Feeds

eGovernment 'ignoring' poor, unemployed, homeless

Don't give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses

Application security programs and practises

Socially excluded groups are currently "very poorly served" by the UK eGovernment agenda, says new government research.

A report out today warns that eGovernment, at both national and local level, largely ignores the needs of 'hard to reach' individuals and is failing to adequately promote social inclusion.

Similarly, social inclusion strategies rarely consider the important role that ICT could play, leaving government stuck in a "strategic impasse" which has resulted in missed opportunities, it adds.

The study for the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) claims that targeting eGovernment activity to social excluded groups – who are among the largest users of public services – would reap considerable efficiency gains.

Social and digital inclusion must be made a key priority in the future development of eGovernment and service delivery plans, it urges.

"It is time to focus eGovernment implementation on providing services and appropriate ways to those that need them most – individuals experiencing social exclusion", says the report.

Current problems also stem from a lack of understanding about how ICT can enhance social inclusion, it observes.

While examples of successful initiatives exist, generally projects instigated by councils tend to be short-term and one-off investments, with little regard to sustainability or how they can be absorbed into mainstream activities.

As an example, the study cites a portal project targeting socially excluded groups, which received more than half a million pounds in development funding, but now has minimal input to keep it updated and is slowly becoming outdated and obsolete.

According to the report's authors: "The absence of clear priorities from central government means that eGovernment services and initiatives using technology to enhance inclusion are usually developed and delivered in isolation".

They add: "Unless the implementation of eGovernment activities is guided by better strategic thinking, it is unlikely that socially excluded groups will receive the full benefits of digital transformation."

The report puts forward 14 policy recommendations aimed at enhancing the role of eGovernment and digital technology in addressing social inclusion.

These include:

  • The need for central government to clarify the legal basis for sharing personal information about individuals, potentially placing a duty on organisations to share information through public service agreements
  • Setting clear evaluation and performance criteria for projects to make it easier to judge their success when pilot funding ends
  • Better targeting public internet access points, kiosks and digital television initiatives at socially excluded households or areas with poor internet adoption
  • Subsidising adaptive technology for disabled people
  • The creation of a single government accreditation body to monitor e-accessibility standards and the 'readability' of public sector websites.

The report is launched today at the IDeA local government e-champions conference.

Copyright © eGov monitor Weekly

eGov monitor Weekly is a free e-newsletter covering developments in UK eGovernment and public sector IT over the last seven days. To register go here.

Related link

Improvement and Development Agency website

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.