by Divina Paredes

NZ Government outlines plan to tackle digital exclusion

May 03, 2019

More Kiwis than ever will be able to access online services safely and securely, with the launch of a new Digital Inclusion Blueprint, says Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods.

The Blueprint lays out how people can take full advantage of the internet.

“This will help us identify groups of New Zealanders who may struggle to access online services,” says Woods.

“This Blueprint will be used to coordinate the planning of different Government and community initiatives, and identify where future investment and action is needed.

“In a world where the internet impacts more and more of our lives, it’s important that all New Zealanders have the tools and skills they need to access online services and use the internet safely and securely,” she says.

“That’s what we mean when we talk about digital inclusion. As more vital services move online, those who don’t have the skills or access will find it more difficult to go about their daily lives.

She says some people can’t easily apply for jobs as many recruitment processes start online, children may be prevented from doing their homework, and others could feel isolated from more digitally savvy friends and family who communicate using social media.

“We want to ensure no one is left out or left behind as more and more of our lives move online.”

Woods stresses access to online service is a key priority and an area the government has already invested in.

She says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has recently announced $21 million funding for Regional Digital Hubs (RDHs) in towns to connect local people and businesses to digital services.

“Additionally, this Government’s ultra-fast broadband programme connecting homes and businesses is about 77 per cent complete, with 1,432,554 users able to connect to the network. When the UFB infrastructure is fully deployed by the end of 2022, people in more than 390 towns and cities will be able to connect to the country’s fibre network.

Woods thanks the Digital Economy and Digital Inclusion Advisory Group for providing valuable advice during the development of the Blueprint.

Jordan Carter, chief executive of InternetNZ, welcomes the plan, noting that there are many people in New Zealand that do not use the internet.

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We want to ensure no one is left out or left behind as more and more of our lives move onlineMinister Megan Woods

He says these are mainly for one of four reasons: they can’t access it or afford it; they don’t trust it; they don’t have the skills to use it; or they simply don’t have the motivation.

“Barriers to digital inclusion are multi-faceted and are felt unevenly across New Zealand,” he adds.

He says Internet NZ particularly welcomes the development of Te Whata K?rero. The latter is a call to action for t?ngata whenua to work alongside the Government to provide leadership on digital inclusion-related issues.

He says to get real results, the plan needs to be backed with the right level of investment and measures.

“The Government has to put money on the table,” says Carter.

“As a country, we need to fund and prioritise research and monitoring to understand what’s working and track outcomes. Budget 2019 is a chance for the Government to show its commitment.”

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