People Know How has published a research briefing considering the problem of digital exclusion and how it should be combated, with particular focus on COVID-19. This study forms a call to action, seeking to begin a conversation on tangible structural change.
Changing the mindset
Scottish charity People Know How’s Research Briefings project links academic literature to their findings from consultations and action in the community. These research briefings are written by volunteers, on various topics that have arisen from their work in the community, and published frequently in their database, creating a hub of resources and findings for all to access and benefit from.
Prompted by their computer delivery project, People Know How’s most recent research briefing ‘Combating Digital Exclusion’, advocates for a change in mindset around digital skills and technology. Its author Jack Liddall contextualises the issue within the ‘bigger picture’ and goes on to propose steps that could be taken to remedy the situation.
“There needs to be a change in mindset which underlies whatever “big-picture” solutions are implemented. No longer should digital skills and technology be viewed as a luxury, but rather as a basic necessity.”
The article paints a vivid image of the shift in mindset necessary using the infamous framework of Maslow’s Hierarchy. This hierarchy, frequently pictured as a triangle, places our basic physiological needs at the bottom. Moving up, the following tiers are safety and security, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualisation at the pinnacle. Liddall critiques those who place these elements on the second highest tier of the hierarchy, alongside luxury items that are considered to contribute to self-estimation. He advocates instead for them to be seen as a necessity, further down the hierarchy.
What differentiates this study from others is the tangible solutions that are proposed in the second half. These are presented as possible routes to explore, approaching the issue from a variety of angles. From government initiatives and manifestos, to rethinking how to supply and access broadband, to coordinating across sectors, these solutions lead to one clear call to action – to get involved in this conversation, work together, and bring about real structural change.
People Know How has been running projects to combat digital exclusion for over five years. As part of their COVID-19 emergency response they have been collecting unwanted old devices, refurbishing them, and delivering them to people in need. They then offer phone support for set up and internet connection. The project has been well received and they are now on track to deliver over 1,000 devices to homes across Edinburgh and East Lothian. Now they want to use their experiences to support a campaign for digital equity.
They’re opening up the discussion and want to hear your thoughts. Contact them now at firstname.lastname@example.org or join their social innovation network to stay updated with the debate.
Read the full briefing: https://peopleknowhow.org/combating-digital-exclusion
Join the social innovation network: http://peopleknowhow.org/connect-four