It is becoming increasingly important that programmes to combat poverty and social exclusion take into account the digital divide.
The Digital Bus, which will travel to Bordeaux’s most deprived areas to provide access to ICT equipment and skills, was the main focus of the study visit on e-skills and inclusion we hosted on 15 November in Bordeaux.
Access to computers and internet, and the skills to use them, are becoming increasingly important in European society. The situation of people who are poor and vulnerable can deteriorate further if they are unable to use online tools to apply for benefits and social housing, or access training and jobs. It is therefore increasingly important that programmes to combat poverty and social exclusion take into account the digital divide.
A number of cities are already taking steps in this direction. The study visit participants had the opportunity to get on board Bordeaux’s Digital Bus, discuss the best equipment and software, and talk about how to create a low-threshold, easily-accessible and highly-visible service. The discussions focused on reaching out to vulnerable groups through collaboration with social landlords and local NGOs.
A speednetworking session allowed the participants to find out what other cities are doing to close the digital gap, and how to further this work. Examples from other cities included:
Digitkriebels in Ghent, which aims to ensure children develop e-skills early on by providing sets of equipment and online educational games
‘A society in which I am learning and feeling good’ in Rijeka has so far provided access to ICT tools and skills to more than 2,500 elderly people, helping to prevent exclusion and isolation.
Sheffield Community Network has created a range of digital hubs throughout the city that help create and safeguard jobs, particularly in deprived neighbourhoods
‘Faster than I can handle’ is a strategy being developed in Utrecht, which involves creating a ‘Live and Learn’ network that involves public libraries, welfare and volunteer organisations, educational institutions and city services, with the aim to help vulnerable citizens keep up with changing technology
More details on all five projects will be provided in the upcoming report on the study visit.