Barriers and Stimulation Actions
Despite the development of new infrastructure (broadband networks), there is a decreasing demand for internet connections in a number of European countries. It is worth noting that in 2014 more than 20% of the population declared that they have never used the Internet in half of the EU-27 countries (Figure 1).
Figure 1: People who have never used the Internet in the EU-27 countries.
Searching for the reasons of why a significant portion of the population remains outside the digital era one can distinguish, in the highest positions of access barriers, the lack of digital literacy and skills as well as the lack of interest. Figure 2 depicts the percentage of people not using the Internet due to the lack of interest as well as the lack of digital literacy and skills. Exceptions are France, Lithuania, Hungary and Romania where high equipment costs can be met as a significant barrier. In fact, it seems that the services offered by the Internet do not coincide with the needs of individuals.
Figure 2: Lack of interest as well as the lack of digital literacy and skills as barriers among people who have never used the Internet.
Although several measures have been taken in the last years, Internet demand remains almost constant. It is then evident that in order to stimulate demand, governments and policy makers should escape from traditional strategies (e.g. sharing of vouchers for the purchase of equipment) and resorting to more modern techniques such as individuals’ digital training and the strengthening of their interest for the Internet. In fact, this effort should be focused on older people who seem to strongly ‘resist’ on new technologies and the Internet. In details:
- Take measures towards digital education of citizens, especially the elderly ones
- Introduction of digital champions
- Nonprofit organizations should undertake responsibilities
- Enhance eGovernment
- Support the development of appropriate content focused on:
- Older people (telemedicine)
- Specific groups such as farmers (smart farms)