, else they won’t be able to access services anymore’.

There is a role government can and will play – along with citizens, the voluntary and community sector, and the private sector – to support and encourage people and organisations to develop digital skills. But going digital by default is not contingent on this.

The moral of this story is… you could have either one of assisted digital and digital inclusion without the other, but I’m glad we have both.

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