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Digital Inclusion Action Plan 2020–2021

Foreword

From late March 2020, New Zealand was at COVID-19 Alert Levels 4 and 3. During this time, thousands of people worked and learned from home instead of going into school, university or the office. Businesses had to rely on online ordering and payment systems to provide no-contact transactions for their customers, which was new territory for many.

This situation highlighted how fundamental digital inclusion is for New Zealand’s economic and social wellbeing, and how significant the real-world impacts are for those who are excluded. When the internet and digital devices become our main access point to the world outside our bubbles, those who didn’t have what they needed to participate were at a serious disadvantage. Beyond work and education, the internet became a vital tool during the lockdown to get help to people who needed it, build community, and share official information and updates from officials and elected representatives.

Our best estimate is that one in five people in New Zealand lack at least one of the four elements needed to be digitally included – motivation, access, skills or trust. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the realities of the digital divide for New Zealanders who struggle to connect, communicate and get access to essential services. As the pandemic continues to exert social and economic pressure on New Zealanders, the challenges for digitally-excluded individuals and groups are likely to become more pronounced, with the impact of social inequality likely to be exacerbated.

Government has important roles to play towards ensuring everyone is digitally included, through funding and delivering services, and putting in strong foundations for ongoing, cohesive action towards a digitally included New Zealand. Our 2019 Digital Inclusion Action Plan focused on building strong foundations, and we’re proud of what we achieved. This year, the focus is on the delivery work government does to fund and provide services to people in New Zealand who are not digitally included.

This Action Plan is about the work going on across central government to achieve digital inclusion in New Zealand. Of course, we are not alone in working towards this goal. We will continue to work alongside others in the sector and community who provide crucial services and support, as well as listen to the people who face barriers to digital inclusion. We will also continue to join up across government to learn from each other and find ways to make the biggest impact we can.

Ann-Marie Cavanagh, Deputy Government Chief Digital Officer.

Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua.

Background

In 2019, the New Zealand Government launched the Digital Inclusion Blueprint, which sets out the high-level vision that:

Everyone in New Zealand has what they need to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from a digital world.

Government's vision: The Digital Inclusion Blueprint

The Blueprint defines digital inclusion in New Zealand, sets out the barriers, current state, work already underway, and roles of government in the work towards achieving digital inclusion.

The Blueprint highlighted that there was no agreed approach for measuring digital inclusion in New Zealand, insufficient data to build a clear and actionable picture of who is not digitally included, and no overarching plan for where to focus future work.

The Blueprint included a five-year strategic direction for government’s work towards digital inclusion. The 2019 Digital Inclusion Action Plan focussed on “building the foundation” to address many of the issues highlighted in the Blueprint.

This Action Plan for 2020 and 2021 builds on the work done in 2019. There is an increased focus on work happening in different agencies to address aspects of digital inclusion. The Action Plan also highlights future opportunities and emerging issues to explore during 2020 and 2021, many of which have been highlighted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Digital inclusion, more than getting a device and internet connection

It can be easy to think that achieving digital inclusion is just about making sure everyone has a digital device and is connected to the internet. While that is very important (and addresses access), digital exclusion is multi-faceted and can affect different people in different ways. This makes achieving full digital inclusion a complex task.

Digital inclusion is an end-state where everyone has equitable opportunities to participate in society using digital technologies.

Digital Inclusion Research Group, 2017

For the purposes of this Action Plan, a digitally included person, whānau or community has convenient, reliable access to affordable, accessible digital devices and an internet connection, and can confidently use them in their day-to-day life. What it means to be digitally included will look different for different people — it is not one-size-fits all.

The framework we use to describe digital inclusion uses 4 interdependent elements which are needed for a person to be digitally included: motivation, access (including affordability, connectivity and accessibility), skills, and trust.

Access

Access is about having access to digital devices, services, software and content that meet our needs at a cost we can afford. It is also about being able to connect to the internet where we work, live and play.

Skills

Skills are about having the digital know-how to use the internet in ways that are appropriate and beneficial for each of us.

Motivation

Motivation is about understanding how the internet can help us connect, learn or access opportunities, and consequently have a meaningful reason to engage with the digital world.

Trust

Trust is about having trust in the internet and online services. It is also about having the digital literacy to manage personal information and to understand and avoid scams, harmful communication and misleading information. This element also touches on the themes of online safety, digital understanding, confidence and resilience.

More information about what each of these elements look like in practice:

How digital inclusion is measured

Work towards a digitally included New Zealand is well underway

Digital inclusion work in New Zealand has an impact across 2 fronts.

Supporting individuals and communities

Direct interventions that help with 1 or more elements of digital inclusion at a national, community, whānau or individual level.

Supporting the wider digital inclusion system

This includes initiatives to grow New Zealand’s understanding of digital inclusion through:

  • research and analysis
  • develop and implement standards and frameworks to support aspects of digital inclusion
  • make connections between different digital inclusion initiatives.

Community organisations, iwi, hapū, businesses, libraries, philanthropic organisations, charities, and local and central government all provide services in 1 or both of the above areas, across the 4 elements of digital inclusion.

It is clear that no organisation or sector can solve this challenge on their own.

The role of government in digital inclusion

Making sure everyone in New Zealand is digitally included is a team effort.

Central government has an important part to play in, and our focus is on the following.

Deliver

  • Delivering services that address aspects of digital inclusion (across a range of agencies).
  • Collaborating with communities, other agencies and the wider sector to solve problems and increase digital inclusion.

Lead

  • Being trusted subject matter experts in digital inclusion.
  • Collaborating inside and outside government to determine priority areas and future direction.
  • Leading by example by working towards accessible government digital content and online services can be used by everyone.
  • Collating data to measure the progress towards digital inclusion.

Connect

  • Bringing visibility to the work being done to address aspects of digital inclusion.
  • Making links between people, funders, initiatives and communities both inside and outside government working on digital inclusion to maximise impact.

Support

  • Providing support and information to communities, organisations and businesses working to address digital inclusion issues.
  • Making a case for investment to address identified priority areas.

Where should effort be focussed?

A wide range of groups have been identified through research and engagement as being at risk of not being digitally included. Many initiatives underway inside and outside government aim to address the diverse needs of these groups. However, there is still a lot of work to do to ensure everyone is digitally included.

In 2019, the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) commissioned a report from Motu Research, which identified Māori, Pacific peoples, people with disabilities, seniors (especially those over 75 years), those not employed or actively seeking work, and people living in larger country towns as groups where particular effort should be focused.

Report: Digital Inclusion and Wellbeing in New Zealand

Physical distancing requirements due to COVID-19 highlighted other areas to focus on, including ensuring students have what they need to learn from home, and that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can have an effective digital presence.

The Digital Council of Aotearoa New Zealand has provided advice to Ministers about accelerating work towards digital inclusion and highlighted the importance of not looking at the elements of digital inclusion in isolation.

For example, the Council noted that making sure a household has a modem is not an effective intervention if people do not have the skills, motivation or support to get it working.

Beyond COVID-19: Advice to the Ministers from the Digital Council

Who delivers this Action Plan?

The range of initiatives to address 1 or more elements of digital inclusion are delivered by many different agencies, reporting to their respective Ministers.

The lead agency is noted under the description for each initiative in the Action Plan.

Actions that support the wider digital inclusion environment are largely led by the Digital Public Service branch of Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) under the Government Chief Digital Officer, Paul James, and reporting to the Minister for Government Digital Services.

In order to ensure there is coherence across all the work going on, there is oversight across the ‘digital inclusion system’ by a range of public sector Chief Executives through the Digital Government Leadership Group of the Digital Government Partnership.

More information to support the Action Plan

The Digital Inclusion Blueprint lays out the Government’s vision for digital inclusion in New Zealand, the role it will play and steps it will take toward realising this vision.

Government’s vision: The Digital Inclusion Blueprint

The Digital Inclusion Outcomes Framework describes how we will measure digital inclusion and its benefits in New Zealand.

How digital inclusion is measured

Digital Inclusion action plans:

Digital inclusion research:

Actions to support individuals, communities and the wider digital inclusion system

A wide range of government agencies provide services and distribute funding to address 1 or more elements of digital inclusion for different groups.

Many of these initiatives have had new funding allocated in 2020, reflecting the importance of digital inclusion in the context of New Zealand’s battle against, and recovery from, COVID-19.

This section highlights key initiatives across the sector and aims to give a high-level picture of the types of work underway. It is not a comprehensive list of all government initiatives that contribute to 1 or more elements of digital inclusion.

A wider stocktake of government initiatives was carried out in 2019:

Stocktake: Digital inclusion initiatives

Access: connectivity, affordability and accessibility

Many people do not have access to the internet at home, and if they do, need help using devices or accessing services.

2013 Census data suggests that between 45,000 to 70,000 New Zealanders have no landline telephone or internet.

A number of key initiatives underway focused on the ‘access’ element of digital inclusion, including:

Marae digital connectivity

This multi-agency initiative aims to help over 300 marae connect to the internet.

This project is led by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP), and received funding from the Provincial Growth Fund.

The aim of connecting marae is to help communities seize business and education opportunities even in rural areas, as well as helping whānau stay in touch and Māori to connect with their iwi. The funding includes broadband connection for five years, service desk support and the required hardware and connection. It is expected that all marae that are part of the programme will be connected, and have essential infrastructure installed before 31 July 2021.

Marae Connectivity Programme

Connected libraries

In May 2020, $4 million over 4 years was announced to extend the National Library’s Aotearoa Peoples’ Network Kaharoa (APNK) public internet service to all public libraries.

Any member of the public will be able to have free access to the internet and use of devices at their local library.

An additional $30 million over two years will fund and upskill librarians in public libraries so they can provide greater support for library users and help bolster reading and digital literacy.

This work is led by the National Library of New Zealand and is part of a wider $60 million package to support library services.

Regional digital hubs

In May 2020, the Provincial Growth Fund allocated $2 million to establish five regional digital hubs in Gisborne, Katikati, Horowhenua, Woodville, and Murupara.

The hubs will offer services such as free wi-fi, co-working spaces, guidance about using the internet for business purposes, and help to develop digital skills.

A range of local organisations, including councils, will be running the hubs in their region.

The five hubs announced in 2020 are in addition to $3.6 million allocated in 2019 for eight initial digital regional hubs in Northland, West Coast, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Manawatū/Whanganui/Horowhenua.

Rural connectivity

Some rural areas do not have the infrastructure required to enable internet access.

Research has found that people living in rural areas, including rural towns and cities are at risk of being digitally excluded.

In 2017, Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) assessed that 90,000 rural households and businesses were unable to access broadband at speeds fast enough to effectively work or learn from home.

The Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI), which is in its second phase, aims to reduce the number by as much as possible. CIP has currently contracted to provide enhanced broadband for about 84,000 of these 90,000 households and businesses.

In May 2020, $15 million of funding was announced from savings in the Ultra-Fast Broadband programme to bring forward upgrades to rural internet infrastructure.

This project aims to enable broadband coverage for 30,000 households and businesses in remote areas. It will prioritise the upgrade of mobile towers in rural areas where there are high numbers of school-age children living in households that cannot access the internet.

Rural Broadband Initiative phase 2

Equitable access at home

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of people being able to work, learn and access services digitally.

Ministry of Education estimates that between 100,000 to 150,000 students (in approximately 80,000 households) do not have internet access at home.

The Ministry of Education has been working to ensure that households with school-aged students have internet connections and digital devices to ensure they can learn from home.

At the time of writing, the Ministry expects to connect around 50,000 of these households in 2020 in response to COVID-19.

The equitable access for students at home programme has been underway for a number of years and has focussed on getting communities around the country connected to the internet so students can learn, and explore the possibilities of the digital world, at home.

The work over COVID-19 represents a scaling up of this programme.

In addition to ensuring homes are connected and people have devices, the Ministry of Education and Tertiary Education Commission are working on programmes targeting secondary school students and tertiary students who are struggling to engage an online learning experience.

Post COVID-19, sustainable ongoing connectivity options for these households is a broader digital inclusion question.

Getting social housing connected to the internet

Kāinga Ora is in discussion with fibre companies with a view of establishing a programme of work to have Ultrafast Broadband installed in all Kainga Ora homes.

There is already a process in place with fibre companies, and some other installers, to fast-track owner approvals where Kainga Ora customers have requested fibre installation.

This project is in a relatively early stage and timeframes are yet to be confirmed.

Ultra-Fast Broadband

MBIE’s Ultra-Fast Broadband programme (UFB) is delivering high capacity and future proofed broadband for urban New Zealand by making fibre-to-the-premises connectivity available to households, businesses, schools and health centres.

UFB roll out is not only for major urban centres but is bringing connectivity to some of New Zealand’s smallest towns. Once completed, 87% of New Zealanders will have access to fibre.

Mobile Black Spot Fund

The Mobile Black Spot Fund (MBSF) is delivering new mobile coverage on state highways and at tourist areas, supporting safety on state highways and enhancing visitor experiences at key tourist destinations.

Around 1,400km of State Highway and over 168 tourism sites will receive mobile coverage. MBIE is leading this initiative.

Sponsored data

Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Health provides access to information and services and websites at little or no cost.

This means that people do not need to use limited data in order to access government information and services.

This is an ongoing initiative, and there is a future opportunity for DIA to lead work on whether this model can be used by other agencies to ensure access to services and information.

Web accessibility

There is work underway by Ministry of Social Development and DIA to ensure that government websites are accessible, and there are standards in place for agencies to apply, although there is still significant room for improvement across the sector.

Work underway to help raise the accessibility of government websites and adherence with web standards includes identifying the most common accessibility issues across government websites and supporting agencies to prioritise and remediate their top web accessibility issues. Work will also focus on establishing KPIs for digital accessibility and making a dashboard for agency and all-of-government current state and progress towards full accessibility of government websites.

From August 2020 to March 2021, DIA will be researching the systemic and other barriers preventing government organisations from meeting the Web Accessibility Standard.

The results from this research will help us understand how the accessibility is considered and applied within government organisations and inform a programme of targeted guidance and support to help those organisations deliver online information and services that are accessible to all, regardless of disability.

Skills: know how to use the internet and digital technology

Many people do not have the skills they need to comfortably engage with the digital world, whether that is for home, school or in their businesses.

About 5% of respondents in a 2014 OECD survey of adult skills in New Zealand had no prior experience with computers or lacked basic computer skills and 13% did not use a computer in everyday life.

About 45% of respondents had only very basic internet skills.

There are initiatives in this area that relate to the skills element of digital inclusion, but also touch on trust and motivation.

Building digital skills for individuals and whānau

The Government has allocated $10 million for 2020/21 to increase the digital skills of individuals and whānau.

DIA is administering this funding and has a contract with the Manaiakalani Education Trust to investigate and design these services.

The intent is that the Trust will also deliver the skills services.

The expected outcome is up to 30,000 people will be equipped with foundational digital skills and the confidence to use the internet and digital devices.

The services are currently being designed, with final deliverables and timeframe yet to be confirmed.

Building digital skills for small to medium enterprises (SMEs)

The Government has allocated $5 million for 2020/21 to help lift digital skills for SMEs.

DIA is administering this funding and work is underway to scope this project and what will be delivered.

This is a targeted programme of digital skills packages to enable up to 1,000 SMEs owned by Māori, Pasifika, or disabled people to engage in the digital world.

The packages will help these SMEs develop networks and skills to sustain their business activity and diversify into different markets. The exact content of these skills packages and timeframes for delivery are still in development.

MBIE also have a programme of work to support SMEs to thrive in the digital economy.

This programme encourages small businesses to increase their e-commerce capability, train more digital advisors and provide information and support for SMEs wanting incorporate e-commerce into their business models.

Digital literacy training for seniors

This programme, which is led by the Office for Seniors in the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) will improve digital skills and inclusion of older people to ensure they are not excluded from the benefits of a digital/technological world.

Government allocated $600,000 in the 2019 Budget for the three-year programme, and it aims reach a total of 4,700 people.

Providers have been funded to deliver programmes to seniors, so they can better understand technology and the digital world, connect to the internet and digital devices, and carry out online activities safely, with trust and confidence.

Funding digital literacy programmes for adult learners

The Tertiary Education Commission is currently funding the delivery of programmes that help adult learners develop digital skills so that they can engage the digital world for home and work.

Marae Digital Connectivity Skills Initiative

This opportunity is for training providers who are based in priority regions of New Zealand to provide a series of in-depth training workshops to the kaitiaki of marae who are responsible for the upkeep and use of their marae.

The workshops will be in person and will focus on the most effective way that marae can use the broadband and hardware packages they have received as part of the Marae Digital Connectivity programme.

Motivation: connect, learn, access opportunities and engage

In addition to initiatives to directly support people who are digitally excluded, research and insight gathering will continue to strengthen the sector’s understanding of the barriers and enablers to support New Zealanders to confidently connect to the digital world.

The evidence will continue to help government agencies create conditions, inform policy development and make better informed investment decisions.

A 2030 vision for digital equity

DIA will develop a 2030 vision for digital equity that will be implemented across the public service.

The vision and work to support it will add structure to the work across government towards digital equity and will be formalised and adopted by agencies.

The intention of a digital equity vision is to motivate agencies and stimulate conditions, so all New Zealanders can realise the social and economic benefits of a digital world and receive government services in a timely and affordable way as more and more services are moved online.

Work to support the vision will include ensuring better coordination of resource, improved coherence of initiatives across the sector, and establishment of a set of milestones to achieve digital equity by 2030.

The vision is expected to be formalised in December 2020.

Supporting digital inclusion for Māori

Research shows that Māori are less likely to be digitally included than the wider population.

It is important to understand the barriers that Māori communities and organisations, iwi, hāpu and whānau face, and work together to design and deliver solutions.

The Digital Inclusion Blueprint established Te Whata Kōrero, a platform for tāngata whenua to discuss digital inclusion as a collective and whakairihia (elevate) their measurable goals and aspirations. This means not only thinking of addressing immediate needs, but also looking forward to what is likely to be an increasingly digital future.

In 2020 and 2021, there are three key initiatives which aim to build the foundation of evidence for digital inclusion for Māori. These also contribute to the motivation element of digital inclusion.

The initiatives are:

  • A stocktake of the initiatives which support digital inclusion and the future of work for Māori. This is 1 area which has not been explored in depth in the stocktakes to date.
  • Scoping a digital inclusion research agenda for Māori and find partners and secure funding to undertake this research.
  • Undertake user insights work with Māori to understand the barriers to digital inclusion. This work is underway, and a draft report will be published on digital.govt.nz later in 2020.
User insights research

A seven-part user insights research project is underway, conducted by researchers at DIA, to understand the perceptions and feelings about digital inclusion from people who are digitally excluded as they go about their daily lives.

The goal is to understand the key pain points for individuals, what they liked about the current system and what improvements could be made to ensure a more equitable digital environment for all.

There will be 7 research reports published on digital.govt.nz focusing on the following groups:

  • Māori
  • Pacific people
  • people with disabilities
  • older people (especially those over 75 years)
  • people living in social housing
  • unemployed
  • people living in remote geographic areas.

To date, DIA researchers have met with Māori and members of the disability community, with the Pasifika, remote communities and social housing research to follow next.

The final reports will be released by the end of June 2021.

Trust: safety, digital understanding, confidence and resilience

Trust is broad and complex element and there is a lot work in this space.

A key focus for government is online safety and ensuring that people can safely go online is an important aspect of digital inclusion.

This Action Plan highlights two key initiatives currently underway.

Digital safety group

The Digital Safety Group at DIA plays a key role in keeping New Zealanders safe online.

The group works closely with the New Zealand Police, New Zealand Customs, CERT, Netsafe, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, Internet service providers and the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

The group’s actions are undertaken in accordance with the Film, Videos and Publications Classification Act and the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act.

This includes preventing the distribution of, and access to objectionable material, and dealing with commercial and harmful electronic messages.

The work collaborates with national and international stakeholders in the development of digital safety initiatives and projects.

This includes working to meet the objectives and goals of our international agreements such as the Christchurch Call and the Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.

Creating a safe online environment for children and young people

The Government has allocated $3.6 million to develop and roll out a public awareness campaign to create a safe online environment for children and young people. DIA is leading this campaign in collaboration with Netsafe, the Office of Film and Literature Classification, the Ministry of Education and other agencies that operate in the online safety space.

The first phase, which resulted in the Keep It Real Online campaign, centred around four videos that used humour to promote important messages about online risks and online safety and a website, Keep it Real Online, for more information.

The 4 promotional videos spotlighted online risks like children watching age-inappropriate content and pornography, and threats like online grooming and online bullying. The New Zealand government received international recognition for launching a campaign with relevant messages in a way that resonated with people all over the world.

The second phase is currently underway and will span over 12 months. It will extend on Phase One’s aim of the campaign with more targeted messaging and resources for children and young people.

The intention is to enable them to identify online risks and ways to manage these situations.

More research is being commissioned to ensure that messages resonate with the target audience.

Results from this research will help us tailor messages and resources to be more effective, to help achieve the outcome of safer online experiences for New Zealand children and young people.

Emerging issues and opportunities

The actions outlined in this plan address the 4 elements of digital exclusion for many of the groups most likely to be digitally excluded.

However, even when paired with the significant effort going on outside central government, New Zealand is unlikely to reach full digital inclusion in the next few years.

This work is given added urgency in our current pandemic environment, where New Zealand needs to be ready for any necessary moves to higher alert levels, including a return to widespread remote work, learning and contactless business.

This section outlines emerging issues and opportunities where actions could be developed in 2020 and 2021 to help accelerate work towards a digitally included New Zealand and mitigate specific risks arising as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ensuring central government content and services can be used by everyone

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of government’s role in providing authoritative, timely information to people in New Zealand.

At the moment, not all government websites are accessible.

For example, some content cannot be used with a screen reader, websites can be hard to navigate, and some video content does not have captions or a sign language interpreter.

It is also important to ensure that people can access government services even if they do not have a big data plan or the internet at home.

There is work already underway in these areas, although much of it is in the early stages.

These actions aim to ensure that people who are not digitally included can still conveniently access government services, that everyone, including disabled people and people that do not have strong English language skills can access government information.

The Accessibility Charter work programme is an example in progress.

Ensuring non-digital access to government services

In 2020, work will start to take place to explore service alternatives for people who are unable or unwilling to engage with government through digital channels.

This will include working closely with intermediaries who currently work with digitally excluded people to help them access services.

This work will ensure that people who are digitally excluded can conveniently engage with government services and access entitlements through alternative channels or gain the skills and access they need to participate digitally.

DIA will scope this work and plans to work with MBIE, and the Ministry of Social Development on this project.

However, we recognise non-digital access will be time-bound as more and more government services will only be available online in the future.

Ensuring people having access to essential services is becoming a system wide issue and therefore the response will require a system-wide approach outside of these 3 agencies’ remit.

This will also provide opportunities to better understand and respond to motivation and trust concerns that can then be used to inform responses in other parts of the programme.

Affordability of devices and internet connectivity

An important part of the ‘access’ element of digital inclusion is the affordability of devices and internet connections.

User insights research has found this often a lower priority than buying food and paying for other utility bills for people under financial pressure (Out of the Maze, 2018).

Connectivity is a catalyst for improved social and economic outcomes and opportunities so it is important that any identified barriers to uptake, including affordability of broadband services, are sufficiently addressed.

The issue of affordability has been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, more people faced financial hardship, data use increased as more people went online to work and learn from home, and other access points such as public Wi-Fi at libraries were temporarily unavailable over Alert Levels 4 and 3.

A number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) put short-term programmes in place to help people stay connected over Alert Levels 2, 3 and 4, including removing data caps and waiving late payment fees, However, many of these programmes came to an end on 1 July 2020.

There is an opportunity for government to lead a joined-up discussion about the levers available to address affordability as a barrier to improve uptake of services and connections.

DIA will lead work on starting this discussion and will approach other agencies, civil society and private sector organisations to be part of the discussion and draw on research and resulting recommendations that have already been made in this area.

Robust data on connectivity

One of the key challenges faced by agencies, such as the Ministry of Education’s project to provide connectivity to households as part of the COVID-19 response, is the lack of an integrated dataset of unconnected households.

Resolving this data gap would greatly increase the effectiveness of any future government responses to address access and affordability.

Other digitally disadvantaged groups

The COVID-19 experience also exposed digital inclusion challenges for a range of groups that were not identified by the Motu research.

Groups such as Ethnic Communities (African, Asian, Continental European, Latin American and Middle Eastern) who make up 20 % of New Zealand Aotearoa population raised concern about the affordability of data as a particular barrier to accessing information during COVID-19 lock down.

We anticipate more distressed groups will come forward as we settle in to a post COVID recovery period.

Further collaboration with the wider digital inclusion sector

One of the key roles of government is to connect, and make links between people, funders, initiatives and communities both inside and outside government working on digital inclusion to maximise impact.

This is something that has been started, but there is room to further increase activities in this area.

In May 2020, InternetNZ released a 5 point plan for digital inclusion, which suggested actions that various government agencies could take across 5 key areas to further advance towards digital inclusion in New Zealand.

The five point plan for digital inclusion: COVID-19 and beyond

Many of these actions are underway to some extent across the system.

However, the InternetNZ plan highlights the opportunity for more cross sector collaboration with community organisations, industry and other key stakeholders invested in the digital inclusion agenda.

Contact the Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua digital inclusion team at digitalinclusion@dia.govt.nz.

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