Quality research is so important in any environment. Research provides evidence based solutions to social problems, enables identification of root causes, evaluation of how effective solutions and programmes have become and helps to inform new strategies to address inequality. Research can also inform policy, promotes accountability and transparency and can be used to amplify voices.
In the digital equity space we need to understand more about the quality and accessibility of access to infrastructure - what is an affordable price for an internet connection? Or how many ākonga (learners) do not have an adequate device to carry out their studies? We also need to understand more about the digital literacy gap, the level of social exclusion the digital divide in Aotearoa has created and quantify the economic opportunity closing that divide could create.
When the BNZ released their Digital Skills for Life report in 2022 many of us were thrilled, finally a comprehensive analysis of the digital skills challenge.
Research like this is invaluable in the not-for-profit space, it enables us to ensure we are delivering targeted solutions, can be used as part of the evidence base for funding applications and help shape our programmes for the future.
While the BNZ report is fantastic it looks at just one dimension, skills, the digital equity space is broader than this. The government has promised our community a range of research over the years, the now defunct Digital Council promised comprehensive research out of their Inclusion work stream early in 2021, this now sits with Department of Internal Affairs. The Ministry of Education commissioned a report by Gravel Road in 2022 which is yet to be released, and there are more examples like this rumoured within the DECA community.
It’s not all bad on the government front, but it is slow. Last week I met with DIA and Statistics NZ to discuss how the community can gain access to Government research. DIA will be publishing a Digital economy measurement framework in 2026 (according to the Digital Strategy Action Plan) and Statistics have included digital equity questions in their 2023 General Social Survey - sadly this won’t be out until mid 2024.
Many organisations have commissioned research on digital equity in the past 5 years, and DECA aims to bring this research to light so that it can be utilised by the wider community. We would like to ask for your help in identifying any recent published research output or reports, so that we can compile a comprehensive overview of the research landscape in this area.
In addition to sharing the research or relevant summary reports, we plan to identify any gaps in the existing research and collaborate with partners to commission targeted research to update the data and address these gaps. This will be particularly important in light of the changes brought about by the Covid pandemic. By understanding how this crisis has impacted the digital equity landscape, we can ensure that our mahi is informed by the most up-to-date information.
If you are aware of any research on digital inclusion or digital equity, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not the author of the research, please provide us with contact information so that we can seek permission to share the findings. Even if you do not have the report yourself, but you know of its existence, please still let us know, and include as much information as possible. Additionally, if you are aware of any research that is not specifically related to digital equity but has insights that could be useful in this space, let us know about that as well.
We will keep you updated as this project progresses. Ngā mihi Vic and the DECA team.