Politics

Public Service Digital Associates to deliver the UK on-line

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude encouraged officials to share their digital skills with friends, family, neighbors or colleagues who are offline by launching the Cabinet Office and Government Digital Service’s digital friends initiative.

By raising awareness and encouraging digital skills teaching, civil servants can help reach the estimated 21% of the UK population who lack the basic digital skills necessary to benefit from the internet. Helping more people get online will also help address broader social problems and support economic growth.

The Digital Friends program encourages public service officials to find someone they know who needs help with getting online and to provide them with basic skills advice and support. This can include web browsing, email, and online security. With #DigitalFriends you can share your experiences on Facebook and Twitter.

People from across the public sector are invited to become Digital Friends.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:

As part of the government’s long-term economic plan, we aim to reduce the UK’s offline population by 25% every 2 years so that anyone who can be online can be online by 2020. We work in partnership with the public, private and voluntary sectors to help people use and benefit from the internet.

I call on officials and the public at large to do something great in your community by becoming a digital friend.

Partner organizations such as the BBC, Three, Barclays, BT and The Society of Chief Librarians will encourage their employees to become Digital Friends. The program will also be part of existing work by partner organizations such as Go On UK, Digital Unite, Age UK, EE, Lloyds and Tinder Foundation.

Kerensa Jennings, Head of Strategic Delivery at the BBC, said:

The BBC Make it Digital flagship initiative aims to inspire a new generation to get creative with coding, programming and digital technology. Throughout 2015 and beyond, we would like to shed some light on the wonderful world of the digital and do our part to help people discover the multitude of opportunities for learning digital skills across the UK. Digital Friends helps people get started through friends, family and colleagues they know and trust. BBC Make it Digital is pleased about the support and commitment.

Ciara Eastell, President of the Society of Chief Librarians, said:

Here at the Society of Chief Librarians, we want to give everyone a chance to see what technology and the internet can do for them. Digital Friends is such a brilliant, simple idea: to help everyone benefit from the Internet through friends, family and trusted intermediaries.

We are excited to support the Digital Friends initiative and will certainly encourage all of our library staff and volunteers to share their skills and enthusiasm with others.

Government digital strategy and digital inclusion strategy

The government’s digital inclusion strategy includes 10 actions governments and partners from the public, private and voluntary sectors will take to reduce digital exclusion and help people use and benefit from the internet.

The government’s Digital Strategy required each government department to undertake 16 actions, including working with partners from the public, private and voluntary sectors to help people access online.

WiFi in public libraries

The government announced 7.4 million in the 2015 budget to fund Wi-Fi in libraries in England. BT and Barclays are working with the government to deploy a pilot Wi-Fi to this end in a selection of libraries and community centers. They also offer practical

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