5.2 How can we promote digital inclusion?

COVID 19 has made it abundantly clear- access to the internet is so important now more than ever to take advantage of and participate in today’s digital economy. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing trend towards digital technology was already changing the way we do things as a society – with access to services, information, and support increasingly going ‘digital by default. The outbreak of coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown has accelerated this shift to digital technology. Our ability to work from home, search for a job, stay connected with family or friends, take part in volunteering, shop for groceries and other essential items, attend healthcare appointments, access financial support, and banking services, and keep physically active have all – to varying degrees – been dependent on our ability to get online.

But the challenge of data poverty is prominent, to tackle it, connectivity must be made affordable and accessible to vulnerable populations.


So how is data poverty being addressed now?

Data Gifting- is the practice of pooling any unused bandwidth to provide connectivity options to those who do not afford it

Zero rating sites- means removing data usage fees so they do not count towards any data cap in place on the internet access service

Opening local Wi-Fi networks- by working together with local authorities / communities to enable access to free local connectivity

Public libraries- a path to digital inclusive communities

Public libraries lead the way in providing a wide range of technologies and digital content. Millions of people across Europe use the resources available in libraries to enhance their digital literacy skills, and support education, employment, civic engagement, and health purposes. In doing so, public libraries are essential to building digitally inclusive communities. Educators are becoming increasingly aware of the role of libraries in improving digital inclusion, as they can be an essential provider of digital access, training, and support for local communities. Libraries are increasingly helping people develop higher levels of digital skills, by offering free wi-fi and other learning initiatives. Libraries in the UK work in partnership with charities and private partners such as BT, to improve the lives of some of the most socially and digitally excluded people. With thousands of E-books and Audiobooks available to download for free to members, public libraries should therefore not be overlooked as a pathway to digital inclusion!

Watch the YouTube video on Northern Ireland’s Libraries offering digital services to their members, highlighting clearly the fantastic resources provided by these public services!

Click here to browse more of the useful services provided by libraries across the UK:


Conversations with key influencers in the UK’s digital transformation community. On season three of the Digital Leaders podcast, they sit down with some of the UK’s most proactive Digital Leaders as they share their views on the importance of digital leadership in an evolving digital workforce and economy. The time is now. The place is the Digital Leaders Podcast, and the future is digital!

Each episode features an in-depth conversation with a Digital Leader, highlighting how they got into the digital space, their passion for why they do what they do, the impact digital has had on their sector and their thoughts on what the digital future will look like in the next 5 – 10 years.