A new scheme to help tens of thousands more Londoners get online and reduce digital exclusion has been launched today by the Mayor Sadiq Khan, in partnership with the London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI), and Good Things Foundation.
An estimated 270,000 Londoners have no access to the internet or digital access at all, with a further 2 million having very limited use, for example those without their own device to get online, or those who can get online but have difficulty accessing online forms or internet banking.
The service will be funded by the London Recovery Programme as part of Sadiq’s commitment to upskilling Londoners, aiding post-covid recovery and boosting the economy.
Research by the London Office of Technology & Innovation (LOTI) has found there are more than 100 different initiatives across the capital to address digital exclusion, but these often offer only part of the support people need, like basic skills, a device or a cheap connection. As a result, it isn’t easy for digitally excluded Londoners, or those that support them, to access what they need.
The new Digital Inclusion Service pilot scheme will offer Londoners all they need to get online wherever they live. Lack of a device has been reported as one of the major contributing factors to digital exclusion and the service will target large organisations and businesses to donate unwanted phones and laptops to be refurbished for Londoners who need them – also helping to reduce the number of old devices sent to landfill.
The Digital Inclusion Service will be developed in partnership with LOTI and digital inclusion charity Good Things Foundation, and its key aims are:
- Upcycling old devices from public bodies and businesses for distribution to digitally excluded Londoners through a new Device Bank run by Good Things Foundation
- Providing free or low-cost mobile connectivity via a Data Bank and the promotion of ‘social tariffs’ (cheap internet connections offered by telecommunications firms)
- Linking to existing skills offers by Good Things Foundation and hundreds of GLA-funded free adult education courses on basic skills, as well as borough and voluntary and community sector provision across the capital.
- Creating a cross-London digital inclusion network of organisations building on existing work to tackle digital exclusion
The scheme will bring together organisations who support digitally excluded Londoners and will explore how more digitally excluded groups could also be offered a device, a free or cheap connection, and basic skills training, including:
- Londoners in temporary accommodation
- Families and households still lacking a device
- Older or vulnerable people through social services or their GP
- Local community organisation staff and volunteers to support their work locally
Launching the scheme at the London Digital Inclusion conference at the Museum of London today, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said, “Every Londoner should have digital access, but the sad reality is that too many Londoners lack the skills, technology and infrastructure to get online easily, preventing them from accessing the tools they need to thrive.
“The new Digital Inclusion Service will build on the amazing work already underway to tackle digital exclusion, and bring vital resources such as devices, connectivity, and learning opportunities to the fingertips of those who need them.
“I’m calling on large businesses and public bodies to join us in upcycling their old laptops and other tech to the new Device Bank to be reconditioned, to help bridge the digital divide, aid London’s recovery and build a better London for everyone.”