September 05, 2013, 10:04 AM — A big data analysis project is aiming to leverage a wide range of government and academic data to help understand and find solutions to the problem of digital exclusion in the UK.
This 'digital divide' is a problems for many people within the UK and, according to research from charity Go ON UK, 16 million people in the UK aged 15 and over still don't have basic online skills. At the same time 90% of all jobs will require ICT skills by 2015.
In order to gain greater insight into the causes of digital exclusion, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has joined with Ofcom and not-for-profit group the Tinder Foundation in order to examine data from a variety of sources relating to computer literacy in the UK.
Other attendees at the Social Digital Research Symposium will include number of universities including the Office for National Statistics, Oxford Internet Institute, as well as academic institutions such as Edinburgh University and Liverpool John Moores University, and charities including Age UK and AbilityNet.
The event, being held today at Ofcom's London offices, will inform a number of reports which are expected to be published during early 2014.
The research, part of a series of Social Digital Research Symposium events, will aim to uncover links between an individuals' personal environment and their ability to use and interact with digital information.
Datasets from the various organisation relating to citizen demographics such as education, unemployment, smartphone usage and online access within social housing, will be analysed as part of the project. The researchers will analyse over 50GB of data, providing information on tens of thousands of people gathered over a number of years.
"What we will be looking at what today are the big questions around digital inclusion that go beyond the basic things that we already know, and see if we can use the data to come up with some more in-depth and nuanced answers to those questions," Dr Ellen Helsper at the LSE told ComputerworldUK.
"We hope to have an impact with the government and regulators who are really trying to make sure that the population of the country is digitally skilled and capable of being engaged with the information society that we are moving towards."