Council Moves Closer To Becoming “Digital By Default”
Alyn and Deeside AM Carl Sargeant has backed the “Keep me Posted” campaign, which aims to raise awareness about businesses and organisations race to go fully “digital by default”, meanwhile Flintshire County Council (FCC) edge closer to being a “digital by default” organisation.
The Keep Me Posted campaign, organised by a partnership of national charities and businesses, is aimed at tackling the problems caused by ‘digital by default’ the rapidly growing approach used by many companies and organisations to send out their information.
Its estimated over 28% of Flintshire`s population cannot access digital services through a lack of resources, age or disability relates issues, money, training, and fear of the internet.
FCC has recently launched an consultation process asking the community to take part in an online survey regarding the future of subsidised buses in the county.
The FCC website states “The consultation will take place between 12th August and 11th October 2013. During this time we would like to hear your views, our preferred method of seeking your views is to use an electronic questionnaire:” (survey monkey)
FCC have made provisions for those people who cant access the survey, the website states “if you wish to request a printed version of the questionnaire please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
There is no other provision outlined on the website for non digital users to complete the survey, then why would there be, as its only advertised in a digital format.
Many of these digitally excluded members of our community will be public transport users, yet they will find great difficulty in taking part in the consultation process, one that with will affect there ability to travel and use vital services within the county.
Meanwhile Carl Sargeant AM said,
“I understand many businesses are working to keep costs down, but the needs of their customers, particularly those who are elderly or have health problems, need to be taken into account
“More and more people are becoming IT-savvy and feeling more confident using computers and the internet, which is great, but there are still many who are unable or do not feel comfortable conducting their business and accessing information online.
“They should not have to lose out because online communication is not appropriate for them and should continue to be able to choose to continue receiving their information through the post.”
Clearly the message has not got through to Flintshire County Councils communications people.
The impact on digital exclusion results in citizens being “information poor” and as Shotton is next on the list of one of areas to go live with universal credit, a joined up approach from local government to get everybody online, and importantly understanding the issues faced is vital.
Statistics from the ONS show that those deemed ‘information rich’ vs those who are ‘information poor’ are likely have a much lower household income.
We have sent an email to FCC and are awaiting a response.