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WHAT IS DATA
POVERTY?
Patricia Lucas and Rosa Robinson
The digital
divide is
changing
Digital natives and digital migrants dominate
● Adult spend an average of 3+
hours online
● Internet use widespread across all
ages
● The divide is now about
affordability, usage is lowest in
low income groups
https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/internet-and-on-demand-research/online-
nation
What is data
poverty?
● Unaffordability of broadband connection:
➢ In Scotland, just 40% of those living on lowest income
have broadband
➢ In the USA, 48% of those without broadband at home
said this was because it was unaffordable
➢ In the UK, Lloyds found that no/low users said the of
broadband was a barrier
● Going online is more costly for those who lack digital
literacy or have poorer purchasing power
➢ Contracts can be difficult to understand, and difficult to
access for some
➢ Pay-as-you-go costs are higher than contract costs
➢ Those with low digital skills pay more for their access -
Lloyds estimated the lower income/lower engagement
groups spend £720 more per year going online than
those with similar income but high digital engagement
Drivers and dimensions of data poverty
1. Affordability
2. Choice
3. Infrastructure
4. Privacy and security
5. Quantity
6. Skills
7. Usability
Drivers Vulnerable groups Dimensions
Refugees
With Disabilities
Homeless
Those in
education
Insecure
employment
Unemployed
Multiple
occupancy
housing
Remote
locations
Domestic
Violence
Who experiences data poverty in Scotland and Wales?
“Data poverty is where
individuals or households
cannot afford sufficient,
private, and secure mobile or
broadband data to meet their
essential needs.”
1 in 7 adults in Scotland and Wales said they experienced data poverty
About 1 in 3 of these experienced most or all aspects of data poverty
• The greater the need for data, the bigger
the impact
• Data poverty widens existing inequalities
and perpetuate deprivation by limiting
access to opportunities.
• Experiencing data poverty means making
hard choices about which bills to prioritise
What are the
impacts of data
poverty?
Jenny’s story
I had broadband—it stopped in summer 2019. It was a
complete change in circumstances, a complete change in
finances.... broadband was something that could be
eliminated.”
Rhys’ story
I get about £340 a month in Universal Credit. I spend almost £100
on my phone and Wi-Fi, £37 on my water bill and around £27 for
my gas and electric. I’m left with about £43 a week for food and
everything else.”
“Arguably, electricity, water and food are more important than
Wi-Fi, but it comes down to priorities. If I didn't have enough
money one week, I would pick Wi-Fi over food. That's the sad
reality of it. I definitely would choose Wi-Fi because it means I'm
still in contact with the world and my mates.”
Cross-sector
solutions
Device donations and loans (with data)
SIM card and MiFi donations
Public WiFi hotspots
Social tariffs for broadband
Examples of
community
action on data
poverty
• Gaunless Gateway Big Local in Durham,
identified data poverty as being a big
problem for single men living in shared
accommodation with no broadband
connection and set up free WiFi hotspots
in the community.
• Get Connected is a community broadband
scheme, offering a WiFi solution for those
who cannot access broadband contracts.
Example of
industry action
on data poverty
• A pilot scheme developed by Good Things Foundation,
Nominet and Virgin Media O2 (UK roll-out from November)
• Provides free data (vouchers and SIMs) to people in need
• Aims to help over 200,000 people get connected by 2023
• Data currently only available on the Virgin Media O2
network
• It’s hoped that other UK’s mobile network will also join
the National Databank
National databank pilot
• Rapid growth in action on data poverty but most
programmes are not evaluated
• Many solutions assume the only barrier to data is
affordability but there are considerations
• There is a clear link between digital and financial literacy
and access to data
• We do not know yet what the right solutions are, but we
know the following elements are vital in shaping appropriate
solutions:
– Listening to the lived experiences of people experiencing data
poverty
– Understanding the different dimensions of data poverty
– Cross-sector collaboration
– Gathering evidence through evaluation
– Focusing on longer-term solutions that can be implemented in a
more planned and sustainable way.
– Gathering evidence of what works, for whom, and in which
circumstances
– Making pricing less confusing and more transparent
What have we
learnt from our
work so far?
Conclusions
It’s too early to know what works; there is little
evidence and an urgent need for more research
to understand nature and scale of the problem
There is no cure-all for data poverty. We need
multiple solutions addressing different
dimensions of data poverty
We need scalable solutions that do not widen
existing inequalities
Further reading
Any questions for us?
Contact
Email
Patricia@pjlucas.org
Rosa@framecollective.org.uk

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What is data poverty

  • 1. WHAT IS DATA POVERTY? Patricia Lucas and Rosa Robinson
  • 3. Digital natives and digital migrants dominate ● Adult spend an average of 3+ hours online ● Internet use widespread across all ages ● The divide is now about affordability, usage is lowest in low income groups https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/internet-and-on-demand-research/online- nation
  • 4. What is data poverty? ● Unaffordability of broadband connection: ➢ In Scotland, just 40% of those living on lowest income have broadband ➢ In the USA, 48% of those without broadband at home said this was because it was unaffordable ➢ In the UK, Lloyds found that no/low users said the of broadband was a barrier ● Going online is more costly for those who lack digital literacy or have poorer purchasing power ➢ Contracts can be difficult to understand, and difficult to access for some ➢ Pay-as-you-go costs are higher than contract costs ➢ Those with low digital skills pay more for their access - Lloyds estimated the lower income/lower engagement groups spend £720 more per year going online than those with similar income but high digital engagement
  • 5. Drivers and dimensions of data poverty 1. Affordability 2. Choice 3. Infrastructure 4. Privacy and security 5. Quantity 6. Skills 7. Usability Drivers Vulnerable groups Dimensions Refugees With Disabilities Homeless Those in education Insecure employment Unemployed Multiple occupancy housing Remote locations Domestic Violence
  • 6. Who experiences data poverty in Scotland and Wales? “Data poverty is where individuals or households cannot afford sufficient, private, and secure mobile or broadband data to meet their essential needs.” 1 in 7 adults in Scotland and Wales said they experienced data poverty About 1 in 3 of these experienced most or all aspects of data poverty
  • 7. • The greater the need for data, the bigger the impact • Data poverty widens existing inequalities and perpetuate deprivation by limiting access to opportunities. • Experiencing data poverty means making hard choices about which bills to prioritise What are the impacts of data poverty?
  • 8. Jenny’s story I had broadband—it stopped in summer 2019. It was a complete change in circumstances, a complete change in finances.... broadband was something that could be eliminated.”
  • 9. Rhys’ story I get about £340 a month in Universal Credit. I spend almost £100 on my phone and Wi-Fi, £37 on my water bill and around £27 for my gas and electric. I’m left with about £43 a week for food and everything else.” “Arguably, electricity, water and food are more important than Wi-Fi, but it comes down to priorities. If I didn't have enough money one week, I would pick Wi-Fi over food. That's the sad reality of it. I definitely would choose Wi-Fi because it means I'm still in contact with the world and my mates.”
  • 10. Cross-sector solutions Device donations and loans (with data) SIM card and MiFi donations Public WiFi hotspots Social tariffs for broadband
  • 11. Examples of community action on data poverty • Gaunless Gateway Big Local in Durham, identified data poverty as being a big problem for single men living in shared accommodation with no broadband connection and set up free WiFi hotspots in the community. • Get Connected is a community broadband scheme, offering a WiFi solution for those who cannot access broadband contracts.
  • 12. Example of industry action on data poverty • A pilot scheme developed by Good Things Foundation, Nominet and Virgin Media O2 (UK roll-out from November) • Provides free data (vouchers and SIMs) to people in need • Aims to help over 200,000 people get connected by 2023 • Data currently only available on the Virgin Media O2 network • It’s hoped that other UK’s mobile network will also join the National Databank National databank pilot
  • 13. • Rapid growth in action on data poverty but most programmes are not evaluated • Many solutions assume the only barrier to data is affordability but there are considerations • There is a clear link between digital and financial literacy and access to data • We do not know yet what the right solutions are, but we know the following elements are vital in shaping appropriate solutions: – Listening to the lived experiences of people experiencing data poverty – Understanding the different dimensions of data poverty – Cross-sector collaboration – Gathering evidence through evaluation – Focusing on longer-term solutions that can be implemented in a more planned and sustainable way. – Gathering evidence of what works, for whom, and in which circumstances – Making pricing less confusing and more transparent What have we learnt from our work so far?
  • 14. Conclusions It’s too early to know what works; there is little evidence and an urgent need for more research to understand nature and scale of the problem There is no cure-all for data poverty. We need multiple solutions addressing different dimensions of data poverty We need scalable solutions that do not widen existing inequalities
  • 16. Any questions for us? Contact Email Patricia@pjlucas.org Rosa@framecollective.org.uk

Editor's Notes

  1. Why we need a new definition - emerging understand of digital exclusion about digital natives and digitally informed
  2. The greater the need for data, the bigger the impact: Unemployed job seekers Families with competing needs for education, employment, entertainment
  3. Jenny lives in Glasgow. Following a diagnosis of a long-term debilitating health condition, Jenny had to give up full time work and is now on Universal Credit. Her relationship also broke down, so she now living alone and struggling to pay all her household bills. This dramatic change in her financial situation meant Jenny had to stop her broadband contract, but access to a phone is vital to stay in touch with her doctor. The coronavirus pandemic meant that Jenny faced an even more difficult time. Being alone during lockdown without access to the internet and a phone was a very lonely and expensive time.
  4. Rhys is a 19-year old care leaver. He’s in full-time education, studying for A-Levels, and lives alone in his flat in South East Wales. Rhys has been able to get a good deal on data and broadband using his experience working for a phone company. However, the high cost of getting enough data means he has very little left for other bills. For Rhys, access to the internet is crucial to be able to stay in touch with friends. Since he lives along this is a priority for him.
  5. A range of solutions to address data poverty are being tried tried by government, industry, civil society and communities. Our previous research suggests these are limited to a relatively small number of activities including: Device donations and loans with data – including educational schemes set up by government to keep learners online and schemes run by charities SIM cards, data top-ups and MiFi donations Public WiFi hotspots – schemes run by local governments, social enterprises and community groups Social broadband tariffs (where people on low incomes may be eligible for reduced cost data via their provider)
  6. Gaunless Gateway Big Local in Durham, identified data poverty as being a big problem for single men living in shared accommodation with no broadband connection. The community group wanted to find a solution and invested time asking the men what they would find helpful – they said WiFi hotspots around the local area, so that’s where the group focused their action….They asked local community spaces, like churches and community centres, shops and cafes to open up their WiFi for community use. ‘Get Connected is a community broadband scheme set up by a social enterprise called HartlePower in the North of England. ‘Get Connected,’ is a WiFi solution for those who cannot traditionally access broadband contracts. They designed a broadband-in-a-box product that was easy to subscribe to, easy to install, and worked on a 4G mobile network. The Get Connected package is £20 a month, with no contract.
  7. Provides 7GB of data per month for 3 months (pilot) and 6 months afterwards Launched with 7.5 million GB of O2 mobile data We are currently evaluating the databank pilot…
  8. There is no cure all for data poverty--we need multiple solutions catering for different needs and cross-sector action It's too early to know what works--there is a lack of data and an urgent need for more research to understand the nature and scale of the problem