Research and Develop Strategy

Begin by researching the issues and environment, in order to generate insights and define the strategy for increasing digital participation.

The UK team set out to understand the issue and the situation by visiting approximately 50 organisations already helping people to get online.  They also reviewed existing research and papers on the topic.

Key Learning: It’s about motivation as well as affordability and skills

In reviewing existing research, the UK team found that many people were offline by choice yet much of the support that already existed focused on the other barriers to internet use, namely affordability and skills.  People needed to be inspired to use the internet and shown how it could benefit them.

Consequently, the team looked to change the message from the disadvantages of being offline to the benefits of being online to bring about behavioural change.

Key Learning: There are benefits for all

Digital participation should be viewed as an opportunity to deliver enormous benefits for all organisations including government: moving people online has the potential to increase the customer base of some organisations and reduce the cost to serve customers in other cases.

Key Learning: Broad engagement not ‘pilots’

To create the capacity required to bring about large scale behaviour change, the UK adopted a broad engagement approach with all sectors.  It was a conscious decision not to deliver a ‘pilot’ as this could only ‘pin prick’ the issue, and future roll-out would be uncertain.

Key Learning: Break the national challenge down into manageable parts

The Race Online 2012 team developed a Go ON Places strategy describing how it aimed to leverage the support of national Partners at a local level and inspire digital champions to “get active wherever they live, work or play”.

There are four pillars to the strategy:

  1. Digital Infrastructure: Removing affordability as a barrier by increasing access to low cost hardware and connectivity for the most disadvantaged people and charities in local areas.
  2. Local spaces: Increasing the number and range of local places where people offline can get sustained support to build their digital capability
  3. Digital champions: Recruiting and supporting a thriving local network of local digital champions so that sustainable one-to-one support is available in every neighbourhood
  4. Marketing/ PR: Developing a strong local marketing campaign to promote the benefits of being online and inspire people to take up the support on offer

Originally piloted in Leeds, Liverpool and other UK town and cities, the model is designed to be tailored to local needs and priorities.  The strategy for Go ON it’s Liverpool, for example, focused on the benefits to economic growth and regeneration in the city.

The model (now called Go ON Get Local), has now become embedded within Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), the agency responsible for the roll out of superfast broadband in the UK.  BDUK has adopted the model as a blueprint for local demand stimulation programmes to ensure the roll out of superfast broadband infrastructure is viable and sustainable.